Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jocelyn & Lennart's Free & Easy Trip to Seoul, Korea 01/11/13 - 06/11/13 : Day 2, an unexpected twist part 1......

Rise and shine! Good morning Korea! We set our alarms to wake up and prepare ourselves for the day ahead at Everland.

She put on her makeup and I browse through again of the brochure to make sure how we are going to get there. Felt abit stuffy decided to pull away the curtains and lift the window for some fresh air and took a nice picture of the Seoul City View.
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Such a nice view and we're feeling fresh! But I got a bit suspicious of the weather because it looked too foggy for my comfort, it's like there is a lot of moisture in the air or something.

We went down and true to my suspicions, it was raining! The rain is not very heavy unlike those we have in Singapore. 
Droplets were coming down steadily, our hearts sank and felt disappointed.
For your information, Everland is an outdoor theme park situated at the outskirts of Seoul thus to go there on a rainy weather could mean that some rides are closed due to the rain and also the temperature would drop drastically.
Luckily for us, we are here on free and easy, thus we decided to postpone our Everland adventure to the next day, at the same time monitoring how's the weather will be like for tomorrow.

We pushed forward our itinerary, we decided to go shopping at Dongdaemun this afternoon since the shops there are all located indoors in the malls, our lunch would be settled by the simple roadside stalls selling snacks. After which, Nanta Show in the evening at 5pm back in Myeongdong. That's roughly what we decided and we play by ear depending on the time left for the day.

The rain sure dampened our high spirits for a bit early in the morning. We walked in the drizzling cold rain to Paris Baguette Cafe just a few shops away from our hotel, next to Skypark III Hotel, for breakfast.

 Jocelyn had juice and me had my daily dose of coffee.
Their cups are cute, looks like a boy wearing a blue cap. =)
 I got myself a sausage bun, looks yummy with the sauces.
Jocelyn had chicken sandwich.

The nice warm cosy place in the cafe and breakfast warmed our hearts for a bit bringing some comfort from the cold dampening rain outside. We walked to the 7-11 which is just right at the back behind the Paris Baguette Cafe and bought an umbrella to shield for the walk back to hotel as well as providing us with shelter for the rest of the day ahead...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jocelyn & Lennart's Free & Easy Trip to Seoul, Korea 01/11/13 - 06/11/13 : Day 1, Part 2 continuation...

Before I continue on our Day 2 in Seoul, Korea.

Recap back on Day 1, we checked into Sejong Hotel at Myeongdong.

Went for dinner at Oppadak Restaurant, had Baked Crispy Chicken.

Actually before we went for dinner, under the recommendation by Jocelyn's friend and ex-colleague, we went to an Optical Shop to make a new pair of glasses each. The shop was located in Myeongdong, the best thing was it's along the same stretch where Oppadak is located, it's just a few shops away.

Jocelyn's friend is a really nice lady, she gave us a map which she got and used in her last trip to Korea, in the map she indicated a few places of interest which we may want to go take a look, the restaurants which serve tasty food as well as the Optical shop. We used that map to navigate ourselves for the first few days in Myeongdong.

Armed with the map from Jocelyn's friend we found Look Optical(name of the shop) without much problems.

It is advisable to bring along an existing pair of glasses which you already own and get them to scan and replicate the similar degree of lenses for you.
The optician does not speak English nor Mandarin, however there's a salesgirl who can speak Mandarin and basic English, she would be able to translate back and forth the information from the Optician.

After scanning your existing lenses, they will show you a menu of different types of lenses suitable for your current degree. Ranging from the lower range of 40,000won to the higher ranges of 80,000won and above.

Depending on your existing degree, the optician will recommend the type of lense for you as the higher degrees one as explained by the salesgirl tend to be thicker, the better and higher range of lenses can be sanded thinner so that your glasses won't look so thick and heavy but of course the choice is all up to you.
They will not hardsell to you to choose the higher ended ones, that's the best part they are not pushy at all.

In the end I chose the 80,000won lense and Jocelyn chose the 40,000won lense, she has lower degree of myopia thus the lower range of lenses is sufficient as it would not be thick for her degree. I chose the 80,000won lense, firstly because my degree of myopia is higher, secondly it also has added properties like UV protection, anti-glare properties and it's thin.

After choosing the lense you can walk around the shop, look, see and free to try all the frames. The spectacles frames range from 20,000won to the more expensive 100,000won and above.

After walking around testing and trying different frames, we finally got the frames we liked, paid up, got a receipt and was told that the spectacles would be ready 30mins later for collection, we can return to collect it before 9.30pm local time. We got back our existing spectacles after the optician took down the power of our degrees.

