My Journey – 나의 여행

Hi all,

I got back from my first trip to Korea yesterday (16th May)  and, while I’m still exhausted from the jet lag, I am already so excited and ready for my next visit. I already have plans for what I would like to do and I can’t wait to meet up again with all the wonderful friends I made. But that’s a while off yet. For now I thought I would talk to you about some of the things I experienced, starting with, the journey there. I logged all note worthy aspects of my flight to Korea and what I did to pass the time, because it was a very long flight and I thought some of you might like to know what to expect if you plan to travel to South Korea. So, without further ado, here is my travel log from Manchester UK to Seoul SK:

17:45 (Manchester time) = Plane takes off. Sunny warm weather. Chatting to two lovely ladies (Hi Jackie and Cisca) from Holland who are travelling home from their holiday in the Lake District. They ask me to teach them some Korean customs. I happily oblige. They also ask for me to give them the name of my blog. Again, I am happy to oblige.

18:15 = Snacks and drinks are served. We get an egg sandwich, a caramel biscuit, a glass

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Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze

of water and I ask for a beer. I’m celebrating after all. Luke (the friend I am traveling with) looks like he’s asleep.

18:23 = Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze plays on my Spotify playlist. The lyrics “please excuse while I kiss the sky… I don’t know if I’m up or down… I don’t know if it’s day or night” seems particularly poignant

18:46 = We land in Amsterdam. Reminder that 8 o’clock is 2 minutes of Silence 2nd for world war…

20:49 (Amsterdam time) = We buy beers. Flight is delayed. Luke tries on one of the dust masks I brought with me, with my sunglasses on too. Hilarity ensues

 

21:08 = Our second round of beers. The big boy plane taking us to Seoul arrives. We prepare to board.

21:22 = The plane is delayed for a further 30 mins. I Skype my brother.

22:23 = We finally queue for our flight. I am exhausted but we have to stay up for our dinner to be served. Gimme that food!

22:46 = on a plane. An ajushi (an older Korean gentleman) is in the window seat on my row. No-one else sits next to me and I am sat on the aisle seat so I have plenty of room. Ready to sleep to be honest. Estimated journey time 9h 41m

22:54 = I’ve just realised its 05:54 in Seoul… If I want to adjust to Korean time, I want about 5 hours of sleep… or to wake up at around 11 KST…

23:34 = We take off. Everyone just wants to sleep. The poor ajushi next to the window is clearly exhausted. Cleaned my face with a face wipe and put my night cream on. I want to sleep but don’t want to miss the food cause I am quite hungry.

23:46 = I get my pillow and eye mask ready, I need sleeeeep.

23:57 = Other passengers are taking their shoes AND socks off… please, no, don’t be these people.

00:45 = Food is served. Bad bibimbap and a slightly weird salad, everything else is good so I enjoy the cheese and crackers and the pudding which is like a caramel cheesecake thing . I finish my book, The Wonder by Emma Donahue.

01:35 = I neeed sleep but the guy next to me needed the toilet and got up… so I have to wait for him… once he’s back though, I’m going straight to sleep.

 

07:13 = I wake up, and actually feel pretty well rested. I want to brush my teeth and wash up though. Can not wait to have a shower… 2 hours till land

07:24 = I put on a tea tree sheet mask cause my skin felt gross. I used the warmed towel handed out first and then put on my mask. It’s on for 20 mins

07:35 = I have butterflies in my stomach… I can’t believe I’m nearly there 😱

07:47 = The mask comes off. I feel so refreshed and much more awake.

07:50 = Breakfast is served. It includes eggs, tomatoes, cheese, bread, fruit and yogurt.  Oh and coffee… lots of coffee…

08:02 = Conclusion. Food was good. Coffee was baaaddddd

08:11 = Luke didn’t sleep at all. He feels “like he’s been hit with a bat” I put on my under-eye collagen patches so that I don’t look quite so dead. These stay on for 20 minutes.

08:15 = Under an hour to land. Excited doesn’t even cover it!

08:31 = Eye patches come off. I really need a wee 😭😭

08:42 = Got back from the bathroom. Had a quick wash, moisturised my skin and brushed/dry shampoo’d my hair. I feel way more human now. However I can’t find my toothbrush… I hope I haven’t left it at home… some gum will suffice for now.

08:57 = Just filled out my arrival card. Anyone else always get worried you haven’t declared something even though you have nothing to declare? No? Just me? Okay… 15

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Tired, but happy to be in Korea.

minutes to land!

09:04 = I can see Korea!

16:15 (Seoul Time) = And we’ve landed. It’s a nice sunny afternoon in Incheon Airport!! Now, off to Seoul.

