Posted in Seoul 서울

Things to do while transferring through Seoul Incheon Airport

Seoul Incheon Airport is often ranked in the top two in the world and if you have a long transfer or checked-in early, you can do a whole bunch of exploring!

I had a 9 hour stopover in Seoul in my most recent trip, so here some tips I might think is useful …

Free Transit Tours! 

Incheon Airport is one of a few airport that have FREE transit tours for tourists with layovers.  The trips can be from 2 hours to 8 hours long but you need to make sure there is enough time to go back to catch your connecting flight.  It’s possible they won’t let you join if it is too close to your departure time.

They have a website where you can sign-up for the tours.  There is limited space, usually just 20, and the most popular shopping tours are often filled up weeks or possibly a couple of months ahead.

The tours are only in the day time and basically can be split into two types – attractions and shopping.  One of the most popular tours is to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insa-dong.

The one I really wanted to go to was Gwangmyeong Cave, it’s located in Gyeongg-do and seems interesting.

If you decide to join these tours, you need to meet up at one of two counters at a certain time.  The first counter is located just before the customs and the other is after airport security (yes, even if you are transferring you still need to go through internal security again).  The tour requires the visitors to go through customs, so proper documents are required to join the trip.

Here’s the website to make your reservation or learn more : https://www.airport.kr/ap_cnt/en/trn/tour/trcose/trcose.do

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Note : there won’t be any one at the counter UNLESS you go there at that given time.

I couldn’t go to the transit tour 😦

See a K-Pop Concert Live!

Timing didn’t work out for me for this one because it is only available on Fridays afternoons.  If you are lucky enough, check it out and book ahead.  More information on this site : https://www.airport.kr/ap_cnt/en/trn/trajoy/trnkpc/trnkpc.do

Free Shower

One of the best thing about Seoul Incheon Airport is that they have free showers!  Most airports don’t even have them while others require you to pay.

They also offer towels and includes soap and shampoo.  They even throw in a hair dryer.  This is actually a better deal than some jimjibangs or public baths because most will not provide free body wash and shampoo, at least for women.

There are two shower facilities with about 8 shower rooms each.  They are located on the fourth floor next to where visitors collect their duty free.  They do check the boarding passes, so it is only offered to people in transit.

Note : shower has a limit of only 30 minutes each but that’s totally enough!  If you are lucky to get into one of the airline lounges, they would also have showers too …

There is also a shower facility at terminal 2 but I couldn’t go to terminal 2 because I was told there is no returning shuttle.  It is a one way trip…

Rest Zones

The Seoul Incheon Airport is crowded with people and this time, they have little carts  with their luggage and all the newly purchased duty free products weaving through the crowds.  For some peace and quiet, there is … the rest zone.

The rest zone is a quiet little place right next to the shower and nap rooms.  It has one beverage bar and many tables along with a long table where plugs are available for visitors to work, do homework or watch Kdramas.

Nap Rooms

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Yes, there is a nap room.  It is inside a dark room where there are comfortable cushy long chairs.  However, it is often full.  There are also comfortable chairs a little outside of nap room where people can sleep… Finally, if that is full, then there are these wooden benches.

Spa and Salon

This transit zone also has a spa and salon.  I think it is a just a massage chair and the price is about 10000 won an hour.

Visit the Cafes in Incheon Airport.

In addition to the familiar cafes, there are also themed cafes like the Charlie Brown Café.  There was a Pascucci that was beautifully decorated with a large bookshelf.  I went to a Book Café on the fourth floor near Gate 28.  You can read many of the free books at the café (mostly in Korean)  while sipping a coffee and watching the planes.  however, it is next to the duty-free tax return area, so it can get pretty noisy.

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Other things at the airport includes: Children pay area, Korean Cultural Experience, Sky Garden, Public Musical performances and even royal appearances by the King and Queen from the Joseon Dynasty.

Go Shopping at duty free!

Last crazy shopping spree for your favorite Korean skincare products and brand name luxury goods.  If you’re short on time, you can buy it on the internet and then pick it up at the airport on the fourth floor. Find out more about how to purchase and pickup here: http://www.shilladfs.com/estore/kr/en/shilladfscustomercenter/deliverypointinfo

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I’m sorry, I had to take a photo of this, Cart 1 of all the plastic packages from all the duty free items ………… 😦

Go Golfing

There is a golf course just right outside the airport.  I think you need to go through customs, but those who are addicted to golf don’t need to go far.  If memory serves me right, fans of golf can also see into the greens from one of the airport windows!

Movie Theatre

I also asked about this and it is at the Transportation Center, near the KTX in the basement floor.  You’ll have to go through customs.

…..

