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DAY ZERO: Heading To Korea

Thursday, November 24, 2022

안녕하세요 Annyeonghaseyo! I am finally back from my "revenge travel" in Korea! 


Cebu Pacific Air flies MNL to ICN once daily, CEB to ICN 3x weekly. 


It was supposed to be just a 20-day trip. Then I ended up extending it to 29 days after winning some tours, including a 3-day Busan-Ulsan-Gyeongnam trip with friends.


I found out about the win the moment I stepped foot in Incheon Airport. I connected to the airport wifi, and saw my friends buzzing about winning so I checked my email and saw that I got in too! Since then, it had been a series of lucks and wins, and even blog offers! 


All the pre-travel mishaps--from lining up overnight for a Korean visa, to my friend getting c*vid a week before our trip so she had to move her flight, and then not winning any BTS ticket contests--were easily covered up the moment I entered Korea. I'd like to think that Korea is really my "lucky country"!?


Anyway, the longer the trip, the harder it is to blog! So many photos to sort soooo

Will just take it one day at a time, starting off with this trip's ... 


DAY ZERO.

Heading back "home" (hehehe)


This wasn't my first time flying internationally since the lockdown (I had Singapore), so I'd like to think I was a bit confident and ready compared to last May.


My bags were heavier, as expected (naexcite mag dala ng COATS lol), but even that I was able to resolve before my flight (by buying vacuum bags and getting extra luggage allowance). 



REQUIREMENTS


Honestly, this trip felt like how flights were during pre-c*vid. NO NEED for any of those online sign ups and testing schedules that I did for local trips back in 2021 to early 2022. Just make sure you have the usual: 


1) Valid Passport

2) Valid Korean Visa

3) Your flight tickets (they asked for my return ticket coz my trip is pretty long)


...and that's it! In Incheon Airport, right before the immigration, I submitted a filled-out yellow paper for the health declaration to go in, but heading home to the Philippines--they still looked for my eARRIVAL CARD QR which you can fill up via this website. They asked for it during my check-in in Incheon Airport, and in NAIA before the immigration counter.


NOTE: eARRIVAL CARD can be filled out within 72 hours prior departure from port of embarkation. I signed up while in line for check-in at the airport, lol.


Not required anymore, but I still have with me are copies of my vaccination records (VaxCertPH or yellow passport), my travel insurance which came with my Cebu Pacific flight tickets, and a photo of my business registration on my phone just in case the immigration asks for it.



Longer lines for check-in--taking these as a good sign for my dearest travel industry.


You can also printout your boarding pass through these machines. But I lined up nalang since I have check-in baggages anyway.


I was at the airport around 4 hours before my flight, to be extra sure. No problems encountered with check-in. I received more questioning at the immigration compared to my past flights, I guess it was due to the length of my stay. Usual questions include how long is your trip, where you will stay, what's your work, etc. Again, the key is to be ready with your documents and to stay chill.  In no time, I was already past the immigration and having my coffee in Seattles Best. 



A (BTS) ARMY FLIGHT


What made me felt right at home was seeing so many purples at the airport. I knew they were co-ARMYs taking the same 5J188 flight! 


My first encounter was my seatmate in Seattles Best. She has purple ombre hair, and a card-size keyring dangling from her bag (photo card holder, sure na!). 


I was thisclose to starting a small talk, but it was too early in the day so my introvert side won. I just settled with people watching, travellers passed by this central airport cafe with their Mute Bostons, bags adorned with BT21 plush keychains, and lugging around violet hand-carry luggages on their side. What a fun flight!


All roads lead to South Korea for the BTS Yet To Come Concert in Busan


Practicing my self-timer skills in empty parts of the airport, hehe.


Been dreaming of seeing this sign again in sooo long!


Charging my phone; filled out the arrival card and health declaration to pass time 


ARRIVAL ESSENTIALS


Upon arrival at the Incheon Airport, I took out my list from my phone. An outline of "Things To Do" at the airport:


1. Go to the CU convenience store at the ground floor to buy dinner, and reload my T-Money card

2. Claim my 30-day Korean sim card which I booked via Klook (this one took a lot of time, line was too long!)

3. Figure out which airport limousine to take to get to my guesthouse in Sinchon (this one's easy too, as there are so many information counters ready to serve at the airport)

4. Lastly, withdraw cash (Korean Won) - More on money exchange in Korea via this blog post!


Checking my light sticks, both of which I checked in! You can also hand-carry them, just make sure to remove the batteries.


Line to the Korean sim card; my preferred ATM at the airport


In front of the CU at the airport after getting some food and reloading my T-Money


Bought my airport bus ticket on the spot. They do not accept T-Money card payment.


Waited for my bus here. Also met a few online friends Tet while in line!


TRADITIONAL HANOK HOME IN SEOUL


It was already super late when I arrived in my accommodation. The airport limousine was convenient and affordable, but my stop was still a bit far from where I stayed.


Chilling at the bus!


A few blocks away from my hanok home, I already saw the guesthouse owner Imo waiting for me. Imo, or auntie in Korean, is what most of the guesthouse owner's tenants called her in Booking.com's review page. She was so kind to message me regarding my whereabouts, and waited for me in case I get lost. It was indeed like having a Korean auntie! 


The hanok guesthouse's entrance, which I took the next day.


With our guesthouse imo.


My room for 2 nights. Small but private. I had to cancel a prior booking supposedly with my friend since it's a bunk bed room for two, and I wasn't ready yet to be assigned to another roommate. 


My room is the smallest in a compound of 4 rooms, a kitchen, and 2 bathrooms. It was fine since I was informed about this several times before my arrival.. binook ko sya ng alam ko na na maliit sya. I had mosquito encounters on my first night, but buti nalang may dala akong citronella spray so I sprayed some on my first night while I was half-asleep, and hindi na sila bumalik ulit. 


It was also the cheapest room, which I only booked a night before my flight when I realized I can't stay in bunk beds anymore (sadly, takot nako even though it was my life prior pandemic huhu). It was clean and cozy, with an extra blanket for the sudden cold air at night.


My neighbors. The one right across me even opened her sliding door when I arrived just to say hi. :)


A calling card (with trinket) of guesthouse imo, selfie inside my small room haha!


Opening my luggage was a challenge, but as always mapaparaanan. I just took out everything I needed for the entire stay.


One out of two toilet and bath areas inside the compound. I always use the one nearest my room.


This one's the other toilet and bath. I can't find a place within my budget during my dates that has its own CR, but this one's clean naman and it was only for 2 nights.



After the short tour and house rules, imo left for a meetup daw with her friends hehe. I dropped my stuff, and crossed to the nearest GS25 convenience store. 


Before leaving for this Korea trip, I was already binge watching my Korean dramas and one of them was Backstreet Rookie! The whole time from shopping for food to eating it in our guesthouse's kitchen, Kang Daniel's Something (the Kdrama's OST) was playing in my head.


Finally tried the pouch drink on my first night in Seoul


Clean as you go. Here's the kitchen and small dining area of the guesthouse. I usually just eat here alone.


iCOS Guesthouse 

15, Gosan 3-gil, Mapo-gu, 

+82 10 2750 1490 

Airport Limo: 6002 - 37 mins, Php 414  

Nearest Subway: Sinchon Exit 5

Booking Link


I was once again back in my own "real life Kdrama", and the first episode was off to a very very good start. ♥



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