Personally, I found that my headphones were one of the most useful things I brought with me. That and my neck pillow. You are given some headphones on the longer flight with KLM but I like to use my own as they are more comfortable. They were great when I slept and combined with my neck pillow and sleep mask, I slept so much better. On the way home from Seoul I actually didn’t use my eye mask or my earphones and slept terribly. So my advice, use your headphones to play relaxing music for sleep or just to block out plane noise, bring a comfortable neck pillow (you might be given a pillow on the plane as well but they aren’t very supportive) and wear a mask over your eyes, cause its never completely dark on the plane.

What are your tips for a long journey? Please let me know in the comments below.

긴 여행을 위한 조언은 무엇입니까? 아래 의견을 알려 주십시오.

 

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What’s in my bag? – 제 핸드백에 무엇이 있나요?

  • Purse

I will be taking this small, pink, zip-up purse with me to Seoul to use as my everyday purse. It’s small enough to fit in either my handbag or my pocket and the zip keeps my money and cards safe. It is also conveniently sized so I can fit more things in my bag. Also, this purse has a little gold bee on it, which reminds me of home and my home city of Manchester. If you didn’t know, one of Manchester’s best known symbols is the worker bee, which is rooted in it’s industrial history. The bee has come to represent the people of Manchester, with the city being our hive. For more information, click here.

  • Camera/Cameras

Honestly this is a bit of a cheat, because out of the 3 cameras I am bringing only 1 will actually fit in my bag. However, the other two will be carried either in another camera bag, or simply hung over my neck. I will be bringing my GoPro camera, and its accessories, my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ330 12.1 MP Compact Digital Camera and my classic Polaroid camera. My Polaroid camera I will only be taking to special destinations and occasions as it is too precious (and inconvenient) to take with me everywhere.

  • Phone

This is a bit of an obvious one. I need my phone to contact my friends and for the very useful apps I downloaded which should help me navigate my way around Seoul. It will also be used for photos and filming… so I guess its like a 4th camera…

  • SPF/cushion foundation

This is just to touch up my make-up and make sure I am protected from the sun. The compact cushion I use is the Dream Cushion with SPF 20 from Maybelline in shade 01 (oh boy am I pale) and I really like it as its light and makes my skin look dewy and natural. It also lasts ages and doesn’t run or rub off on my clothes so that,s an added win.

  • Hair Tie

This is kind of self explanatory. I have a lot of hair. It gets in the way. So I have a hair tie to tie it up into a ponytail.

  • Portable charger

I got a new on of these recently and it is a LIFE SAVER. My phone runs out of charge so quickly, especially if I have apps running and I’m using the internet a lot. So I will have this tiny little cuboid of genius to rescue me when my battery is low. It only takes half an hour to charge and then has enough juice to recharge my phone twice! I know, its great.

  • Lip balm

Again, self explanatory. Gotta keep those lips hydrated y’all.

  • List of names, locations and contact information

This will be my cheat sheet if I end up totally lost or in a situation where I need help. I will have the names, location and other information in English, romanised Korean AND Hangul so that if I am unable to fully communicate with a local (which lets be honest is more than likely) I can show them what I need or where I want to get to so that they can understand.

  • Useful phrases and manners.

This too will be useful when interacting with people in Seoul. Korean culture is drastically different from British culture, and it is my absolute least intention to offend or upset anyone. I intend to learn and adapt as much as I can, so I can connect and build strong, lasting relationships with native Koreans. While there are somethings I am pretty certain I will remember, there are other things (pronouns, manners, phrases and customs) that I might forget. Bringing flash-cards with me for me to look at while on the subway, or in a taxi, will help me to remind myself of the proper behavior and manners. While I absolutely don’t think anyone will tell me off for not remembering something, I think it’s common courtesy to try to behave in a way that is recognisable and common for your hosts. Please don’t think that if you come to Korea you will be shunned if you don’t know everything. That is not the case.

 

 

What do you take with you in your bag when you travel? Is there something I have forgotten? Please leave a comment and let me know.

여행할 때 가방에 무엇을 가지고 가나요? 제가 잊어 버린 것이 있나요? 댓글 남겨서 알려 주세요.

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What to expect – 예상할 수 있는 것

Ahead of my trip I thought I would let you know what I’m looking forward to and what you can expect to see and read from my trip.

1] Food – 음식

No surprise really, but I’m so excited for all the different foods I’m going to try. Japchae 잡채, Ddukbokki 떡볶이, Samgyeopsal 삼겹살, Gimbap 김밥… the list is almost endless. And as well as trying all this food, in restaurants, at vendors and at the homes of kind friends and hosts, I will be cooking some too! So look out for lots of food pictures on my Instagram and watch out for my reviews and recipes on here.