My pair costs roughly about SGD$130.00+ and hers about SGD$80.00+

What better timing! We walked over to Oppadak to have our dinner and returned to collect it after dinner!

After collection, we walked around and did some window shopping for abit before heading back to our Hotel, before going up to the room we went to the Concierge and asked for directions to go to Everland. They handed us a brochure and roughly explained the various ways to get there and within the brochure there's a discount coupon for foreigners.
I will elaborate in details later on how to get there.

Being dead beat tired from the 6hour long flight, we headed up to our room
and turned in early, unaware of the twist of event tomorrow morning.......

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jocelyn & Lennart's Free & Easy Trip to Seoul, Korea 01/11/13 - 06/11/13 continued : Where to buy and how to top-up Korea's T-Money Card similar to Singapore's Ezlink Card

Ok now I will explain on where to buy the T-money Cards.

It is advisable that you purchase your cards 1 day before you plan to travel using Korea's public transport, buses, subway in their major metropolitan cities, like Seoul, Busan etc.

For us, we bought our cards on our first day, after taking our dinner nearby our Hotel, we went to a nearby GS25 mart, one of their convenient stores chain.

The T-money cards can be bought at most of their Convenient Stores, GS25, 7-11,Mini Stop, Buy The Way bearing the T-money Logo and their Ticket and Card Reloading Devices inside the subway stations.

The cards come at 2,500won each. The cards have no stored value in them and they have no expiry dates meaning you can still use them the next time you go back to Korea.

They can be topped up at their sales locations unless otherwise stated at certain locations where they don't have topping up machines.

Well we decided to be adventurous and try out their reload machines in their subways.

The words are all in Korean what do we do?! Haha

The machines instructions are in Korean, which I do not understand, however I roughly know the process by observing the person in front of me doing a reload.

It is quite similar to the machines at our MRT control stations which we use to top up our Ezlink Cards.

First you place the T-money card which you want to reload onto the card reader at the machine wait for it to read your card.

Another screen will prompt you to indicate the amount which you want to top up. 5,000won, 10,000won etc

Select the amount, and insert the notes required.

Now wait for the machine to prompt again indicating the new value in your card. We topped up 10,000won on our first day, it lasted us for 2 days with balance of about 5,000+won in our card, we travelled to Hongdae, Sinchon, up and down between Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, Chungmuro a couple of times.

Total we topped up 15,000won each card which lasted us 5 days and still have a balance of 2,900+won, that is inclusive of travelling to Everland and back to Myeongdong.

You can choose to refund the amount in the card at a fee of 500won which will be deducted from your balance in your card at their substations control centre.

There's a person from their subway control which will assist you in getting the refund. Or you can choose to keep the value in your card and use them again when you go back to Korea in the future as the cards have no expiry dates.

We hoped this information will be useful to those planning on going to Korea on free and easy trips and wished to take their subways and buses as a mean of moving around.

More information can be found at their official tourism website

Jocelyn & Lennart's Free & Easy Trip to Seoul, Korea 01/11/13 - 06/11/13 continued : Singtel Data Autoroam application

Alright this is the continuation of the Singtel Data Autoroam application as I was talking about in my previous posts, its a breeze applying for it especially for people who need to be online while overseas
*Note that this is for Singtel Mobile Users only

Its pretty easy, just download the Singtel app or update your Singtel app to the latest version.

Login with your Onepass account ID and password or apply for one if you don't have one yet.

1) After you Login, tap on the Usage icon at the bottom left of the screen.

2) Tap on Roaming at the top of the screen.

3) Tap on subscribe DataRoam Saver Plan.

4) They have 1 day for 1 country, 3 days for 1 country, 5 days for 1 country etc etc. select your days option. 

5) Select the country which you will be using it, for us it's South Korea, SK Telecom which is their partnering company provider for the service and beside it they will show the amount to be paid for the amount of days which you will be using for the unlimited data usage.

6) Select the prefered date of activation and the end date (Please note that if you selected let's say 6th Nov as the end date, the service will terminate on 6th Nov 2359hrs so its a full day thing).

7) After you confirmed, the rest is pretty self-explanatory, they will send you an SMS to confirm your subscription, it works for users with multi-sim cards.

Ok so what's so cool about this new app; once you're overseas and at the selected start date of when you want to use the data roam, you tap "Enable Data Roaming(Network)", you are now on Data Roaming, however not to worry because this app helps you to Network Lock.

Meaning if you are not on the preferred partnering network which is providing the Data Roam, it cuts off your data roam to protect you from incurring pay-per-use data charges, in this case for South Korea, its SK - Telecom. So for the 'Socialites' out there who has or need to be on social networks all the time be it to post your latest shopping loots or favourite food etc. Upload away it's unlimited data use!

