Took an early morning flight by Korean Air to arrive in Seoul, Incheon airport in the morning. Flight was comfortable, with enough leg room, and a personal entertainment device. Flight attendants serve orange juice and peanuts upon stabilising. I watched Ted halfway before falling asleep. At around 5am, sunlight starts beaming in and woke me up. Breakfast, which includes beef bibimbab, fruits, yogurt and orange juice are served. Soon, I arrived in Incheon airport. Here, I must make my way to Gimpo airport to hop onto a Jejuair flight for Jeju.
First, I go to the tourist information center and inquire where to buy a T-money card. After that, follow airport express signs to get to the airport express subway linking Incheon airport, Gimpo airport and Seoul station (with some other stops in between). Basically, after stepping out of airport arrival, make a right turn to tourist information center, and get a T-money card. After that, take a downward escalator to a linkway linking the the airport to the subway. On the way to the subway, you will see a cinema. Top up your T-money card at the machines – press english, place your card on the T-money pad, select amount to top up, and insert money. Journey to Gimpo airport is about 30mins.
At Gimpo airport, luggage check-in is at the second level, while the immigration gates are at the third levels. Here, I met a bunch of 14-15 year old kids on a 3d2n excursion to Jeju. They are really a boisterous lot, making so much noise that can wake the dead. The teachers are unable to deal with them. Up in the flight it’s worse – imagine the same screaming and shouting, but now in a confined space. They even started running up and down the alley. My image of a polite and refined Korean society is shattered. In fact, its at this moment, I have more respect for Singaporean kids and teachers. They are more orderly and have better manners.
So, I arrived in Jeju after a horrible 40min of non-stop children screaming and shouting. The air stewardesses even joined in their games. Straight in front of the arrival gate are the car rental booths. I proceeded to AJrentacar, where I had previously made a reservation. The price is really affordable, at 140k won for 4days. You will need a valid driver’s license from your country, an international driving permit, and your passport. I then proceeded to exit 5, to take a shuttle bus to the car rental carpark. There I paid the 140k won, went over the car check with their personnel, and learnt how to use their gps navigation. Road names and landmarks are all in Korean, but the device can be programmed to give navigation commands in English. Identification of destination is by telephone numbers, since I can’t write Korean. Next, he will pass you a map with all the numbers of the popular tourist attractions, which is pretty much sufficient. However, this come with a slight glitch. Some telephone numbers don’t work, or will bring you to the wrong place. Once, thinking I am going to a tourist spot, I ended up in a government building. Soon, I found a more efficient way. I googled the location of my destination on google map (don’t bother even trying apple map), locate the same spot on the gps, point the square cursor to the spot, and set it to my destination by pressing the green G at the bottom panel. Next press the top right hand most green button to select the fastest route. And viola, you can start driving, and will arrive exactly where you want.
At this point I should probably point out some things about Korean traffic. It’s left-hand drive. Universal traffic rules apply, red means stop, green means go. On top of this, the Koreans have a few other variants. Blinking amber means look out for pedestrian or merging cars. Blinking red probably means the same thing. Whatever it is, don’t stop, less you get swear at and horned, like me. Apart from the overhead traffic signal, sometimes, there is another small traffic signal usually attached on a lamp post on the right side of the road, which is most of the time green. This signal is for right turning vehicles. Like China, Korea has a ‘you can turn right anytime’ rule, provided that if that small traffic signal is present, it is not red. What this means is, if you are going to drive straight please don’t hog the right most lane or you will get cursed and horned again, yup like me. Driving in jeju is otherwise, in my opinion, the best part of my Korea trip. I like the beautiful scenery, driving through road covered with yellow leaves, visiting tangerine farms,…
My hotel, Goodstay December Hotel, is just a couple of minutes drive away. Tucked somewhere in between intertwining back alleys, it’s still easy to find with navigation. There are ample free parking lots available. Hotel staffs can speak decently good English, and are helpful. Rooms are clean, and decently sized. Floor is plied with wood, so there is no musky carpet smell or stains. Apart from the usual amenities like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and tooth paste, they even provide free after shave lotion, facial moisturiser, hair gel and hair spray.
After checking in an settling down, its already 3pm, so I decided to look around for a snack. Following the recommendations from tripadvisor, turn left after exiting the hotel, at the main road, take a right turn walking past domino’s pizza. Continue on straight all the way until you see Paris Baguette. Cross to the left side of the street using the traffic light. Right next to a Sk Telecom shop is a Korean eatery that serve quite good prawn bibimbab (18k won). The serving is large enough, with enough prawns to make each mouth ‘prawnful’.
I then took the car out for a spin along the coast, stopping occasionally along the beaches, and then looping back to the hotel.
I use the following apps to make my South Korea trip easier:
1. Google map: It has all the point of interests spot on.
2. Jihachul: It has all the information of Seoul and Busan subway. It helps you find the nearest subway, and points you in the direction. It helps plan the fastest route between subway stations, including information on which side the door opens, where to transit, and how much the journey costs.
3. Agoda: to manage my hotel bookings,
4. Tripadvisor: for attraction and restaurant recommendations and reviews.
5. My Singtel: I am a Singtel subscriber, thus I use this app to manage my bridge dataroam plans, ensuring I have 3g assess all the time. Singtel has a tie-up with SK Telecom, so make for Singtel subscribers, make sure carrier selection is set to manual, and select SKT. I believe Starhub uses Olleh. Bridge dataroam provides unlimited 3g data usage overseas at a rate of $15 per day or $75 for 5 days. I think this is affordable, and throughout my Korea trip, the 3g access is speedy and very reliable. This is something I really hope Singapore telcos can learn from.
Note about this trip: When I travel, the trip has to be comfortable, and food has to be nice. I am not a backpacker, and don’t go for the ‘cheapest’, nor the most expensive. My expenditure for the entire 12D11N South Korea trip is about SGD$2500.