2] People – 사람들

I’m thrilled, excited and moved by how many people have asked to meet up with me on my first trip to Seoul. Friends old and new have filled my diary with fun activities and generous offers to take me out for drinks or meals, and in some cases have even invited me to eat at their home. I’m very lucky to have such a supportive network of people to help me as I try to navigate my first Korean experiences and I will write about some of them in future posts. You might even see the occasional selfie or group photo.

3] Places – 장소

As well as people I’m excited to see, there are many places I am excited to see to. Places of historical, cultural or personal importance, as well as some places that are just pretty or fun. I will be sure to record and write about what spots and location I feel are worthwhile, what might not live up to the hype, and I will be sure to pass on any hidden gems that I come across while I am there. I will also try, as hard as I can, to explain clearly how to get to these places and how much it might cost. If there are any places you think I should try to go to, please do leave a comment or send me a tweet.

4] What next? – 다음은무엇을까?

This trip isn’t simply for pleasure. I plan to move to Seoul and I feel that in order to live and work there successfully and happily I need to learn about and connect with the people, the culture and the values of South Korea. This first trip, in a way, is to get all the giddy, excited, rose-tinted, newness out of the way so that I can really start to build relationships and set foundations for my move. All of the things I mentioned above will contribute to the laying of these foundations, and there are some serious discussions to be had and decisions to make… but for now, I’m just excited to be going 😀

Is there anything in particular you want me to include in my posts? Leave me a comment to let me know!

한국에 대해 특별히 하실 말씀이 있으신가요의견을 남겨서 알려 주세요!

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles – 비행기, 기차와 자동차.

Planes – 비행기

So the big kahuna. The 11+ hour mode of transportation. The plane journey. I can’t lie to you, the journey from the UK to South Korea is loooooooooong. I looked at so many different sites and airlines, not only to find a cheap-ish ticket but also, to find a journey that wasn’t insanely long.

The ticket I bought with KLM went from Manchester to Seoul via Amsterdam in about 11 hours 45 minutes. This was actually a pretty good find. Flights were cheaper if you were willing to have more than 1 change, or a long transfer wait, but I wanted as stress free a journey as possible.

It was also cheaper to no reserve a seat. HOWEVER, I am around 6ft tall (180cm) and I can’t sleep unless I have leg room. So I did spend a bit more on a seat reservation. The price of reservation for the longer commutes from Amsterdam/Seoul and Seoul/Amsterdam were triple the price of the seats from Manchester/Amsterdam and Amsterdam/Manchester, but at least I will have the comfort of knowing that I will be far more likely to sleep on this journey.

In order to make the journey slightly less horrific I have also made sure to pack everything I need in my hand luggage and my carry on, and everything else I want in the bag in the hold. I also included a few items to make me feel less gross and stuffy as I travel, as well as keeping me as entertained as possible. These include:

  • sheet masks
  • under eye patches
  • travel size dry shampoo/deodorant/body wipes
  • toothbrush
  • at least 2 books
  • downloaded Netflix shows and films
  • phone charger
  • notepad and pens
  • Korean flashcards
  • Colouring therapy book
  • sleep mask and headphones.

These were things I felt I would like to have with me in order to enjoy my plane journey more. If you are planning for a long journey, I’m sure you have things you like to take with you so that you feel less claustrophobic and bored. I will be sure to keep a log of my journey so you get a sense of what the trip is like.

Seoul Trains and other ways to travel – 서울 지하철 기타교통수단

The subway system in Seoul is, I’ve been told, one of the best in the world. Easy to navigate, punctual, clean, not too noisy, cheap and very safe. In fact, if it wasn’t enough that you can download an app (KakaoMap) that helps you find the subway nearest to where you are, what subway you need, when the next train is running AND where to get off, the announcements in the stations are all in Korean and English. Which will really help me cause taking routes that are unfamiliar really stresses me out sometimes and I know I will get lost at least three times over the next few days.

In regards to other modes of transportation I actually know relatively little thus far but I will pass on what I have been told by my friends (Korean and otherwise) who live in Seoul:

  • Busses: Mostly fine. Sometimes if you’re standing and the driver brakes hard or drives like a maniac you will be thrown across the bus once in a while, but its mostly all good fun. Reliable, clean, gets you to a lot of places. Cheap.
  • Taxis: Again, mostly fine. Clean, reliable, gets you where you need to go, cheap and can be very helpful and friendly. However there are always a few who ruin it for everyone else. There have been cases where drivers feigned not knowing English to try and scam more money off tourists, or who refused to drive people somewhere because it was too close/too far. But mostly fine.
  • Trains: Not great for travelling around Seoul. Brilliant for going to other cites. Fast, clean, reliable and affordable. A great way to see the rest of South Korea.
  • Cars: Scary. Not so bad that you can’t manage if you are an experienced driver. However traffic incidents are the second highest cause of death in South Korea…
  • Bikes: Fantastic for going around pedestrian areas, parks or up and down the Han river. Terrifying on roads and around cars. Cheap and easy to rent everywhere though.