What it doesn’t have (yet):

Ice Rink

As of August 2018, the ice rink is under renovation.  Perhaps it even sounds absurd to a Korean as one of the lady at customer service gave me ‘huh?’ face when I asked about the ice rink… but ‘will’ exist. Eventually.

 

Finally…  if you have the time and the proper documents, you can leave the airport and do almost everything in Seoul or close by in Incheon!

Luggage Storage

If you have a small carry-on bag that you don’t want to take with you, you can leave them at a luggage storage area at departure.  It is located on the far left hand corner of international departure terminal (from the entrance).  For smaller bags, there are lockers.  With no luggage in hand, you can easy and freely hop on the airport line out into the city 🙂

More information here : https://www.airport.kr/ap/en/svc/getFacilityMain.do#

In my 10 hours at Incheon (argh, plane delay), I took a shower, had coffee, did homework, slept on the benches and caught some Korea/Japan region only pokemons.

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.. and take off

migachan

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Posted in Gochang 고창, Jeollabuk-do 전라북도

Gochang 고창: Mujanghyun 무장현 관아와 읍성, Borinara Hagwon Farm 보리나라 학원농장, Gochang Dolmen Museum (고창고인돌박물관)

I’ve been wanting to go to Gochang for a while.  It is located a the southern tips of Jeollabuk-do and takes about an hour and a half.  The place has mountain as there are beaches but we never made it to the waters.  On this Sunday, we went to see the Barley Festival, a festival that’s one month long.

Prior to heading to the festival, we went to get lunch at a Chinese-Korean fusion restaurant called Nalaegung 나래궁.  There are very few Chinese restaurants in Korea, especially in small town.  People would find places like jjajangmyeon (짜장면) (black soy sauce noodles) or jjamppong (짬뽕) (spicy seafood noodle soup).  Prior to coming to Korea, I rarely ate either dish … the former is a little plain for my taste and both are northern Chinese dishes, which make sense due to proximity.

Anyways, the reason why we came is that it is a mix of jjamppong and jjajangmyeon.  We also got a dish of tangsuyuk (탕수육) (sugar-water meat) to boot.  Addy : 전라북도 고창군 고창읍 읍내리 584-17

 

Before heading to the festival, we went passed a fortress.  I thought it was a Gochang Fortress, one of the best preserved fortress in Korea, but it was actually Mujanghyun 무장현 관아와 읍성, another fortress that’s a much smaller.

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The fortress was free and felt like a picnic ground.  The address is 전북 고창군 무장면 무장읍성길 45 .

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Returning to the program, we head to the Blue Barley Field (Borinara Hagwon Farm (보리나라 학원농장)).  The festival often takes place between April and May.  There is also free parking (!) but it is on the other side of the farm.  We had to drive to the other side, which took almost 30 minutes (due to traffic and waiting for parking spaces).  The farm had used land they could have used for farming for parking space …. so, I was surprise it was free.

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Barley is famously used for alcohol and tea.

I think this place is private but it doesn’t charge any fee.

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There are some vendors that sells fruits, farm products and many yummy food items.

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Another section is for canola flowers.  It is much smaller but still very popular among tourists.

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I am not sure if people come here to enjoy the flowers and view or to take photos so they can post it online.  I guess that’s what I am doing too ..

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Another reason why people come is that it is the filming site of a famous scene called Goblin.

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Those who are lazy can also take a horse-drawn carriage – for a fee of course. Addy: 158-15 hagwonnongjang-gil, gongeum-myeon, kochang, jeollabuk-do, south korea.

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The final attraction of the day is a UNESCO site – Gochang Dolmen Museum (고창고인돌박물관) .  The museum is 3000 won but I am not sure if you have to pay to see the Dolmen itself …

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Dolmens are made during the neolithic age, around 3000 BC.  The person is buried under the ground and a large rock, often with smaller rocks underneath it acts as support.  The rocks are said to have been carried from a far distance and required huge group effort by the village to carry it down.

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Most individuals buried with a dolmen are often someone of high status or nobility.  It is said that these rocks well bring them to the afterlife.

Behind the museum and across the bridge is the 고창고인돌군 Gochang Goindolgun.  It’s where real dolmens are located ….

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I saw the number 2500 on one of the dolmen on the mountain.  I am not sure if it has any meaning (like if this is the 2500th dolmen).

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There are many types of dolmens, some of them doesn’t even have support at the bottom, it is just covered by a large boulder.  Others don’t have a number so I suspect it is just a normal rock.

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It’s quite a sight from above the hill…

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… and that concludes the funnest part of the trip 🙂

Recap:

Lunch : Nalaegung 나래궁 : 전라북도 고창군 고창읍 읍내리 584-17

Mujanghyun 무장현 관아와 읍성 : 전북 고창군 무장면 무장읍성길 45 .