Oh if for some reason you lost network connection or off from the preferred network, it will try to help you get logged backed in. For my case, I didn't get offed from the preferred network till the last day due to me being in a poor network area and I manually searched and connect back to the preferred network after a few mins because the signal was poor at that area.

*PS, ok I'm not writing this post for Singtel, just that I felt it was really useful for those who are willingly to pay that fee for unlimited data roaming, which I could hotspot and share it with Jocelyn for her to surf Facebook and upload some of our photos on the go outside, she's using Starhub but we're not sure if Starhub provides the same service as well but it's a one stone kill 2 birds thing so why not*

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jocelyn & Lennart's Free & Easy Trip to Seoul, Korea 01/11/13 - 06/11/13 : Day 1, Part 2, arriving at Incheon International Airport, Seoul,Korea!

Yes! We finally reached Korea, so excited about the weather, the shopping, the food and the different touristic spots that we are gonna visit!

Weather's good at 18 degrees celsius, only had a long sleeved turtle neck heat tech from Uniqlo(2nd time wearing it from the previous trip last year), a tee shirt with fleece jacket and a pair of jeans.

 But I find it kinda warm on the bus but comfortable if you are outside on the streets.

Ok, we landed around 3.30pm Korea time, Korea is ahead of Singapore by 1 hour for those of you whose watches that need to sync.

For smart phones users, usually your phone once connected to their local networks it would sync automatically for you.

Oh yeah one more cool stuff that I did before going to Korea, 1 week before our flight, I subscribe to Singtel's data roam unlimited daily usage for 1st Nov till 6th Nov, this is for Singtel's mobile users only.

Ok I will elaborate more on how to do it in another post.

Anyway, we claimed our luggages and off we go out to the Arrival Hall!

Took our itinerary which we printed, you guys can leave a comment if you're interested in it, I'm still correcting some directions on it.

We headed out to search for the Airport Limousine Bus Counter thinking we need to purchase the tickets there.

Note that we are looking to take the Airport Limousine Bus Myeong-Dong(6015) to Sejong Hotel.

Below is a map of the route Bus 6015 takes and the stops which it stops at. Attached is also a timetable of the First and Last buses, for those planning to travel by bus do check the timings out. More information for other buses routes and timetables can be found at the official Incheon Airport website here. 

For Airport
For Seoul
The First Bus
The Last Bus
The First Bus
The Last Bus

However after checking with the lady at the information counters, she directed us to the nearest exit to the left of the booth.

Over there is the bus stop for Bus 6015, just right outside the exit so convenient!

Oh yeah beforehand, we downloaded and printed out 2 copies of the discount coupon shared from another blog.

The ticket for the bus ride costs 10,000won, with the discount we saved 1,000won each, so thats only 18,000won

Found the bus stop as soon as we stepped out so convenient, there's English wordings on it as well, Korea is becoming very Tourist Friendly! 

Anyway we were lucky, the bus came as soon as we stepped out, the driver or their helper will help load your luggages into the luggage compartment of the bus and they will stick a sticker with a number to your luggage and issue you the tag for you to claim it later when you disembark. 

You can pay using cash or T-money as you board the bus, it's a top-up card similar to our Ez-link, I will elaborate further on where to get the T-money card and how to top it up. 

Change will be given if you pay by cash not to worry if you do not have small change, preferably if you have 10,000 won notes instead of 50,000 won notes because you will be changed back in coins.

Traffic was fairly fine on a Friday Evening, the journey took us about 80-90minutes to Sejong Hotel. Pressed the bell when the bus announces next stop Sejong Hotel.

Before every stop the bus will play an announcement in Korean, Japanese, Mandarin and English to notify the passengers of the next stop and if you want to alight, you just need to press the bell to alight.

The bus captain will get off the bus if you are alighting and help with unloading the luggages for you and not to forget you need the luggage tag of the matching sticker on your luggage given to you earlier in order to claim it.

Sejong Hotel is just a stone throw away from the bus stop, I was pretty amazed that it was right infront of it, pretty convenient.

Checked in with the receipt that I printed booking the room online with and up we go to the room!
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The room's pretty spacious with a Queen Sized bed, dressing table, wardrobe, coffee table and cabinet with refrigerator & safe.

The missus is pretty hungry, grumpy and tired already XD so off we go to get our lunch cum dinner after leaving our bags and luggages in the room.

Jocelyn and I has been to Korea last year on Chan Brother's Travel Group Package and we have fallen in love with the crispy baked chicken at Myeongdong, we were able to find it the previous time with the help of our Korean Tour guide but this time we are going to find it on our own especially when our Hotel is so near!