Do you have any questions you want answering about travelling to Korea, or what it’s like travelling around Seoul? Please leave a comment and I will try to find an answer for you.

한국 여행이나 서울 근교를 여행하는 것에 대해 질문이 있나요댓글을 남겨 주시면 해결책을 찾아보겠습니다.

follow me on Instagram and Twitter @Connienkiga

Do you ‘₩on’ some money? – 돈을 원하십니까?

Money makes the world go around, well according to Liza Minnelli that is. In any case, it is very difficult to do anything at all without any money. So in order to do all the things I want to do while I am in Seoul I have planned out a budget for the 11 days I’m there, and I’ve tried to calculate how much each day will cost me. I thought I would share with you what I found out about daily costs and expenses in and around Seoul.

To convert my pounds into won I needed to give my local Bureau de change a weeks notice of the amount of money I wanted to convert. In order to do that, I had do do some maths… oh goody…

Getting there – £710+

So I had been keeping an eye on plane ticket prices since December, because I know how ticket prices fluctuate depending on the time of year and events at the destination. For example, just before the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang tickets were higher than usual because of the demand for tickets. I waited until the tickets were at their cheapest, and when I had at least a month to earn back the money I had to spend. The tickets I ended up getting cost me just over £500, and my seat reservations cost me around £180, so the total cost was around £680.

On top of this, I used compare the market to get some insurance for my journey. After looking at all the options available I chose to go with the Post Office’s policy, as it was the cheapest and had the widest coverage. This cost me about £30 days for 11 days coverage. While not vital as part of my journey there, I would always recommend that you get insurance for any journey you take. Especially if like me you are prone to clumsiness and accidents.

This meant that overall, the cost of getting there safely was about £710.

Accommodation – £190

Seoul is a pretty huge city, and what you want to do while you’re staying there should influence where you stay. I want to be able to walk or hop on a subway to get to local historical landmarks, cafes and places to eat, as well as the places I might see regularly when I move there. Taking these factors into account, as well as the fact that I will probably work as a teacher in a university for at least a year at first, I wanted to stay in Hongdae as that is where most student live and hang out. After figuring the rough area I wanted to stay in I used a comparison site to find my accommodation.

After this I had to decide what it was that I needed my accommodation to be or have. I wanted either a hotel or an apartment, for space and security. I wanted it to be near a subway station and for me to have internet access in my room. And, obviously, I was wanting to save as much money as possible. I set my budget at £30 a night, and managed to find a hotel in Sinchon for £16 a night for a standard double room and £17 for a deluxe double room. I know its frivolous, but I thought I’d splash out and go for the deluxe room.

This hotel had everything I needed and was very budget friendly. If you look around I’m sure you can find a great deal that fits your trip style. My hotel ended up costing me £190.

Daily spends (Transport, food, etc…) – £29.65 a day

After consulting with friends who either live in Seoul or who know Seoul well (thank you 동동squad) , I was able to calculate the average costs of each day. Three meals should cost around ₩10,000, transport about ₩8,250, and miscellaneous spends at  ₩10,000 – ₩15,000. This means that for each day I will need at most around ₩33,250. While you might think this is a lot for one day, ₩33,250 equates to about £21.67. Google it if you don’t believe me. However, I’m going to be setting aside around ₩45,500 (£29.65) each day, with the intention of only spending ₩35,000, which leaves me ₩10,500 in case of an emergency.

All together, the total cost of 11 days of activity will be about £327

The Grand total cost : £1226.15

When you add it all together, it seems like an awful lot of money *laughs nervously*. HOWEVER, considering the distance I am traveling, the amount of time I am spending there and how expensive many of my other options were, this is actually a very small amount of money to be spending. Especially since I might be buying a £1000 plane ticket to Seoul in October when I travel with a group.

So, to conclude. Making a budget is hard! I really struggled to try and calculate everything and make sure that I was traveling and spending within my means. However, now that its all planned out, I feel so much more relaxed about it. I can now take it easy, knowing I have everything sorted and it means I will be able to really enjoy my first taste of Korea.

Oh, and one final piece of advice. I was told that the ₩10,000 bill (the green one) will be the one I use most when in Seoul. So, if you guys need to convert your money try and get as many

For more money related information I’d check out a video by Korean Unnie  which explains it far better and far more thoroughly than I do.

How do you save money on Holiday? Do you have any tips? Leave a comment below and share your ideas.

휴일에 돈을 어떻게 모으니? 뭐 좋은 방법 없을까요? 코멘트를 남기고 당신의 아이디어를 공유하세요.

follow me on Instagram and Twitter @Connienkiga