One of the country that I dream to visit is South Korea. Main reason, I fall in love with their history through historical drama that I watched. I am not used to watch all Korean dramas, but if its historical, I definitely going to watch it. I can say that I am somewhat familiar with their history though I am aware that probably not all things shown in the dramas are all correct but at least some of the facts can be search online, especially people if they are real or imaginary character. These historical drama were aired as well in my country, and some seen online. I can sense that there is good relationship between my country and South Korea. One of the sign of this good relationship is the continuous visitation of the Korean actors/actress/artists in my country to either promote their albums or films.
When I came from Australia after my recent project assignment last May, there is at least two weeks left before our flight to South Korea. I booked the flight a year ago, without assurance that I will be able to visit this country. It was 1 peso sale in Cebu Pacific (one of the major budget airline in the Philippines), base fare is 3 pesos, but in reality the total airfare is not just that amount, it’s more than that.
I booked three tickets and I planned to go together with my mother and my youngest sister. And in less than two weeks, we don’t have yet the visa since I cannot apply it a bit earlier since I am not around in my country until I returned from Australia. I worked with all the paper requirements for the application of our visa and the three of us visited South Korea embassy, 5 days after I arrived in Manila. And we waited for a week for the result of our visa application. Our visa were approved released just two days before the scheduled flight which is very tight. Until we received our passport and visa, that’s the only time we were sure that we are really going to South Korea. I already accepted before, that the hotel and flight booking will be forfeited if our visa application was not approved. And we were lucky that everything went smoothly.
It was Friday (June 6, 2014), my mom, my sister and I were waiting at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), Terminal 3. At the time that we were boarding the plane, that made me realized that my dream will come true in a matter of few hours. I just thought about traveling South Korea, but never really planned it so well because of the concern regarding our visa. I am a citizen of the country with limited visa free entries to other countries. This is one of the main reason why my travel to other parts of the world are being limited.
After four hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, we finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. It was past 8 in the evening, we were not like other travelers that all things were arranged. The only thing we booked was our accommodation because we were not really sure if we will able to get a visa. After getting off the plane and passing the immigration area, I thought it still early, therefore, we tried to figure out how we were going to the hotel service apartment that I booked. After asking something at information center, we bought our transportation card called T-money card, this money card can only be topped up by cash (not sure if there is a way to top it online via credit card). We decided to take train to go to Seoul and the plan is to transfer to metro train in Seoul. After withdrawing some cash, we took the “All Stop Train” of AREX line (“Express Train” is the other type of train, which is non-stop, straight to Seoul but more expensive than the All Stop Train). We arrived at Seoul past 10:30 PM. Looking at the time, we hurriedly transferred to one of the Seoul Metro Subways which is Line 4 going to Oido. It’s past 11:30 PM, we got off at Chongshin University or Isu station, then we transferred to another line which is Line 7 going to Jangam. At this time, we never able to arrived at the right station where our hotel is just around because the train stopped its operation even before we reach the station we are intended to.
We stopped at Naebang station as the last stop which means the next train will be coming the next morning, 3 more stations to reached Non-hyeon where our hotel is almost near, we went out at Naebang station and tried to find a cab that will bring us in our accommodation for the next 9 days and it was past 12AM in the morning and we were still outside in a place that was foreign for us, quite adventure but risky as well. There are several cabs stopped but most of the driver rejected us, either they don’t understand the way I speak since I am asking them in English or they don’t really want us as their passenger. We waited until another cab stopped and agreed to drop us to the hotel. One disappointment on that situation was, the driver never helped us to fetch our luggage to put it in the trunk of the cab. While on our way to the hotel, the driver keep on checking and looking on the map and address that I have on my hand to make sure that he’s on the right track, I keep on talking to him in English but he usually smiled at me without other words to say, in that situation I understand that he does not really know how to speak English either.
At last we arrived at the hotel service apartment at Gangnam-gu and the name of the 4 star hotel is Inn the City Serviced Residence, Gangnam. The clerk at the lobby of the hotel accommodated us quickly, we went straight in our room after we got our key. My impression to our room is nice, it has two double bed and all the necessary appliances as expected were there. After few minutes of being familiar with the room, we knew it was really late like almost 2AM, we have a big day ahead of us for adventure and because of that we crawled in our bed and fallen asleep shortly.
I will tell stories of our adventures of each places that we visited in South Korea, most of the places were in Seoul and around Gyeonggi-do province. I enjoyed all of these places in our 8 days tours in this country, though I am aware there are more tourist destination to see and I promised myself that I will go back in this country.
Here are the places that we visited in South Korea.
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)
5. Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)
6. Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)
7. Everland (Yongin, Gyeonggi-do)
8. Nami Island (Chuncheon, Gangwon-do)
9. Petite France (Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do)
10. Changdeokgung Palace (Seoul)
11. Changgyeonggung Palace (Seoul)
12. DMZ – Demilitarized Zone (Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi-do)
13. Seoul and Beyond – Random Moments
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