Borinara Hagwon Farm (보리나라 학원농장) : 158-15 hagwonnongjang-gil, gongeum-myeon, kochang, jeollabuk-do, south korea

Gochang Dolmen Museum (고창고인돌박물관)  : 전라북도 고창 676, Dosan-ri, Gochang-eup

April 29 2018 – Day 535

Posted in Chuncheon 춘천, Gangwon 강원

Chuncheon 춘천 : Soyanggang Skywalk (소양강 스카이워크), Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street (명동 닭갈비 골목), Ethiopian Korea War Memorial, and Sculpture Park 공지조각공원,

This week found myself back in Gangwon-do in Chuncheon!  I’ve heard many nice things about Chuncheon, so I was really excited.

I took a bus late Saturday to Seoul first and stayed at a friend’s place. The next day, we took the metro for an hour from Sinnae Station, near the outskirts of Seoul. The metro was above ground, so we go to see the buildings slowly replaced by farmlands and mountains.  There were many people in hiking gear and would get off at various stops.

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After arriving at the last station  – Chuncheon Station, we walked to our first attraction Soyanggang Skywalk (소양강 스카이워크).  On the way, my friend and I passed by some signs indicating that a famous Korean Drama called Winter Sonata was filmed here.  This show brought a lot of overseas tourists to this city, especially Japanese.

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The Soyanggang Skywalk is compose of glass floors that takes visitors straight out into Soyanggang sea.

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I think it was just the ‘thrill’ or the experience of walking on the glass floor because the end is like a cul-de-sac and you come back.

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It was 2000 won for admission but you get a 2000 won coupon to buy coffee at the small coffee stall next door.

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Chuncheon is fairly big but I feel that much of the main attractions are concentrated in one area.  Therefore, from the skywalk, we just walked towards downtown to one of the more famous Dakgalbi Street (Dakgalbi means stir-fry chicken) – Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street (명동 닭갈비 골목).

As we were walking, we notice just how quiet the streets were compared with Seoul or even Jeonju.  There were barely any cars and as it was a Sunday, some of the shops were even closed for the day.

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There were more people in downtown, with many young teenagers and adults alike doing shopping above and underground.

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The Dakgalbi street was located right behind a huge chicken statue, making it easy for the tourists to find.

The area around Chuncheon was known for having lots of poultry and many restaurants started selling the spicy stir-fry chicken dish.  The price was fairly cheap and hence attracted many students and soldiers and now local and foreign tourists alike – searching for nostalgia or just to check out the hype (I am the latter).

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There were so many restaurants that were had a tough time deciding.  We consulted Naver and came up with a few options, including this restaurant called Woomi Dakgalbi 우미닭갈비 본점.

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The staff was really busy but they come by from time to time to cook and check if the chicken was ready for us to eat.  Apparently, in Korea, everything goes well with soju, except maybe my stomach, so we ordered cider (Korean for soda similar to Sprite).

Honestly, I thought the dakgalbi was similar to everywhere else I have eaten.  Just like Samgyupsal (BBQ pork), basically all the ingredients are the same and skills aren’t really required to make it good … the waitress cooking our food was looking elsewhere the entire time.  She only made sure there was no red in the meat.  The biggest thing is the price, which was only 11,000 won per person.  It is fairly reasonable, especially for Seoulites! (addy: Gangwon-do, Chuncheon, Joyang-dong, 50-5)

We ate two-person portion with 2 ciders to help fill the stomach.  Normally, they would finish up the leftover (particularly the sauce) with a bowl of fried rice (Korean wastes nothing!).  However, we couldn’t eat anymore, so we left.

Needing a good walk after a large meal, we went around downtown and found ourselves in a traditional market.

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My perception is that seniors don’t make a lot of money and the clothes aren’t specifically fancy so it can’t be pricy.  I was wrong, prices for causal wear and hiking clothes are expensive!

We only walked for 10 minutes when miraculously, I found extra room in my stomach for a Krispy Cream donut and a Starbucks coffee … and there at Starbucks we sat for an hour, just chilling.

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With 2-3 hours of daylight remaining, we made our way to Sculpture Park or 공지조각공원.  We took a bus because walking would take over 30 minutes.

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We saw a photo of this awesome sunset going against the background of the stream.  Unfortunately for us, there would be no sunset for us, because the sky opened and small drizzle came down.

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There were a few sculptures but they were for kids I think, ..a bunny here and a bunny there.  Then, there was this :

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The park continues after crossing the bridge but I was distracted by an unfamilar-looking building peeking from the other side.  It was an Ethiopian Korea War Memorial.

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This was a building to commemorate the Ethiopians who fought in the Korean War.  That’s right, one of the poorest countries in the recent decades had helped fought in the Korean War.  However, in the 50s, Ethiopia was still ruled by an Emperor (Haile Selassie), and when the United Nations asked for nation-states to join in a coalition, he used his personal bodyguards to create the Kagnew Battalions.

