Before we had Oliver, traveling was a norm for me.
However, anything that can possibly go wrong for the start of this trip, went wrong.
Firstly, K only put down his Christian name for the flight booking. His passport was not updated yet, thus the afternoon we were bound for Korea, he had to rush back in taxi for his IC to proof his identity.
Our brunch was quick, but the flight was delayed. By the time we reached Incheon airport, it was near midnight. Fortunately for this part of the journey, I did my research enough to know what’s our back up plan.
If you’re traveling via Flyscoot, there’s a high chance you will end up in Seoul after the last train leaves. We got two flight tickets at SG$900 during a promo and it’s a 6 hour ride en route Taipei. Our arrival was due at 1035 pm but the delay cost us another hour or so.
We had to take the airport limousine bus at 9000 krw. You will see the counter straight ahead to your right when you get out of the departure gate.
After making sure where to take the limousine bus, we went further down the counters on our right to find a telcom counter where we rented our wifi router.
What’s a wifi router? Well, for this trip, we decided not to rent a local phone since there’s Kakaotalk with free chat and sms for us to communicate. However, for all these to work in a foreign country, you’ll need wifi. Seoul is a widely connected city, so there’s basically wifi everywhere. What the wifi router does, is it picks up the nearest wifi and strengthens the signal, so you will have smooth and stable connection. This is how the palm-sized router looked like.
This is where the 2nd hiccup happened. The payment preferred is credit card, but somehow our transaction just wouldn’t go through. I was getting angsty cos we hadn’t bought our T-money (transitlink) card and the bus was leaving in another 15 minutes or so. After changing a couple of cards, swiping for infinite times (bless the guy behind the counter for such patience), the POSBank debit card finally went through. After the trip, I concluded that though the router was very useful for finding our way and stuff, a local mobile line would be preferable as well in order to call for reservations and taxi. I later found out there’s an unlimited 4G LTE Data package you can get at US$23 via Trazy here.
Dashed into the nearest convenience store to get our T-money cards and a bottle of chocolate milk and we’re off just in time for the bus.It’s about an hour plus ride from the airport to our rented apartment in Seoul Station.
We found this apartment through this site called airbnb.com. Where regular people rent out their spaces to travellers and you can choose your preferred rate and locations.
It’s smaller than what I thought, somewhat similar to the studio apartment we rented back in Paris. Check out the video below for a clearer idea.
It’s SG$61 per night with a cleaning fee of $26 and airbnb service charge of $54.
The owner knows simple English and communication wasn’t that big of a problem, but we didn’t confirm the late check out fee with him and he made some arrangements to deposit our luggage on our last day in Seoul.
He’s helpful for most parts, worrying when we didn’t catch the train and took the bus instead ‘cos the route he provided was different (but hey, we got google map and all was good), prompt in our (sometimes frantic) enquiries on Kakaotalk and basically just pretty accomodating.
The apartment was slightly dusty, but not disturbingly so. I had some trouble with the shower head ‘cos it shares the same source as the tap. You had to twist the knob to change the settings and there were times I forgot and when I turned the tap, water splashed from above instead. Ugh.
The bed was creaky, but comfortable enough so I woke up refreshed from a night’s sleep. Unlike the ultra soft bed in Penang, where it felt really luxurious but gave me aches and pain.
And oh, you might want to forgo this apartment if you can’t bear the idea of climbing stairs. I conveniently overlooked the fact that this was on the 3rd storey, no elevator.
A heads up though, it’s just basic training for the rest of your journey in Seoul. ‘Cos you’ll be surprised at the amount of climbing you’ll need to do via train stations and what’s not.
Let’s just say, I’ve got tremendous respect for the ahjummas there!
Click here to see the rest of our Korea trip’s experience.