Friday, February 5, 2016

South Korea, Day 1



February 5, 5:53am, Sky View Lounge

My first trip of the year is off to a start. I'm already done with my check-in and immigration procedures, and I'm currently having some breakfast at the Sky View Lounge in NAIA T3 while waiting for boarding. I got in as a perk for my card, which is great since I don't have to buy ny grub and it's so much nicer to wait while seating in padded seats away from the crowds in the boarding gates. I'm flying AirAsia Zest, a budget airline, and I'm waiting for my flight inside a business class lounge. Langit at lupa, as they say in Filipino.

I'll be boarding in about 30 minutes so my next update will be when I land in ICN.


12 noon, Incheon International Airport.

We landed ahead of schedule. Going through immigration was a breeze, and I was able to buy a top-up subway card and a ticket for A'Rex, the high-speed train going to Seoul. I was impressed by how modern the station is. The service is also very efficient, and fast. We left around 1:30pm


2:12pm Seoul Station
This is the last and only stop of the A'Rex service. I need to get another train to Hongdae, where my hostel is.

3:00pm Time Travelers Party Hostel
I was finally able to find the hostel. I had to take a detour to a Starbucks near the Hongik Station so I can get some hot macchiato, WiFi, and find my bearings. The person manning the concierge is an Aussie named Troy. He's helpful enough, and I asked him about where to sign up for the DMZ tour. After checking in I went up my room to freshen up and fix my things. I will be going round the city after this.



4:00pm Changdeokgung
After wasting some time finding the right line and station to get on and off I finally was able to locate and reach the Changdeokgung via subway. The palace was constructed in 1405 by the Joseon dynasty. The complex was composed of several buildings, including a throne hall, the residences of the king, the crown prince, the queen and the king's concubine. There was also a secret garden where the royalty relaxed.

It was almost dusk when I was done exploring the complex so I didn't go on to the next on my list. I went back to the hostel instead, dropping by a local restaurant to grab some dinner.

8:00pm, Hongdae
After dinner I took a shower to freshen up (even if it was -1°C outside). I recharged the battery of my phone, and went down to the common area of the hostel to talk to Troy about how to get to Jisan, which I plan to visit tomorrow.


After our conversation I went out to explore the area around Hongdae. It was bustling, the crowd mostly young people from the universities around it. The area is full of pubs, caf├ęs, restaurants and shops, like that one above that sells lingerie. I got too deep into exploring the area that I forgot where I started and wasn't able to go back right away. Good thing there was free public WiFi in the area and I was able to get my bearings using Google Maps. After a while I got back to the hostel to call it a day.





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