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A total of four battalions were sent and three saw action.  The numbers were conflicting but it mainly says that of the 656 soldiers in total, 120-122 had died.  That comes to 18% of the troops – which is quite high … The first floor of the museum gives details on the Korean War and what lead Ethiopia to join.  There are also medals won by the soliders as well as the uniform and weapons used.  They were mostly paired with the Americans during the war and participated in battles like Pork Chop Hills.

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The second level has a nice observation deck and two other exhibition about Ethiopian goods and history. Across the building is an Ethiopian café that sells Ethiopian food and coffee. (Address: 365-3 Geunhwa-dong, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do).

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After the visit, we went across the bridge to another part of the sculpture park 공지천공원.  The park has some sculpture as well as light display, which lights up gorgeously at night.

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There is also a skateboard park but don’t tell it to the little kids who have taken it over and uses it as slides.  Skateboarders were relegated to the basketball courts next door.

.. and then the rain came, fast and furious!  We took a taxi back to the train station and took the metro back to Seoul.

In Seoul, we had dinner and drank coffee-beer!

April 22 2018 – Day 528 of travel.

 

 

Posted in Buyeo 부여, Chungcheong 충청도

Buyeo 부여: Busosanseong 부소산성, Manor Buckwheat Noodles 장원막국수, Buyeo National Museum (국립부여박물관) , Countryside Whole Chicken House시골통닭집

Buyeo is one of the three Bakeje UNESCO site. The other ones are at Gongju and Iksan. It has the most sites although I think the best ones are in Gongju.

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Prior to going to the UNESCO site, we went to the Manor Buckwheat Noodles 장원막국수. It is located in a fairly hidden location but there was a huge line-up outside nonetheless. The outside of the restaurant looks like a shack but inside was decent. Addy: 충청남도 부여 나루터로62번길 22-5 (우) 33137

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My friend and I ordered cold noodles served with cucumbers and sesame. At 7000 won, it’s a bit pricy … Bloggers said the noodles and soup are very ‘special’. I thought the soup was a sweet, sour and spicy mix … it does kinda wakes you up when you drink it in.

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Next to the restaurant is the Gudeurae Sculpture Park 구드래조각공원. We didn’t really go see the sculpture but for the cherry blossoms that were in full bloom. It was a really nice surprise since we weren’t expecting this.

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After, we went to Busosanseong 부소산성, the UNESCO site. There is an admission fee but it is just 2000 won per person. This place is a fortress, but most of the buildings are now gone.

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The fortress was more of a nice hiking path than a historical site.

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It gives us another opportunity to see and take photos of cherry blossoms!

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There is a famous spot in the fortress known as Nakhwaam Rock 낙화암, which overlooks the river. Legend had it that women the themselves over the cliff after the Baekje kingdom collapsed because the didn’t wish to be subjected to the new rulers.

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More cherry blossoms!

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There are also various pavilions situated along the path, where hikers can rest if they get too tired.

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From above, we can have a nice view of the hills and waters.

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We wanted to go to the Bakeje Cultural Land 백제문화단지 because we mistakenly thought we have a discount. We didn’t and it costs 9000 won per person. It isn’t expensive since it includes the museum but we went next door to an outlet mall instead!

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The sales were terrible and the stores weren’t particularly interesting to me. Most of the stores at the Buyeo Lotte Outlet were sports wear such as Adidas or local golfing wear brands. We still managed to walk for an hour.

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Since we have a bit of time, we went to Buyeo National Museum (국립부여박물관) , which is free! It is quite small compared with other museums but they still have four exhibition halls along with a national treasure – a Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje.

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There are almost 1000 relics at the museum.

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I am not sure if the above is a replica but there is a gorgeous wall Buddha carving on one of the side walls.

Leaving the museum, we went to grab dinner but found a five storied stone pagoda of the Jeongnimsa Temple Site. Interestingly, it is located in the middle of the city. There isn’t much at the site aside from the pagoda and another building at the back … possibly the temple?

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Dinner was a chicken, fried whole. The place is called Countryside Whole Chicken House시골통닭집. It is an odd sight isn’t? The place is famous for chicken and two people can usually finish one. It was a little bit oily for my taste. Adding green onion is an extra 2000 won.

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On our way home, we went to a strawberry festival in Nonsan! We missed our exit so we stopped on the road

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We arrived on the last day of the festival so many of the boxes of strawberries were sold out.

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The venue was near the waters and a little away from the city of Nonsan itself.

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We bought strawberry moche  and long strawberry rice cake.  The latter was not good …. it had no strawberry taste whatsoever ~

Anyways that was the day trip – April 8 2018