Using a map borrowed from a friend, we found our directions and navigated our way to Myeongdong main shopping streets which is just behind our hotel.

After navigating and walking through Myeongdong for 10minutes, we found the restaurant, as we have been there before we naturally recognised the signboard, its located at the third floor.

Below are the directions to the restaurant from Sejong Hotel for reference. The Shop name is called Oppadak. In Korean, 'dak' means chicken.

OPPADAK Baked Chicken Restaurant
1   1)  If you stay at Sejong Hotel, turn right after you exit the hotel and walk along the main  street till you come to a T-junction before Myeongdong Exit 8.
    2)  Turn right into the junction before Myeongdong Station exit 8.
    3)  Walk straight along until you passed by 3 cross junctions and you will see a corner      shop selling Kimbap(Korean Seaweed Rice rolls) look up and you will see a yellow signage  showing OppaDak on the left.
    4)  The shop is located at level 3.
    5)  After you enter, the staffs will usher you to the seats
    6)  This restaurant sells mainly Chickens as their main and all their chickens are baked not fried.
    7)  The Main Dish is Original Baked Chix, very crispy and juicy, don’t worry they will give  you English Menu so you can see and choose the dish and sauces for dips etc.
    8)  You can try their spicy sauce chix though I haven’t tried before but I see their locals  ordering but we still love their Baked Chix because it is very crispy and juicy in the  inside.

    9)  The sauce dips are refillable, they can get very busy on weekends, usually the wait for  the chix is about 15mins so be patient for the good stuffs, not advisable to take out  because the chix gets soggy if you carry too long on the outside

Attached a map below for easy reference.

Finally the Crispy Baked Chicken is here after a long wait! Look at Jocelyn's smile hehe.

Basically the whole chicken is chopped into parts and served fresh from the oven, very crispy, not oily at all and we both easily finished one whole chicken because you won't feel greasy and oily in your mouth after eating it and you will want more! Hahaha

We ordered the Original Baked Chicken but you can also order just chicken wings or drumsticks only and they have other flavours as well like spicy chicken etc.

We finished the chicken really quick because we are really hungry lol but not to worry you won't need to use your hands if you do not want to because they provide tongs and forks which you can easily feast on the chicken with and a waste bin where you can throw the bones into.

And most Korean restaurants provide tissues at the table so you won't need to start searching your pockets and bags for tissues after your meal or spilled juices.

We washed it down with their local drink, Chilsung cider which is an alternative and less sweet version of Sprite but the locals love to eat their chickens with beer or soju even the ladies down huge pints of beer, its really amazing of how much they can drink!

After a satisfied dinner, we slowly walked along Myeongdong shopping streets and back to our hotel, we're tired beat from the flight and needed to rest for our planned trip to Everland the next day!

Stay tuned for the trip to Everland as I will describe more about T-money and Singtel's Data Roam Saver Plan.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jocelyn & Lennart's Free & Easy Trip to Seoul, Korea 01/11/13 - 06/11/13 : Day 1, Part 1, leaving on a jet plane!

This post is done by Lennart =)

Weee! We got our tickets booked 3 months ago and planned our itinerary with reference to friends' and other bloggers recommendations.

The excitement built up to our Korean holiday was exhilarating! We counted down from a month ago and now we are leaving on a jet plane! Hehehe

Happily checked in at Changi Airport Terminal 3 at the SIA counter, there are many reasons why SIA has been one of the leading airlines in the world for their service etc.

Their ground crew at the check-in counter are totally efficient, polite and helpful. Our check-in was a breeze and we were issued our Boarding passes within minutes!

We were kinda early for our flight all because my love wanted to go to Pandora's boutique and take a look

at their charms and we heard that at the airport its cheaper and some charms which are out of stock or not

available in those shops outside, the airport's one might have.

I got her one charm and she got herself another. Now she has additional of 2 more charms to her collection!

Frog Prince Charm and Love Charm, best of all it is duty free so its cheaper then the retail stores outside of

the departure hall. (Helped me save a bit of money =P )

After shopping for Pandora, oh yeah please note that they are open from 6am onwards if you are early to

the Airport, there's one outlet at Terminal 3 located near UOB currency exchange counter,

we walked around for a bit and had some breakfast and coffee before heading to our boarding gate.

So exciting! Bye Bye Singapore! Heading to the motherland! (It's a joke that Jocelyn loves to poke at me, she says I look abit like Korean Guys because of my small eyes -.-" and facial features)

Continuing on Part 2 after the 6hrs flight to Korea, Seoul, Incheon International Airport.........