Friday, March 29, 2013

itinerary: winter in seoul, south korea

with updates from random people over the social network scene, i came to know that it's still wintery in temperate places, when spring should already be evident at this time. the weather has indeed shown to every corner of the world, its unpredictable and frenzied behavior.

for me who has been living in a tropical country all my life, winter is always a novel and interesting idea. however, it will be nothing but being uncultured if i'd say that winter is perfect and close to being magical, with immaculate white snow that carpets over every possible patch of land, over the once barren trees, over the roofs and over everything that gazes towards the winter sky. how about accompanying that winter reverie with the winter wonderland song? but beyond all this, i do understand that winter requires hard work, layers and layers of clothing and to whatever is necessary which i have no idea anymore. i bet people in these places have long scorned winter to go away. it isn't however utterly hopeless since spring has started to heed its cue. say the cherry blossoms in japan? well, i'm sending my comforting virtual pat on the backs to these people and a virtual pocket full of sunshine. stay strong and hopeful, friends.

but before another season will completely take over, let me share with you my itinerary when i braved to join in the pertinent fad of wearing excessive clothes, boots, piles of socks, scarves, gloves and every piece of clothing which man invented to effectively insulate the body from the extreme cold.

and that was early february.

Namsan Tower in Seoul, South Korea
At Namsan. Taken by a random tourist from Thailand (hah!)

Day 1: 07-Feb, Thursday
21:00 Head to Changi Airport Terminal 3 by Taxi
22:00 Check-in flight SQ608 SIN to ICN

Day 2: 08-Feb, Friday
00:10 ETD SIN to ICN
07:35 ETA ICN (GMT +9:00)
        Buy T-Money Card at GS25 with T-Money Load
         Instagram (Just have to! lol And thanks to the ultra fast airport wi-fi!)
        Change to full gear winter clothes
         Spend moments to sink everything in (This is a solo trip btw.)
10:00 Head to Yeongdeungpo in Seoul by train 
                     Incheon Airport -> Gimpo Airport -> Yeongdeungpo Market
         Get mesmerized with the winter landscape while on the train
12:00  Leave luggage at HI Seoul Youth Hostel
         Walk around Yeongdeungpo
         Yeongdeungpo Underground Shopping Mall
         Lunch at Lotteria
         Hop on a train to Seoul City Hall
         Hop on another train to Myeongdong
         Head to Namsam Tower by bus
         Seoul City View by day, by dusk, and by night (Frozen toes after! haha)
         Unfreeze toes inside a cafe in Namsan and drink coffee
19:00 Head back to Hostel by train
         Buy food at 7-Eleven on the way
         Dinner at Hostel

Day 3: 09-Feb, Saturday
07:00  Wake up
10:00  Meet with the Youth Goodwill Guides at Anguk Station
          Changdeokgung Palace
          Changgyeong Palace
          Bukchon Village
          Lunch at Insadong
           Purikura in Hanbok clothing
          Gyeongbokgung Palace
17:00  End of Tour
          Head back to Hostel
20:00  Dinner at a local restaurant

Day 4: 10-Feb, Sunday
07:00 Wake up
09:30 Head to Gapyeong Station for Nami Island (Regular Train)
          Hopping on trains
          Endless stairs and a lot of walking for train transfers
12:00 Arrival at Gapyeong Station
         Take bus from Gapyeong Station to Nami Wharf (Follow the locals on which bus!)
          Get on boat to Nami
         Stroll around Nami Island
         Make new friends
          Delight on a sea of snow
         Of course, take plenty photos!
19:00  Head back to Seoul with new found friends
         Take express train
         Dinner at Hostel

Day 5: 11-Feb, Monday
08:00 Wake up
11:00  Head to Ewha Womans University
Lunch at Saboten around Ewha
A bit of shopping around Ewha
Head to Dongdaemun
Walk around
Stumble upon Cheonggyecheon Stream
Buy local snacks
Head to Namdaemun Market
Walk around
Buy souvenir items
Head to Myeongdong to cap the day
Have coffee at Starbucks (I know it's a shame. :( )
18:30   Head back to Hostel
Dinner at Charm Charm Since '06 Chicken
Figure out how to repack with additional load to consider!

Day 6: 12-Feb, Tuesday
08:00 Wake up
10:30 Checkout from Hostel
         Head to Incheon Airport
12:00 Lunch at Paris Croissant in the airport
12:30 Check-in flight SQ609 ICN-SIN
         Clear immigration (Bye for now Seoul!)
         Kill time by going to a small museum
         Take a loot of Lotte chocs
         Starbucks again (Due to free coupons from their tumblers)
16:35 ETD ICN to SIN
22:15 ETA SIN (GMT +8:00)
23:30 Take taxi to home
         Work the following day (!!)

i had high respects on winter as a bitterly cold season in seoul so, i didn't dare to cramp my days with too many activities. a -18 degree celsius temperature was a serious matter to deal with after all.

and for the longest time, i really came up with an itinerary that i religiously put everything on my kind of drawing board which comes in the form of a spreadsheet. i used to do this a lot before but i eventually became lazy that notepad in electronic and a real notebook are then my handy partners.

on this seoul agenda though since this was a solitary trip, i really had it in excel with nitty-gritty details like train transfers, transportation options and a special column for the estimated cost. however, it didn't mean that i followed it strictly for i am too stubborn to do that even if it meant turning against myself. yeah, i'm simply bipolar like that.

i even brought a printed itinerary with me but i never took a single glance on it during the trip. this reminds me to be more prudent to do my share for mother nature. well, the benefit of painstakingly working on an itinerary or even just a rough draft is i can put in memory the essential things and in an unfamiliar place, knowledge is power.


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