Sunday, 25 September 2016

DAY ONE - MY FIRST TRIP TO SOUTH KOREA - 2012


DAY ONE IN SEOUL

My sister Zaza, her friends Bani and Sabrina, and myself travelled to Seoul, South Korea for the first time in February 2012. It was still Winter so the weather was still cold, especially at night. Since we had bought the Air Asia flight tickets several months earlier, the fare was quite low, around RM800 return per person. We also secured a ground tour package with Kimchee tour which we found online. They (Syamim, Sofia, Puteri and ..... ) were actually a group of Malaysian university students studying Engineering in Seoul. We paid Won 500,000 each, around RM1860.00 (current rate). This included food, transport fare, entry fees and guesthouse.

We departed from LCCT2 at midnight and arrived at Incheon International Airport around 6.00 am. Our guides were already waiting for us at the Arrival Hall. we learnt about the use of T card (like a touchNgo card) that we could use on trains and buses in Seoul. Then, we took the train from Incheon to go to our guesthouse in Shinchon. It was about half an hour ride to reach Ewha Women University Station. Once we reached our guesthouse, we had to leave our luggage in the reception area to go to the next destination, Nandaemun, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun. It was another train ride which was about 10 minutes. We went window shopping and souvenir hunting at these places. Some shopkeepers shouted Murah Murah and Selamat Datang as we passed their shoplots. I guess Malaysian and Indonesian tourists were already a common sight!









We had our lunch at an octopus restaurant where our soon-to-be- meal was still swimming in the glass tank inside the shop. The main dish came with side dishes or Banchan which included steamed egg, kimchi, seaweed soup, pickled radish, beansprouts and fried achovies. The rice came in a steel round bowl with lid and Mul or plain water is free flow. That was my first taste of Kimchi, and I have to admit, I still don't like it. It is an acquired taste. The whole set cost around Won 37,000 for the 6 of us.

After lunch, we had to find a place to pray and the guides took us into a mall and went up to the top floor where there was an empty corner for us to pray. Luckily, the washroom was nearby.
Korea is not a muslim country so it is not easy to find a proper place to pray. The only mosque is the Seoul Mosque in Itaewon. So we had to make do with what we could find during our trip.




After prayer, we took a taxi to the nearby Namsan Tower. Tourists could climb to the peak from the main carpark or take the cable to the tower. We chose the latter. We paid around..... The view from the top was pretty awesome. The wide and long Hangang (river) divides Seoul into north and south. Besides the tower, there are also cafes and a Teddy Bear Museum. But most young people came to Namsan to declare their love and secure it on a padlock! There are thousands of padlocks with love declarations along the steel fence surrounding the tower and also on the trees of padlock there... I wonder how many of these lovers kept their love for each other forever... :P





It was late in the evening when we made our way back to the guesthouse. On the way, we stopped at a restaurant to have our dinner. It was similar to our lunch set, minus the calamari so the price was much cheaper. From the train station exit, we walked back in the cold of the night. The lanes are full of small and medium-sized shoplots selling everything, from clothes to shoes, from beauty products to electronic gadgets. In between, there are eateries of various sizes and types to cater to daytime and nightime shoppers. We could only checked in when we arrived back at the guesthouse. Fortunately, my room was cozy and warm. and soon I fell asleep on my first night in Korea.....





P/S. current rate:

1000 won = RM 3.73 (in 2012, the rate was RM 2.70 - RM 3.00)
5000 won = RM 18.67
10000 won = RM 37.34
50000 won = RM 186.72




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