Winter (again!) in Korea – chill walking around Seoul

*extremely picture-heavy post

As it was a Sunday, we decided to drop by Myeongdong Cathedral. As the guesthouse was located only at Chungmuro, we only walked rather than take the train.

Weirdly, we got lost and we ended up at a Presbyterian at the other side of the road! We got confused with the spires, even though it was not our first time to go to the cathedral. We spent a good ten minutes looking for it.

When we finally arrived, the mass just ended and the people were filtering out. A bunch of them were getting free calendars from a tent. Mon tried to get one and he was given.

When I tried doing the same, an ajumma said “Give calendar after you attend mass”. T_T I am always unfortunate with free stuff.

Winter sun in Myeongdong Cathedral

They also have LED roses in Myeongdong Cathedral

They also have LED roses in Myeongdong Cathedral

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Winter (again!) in Korea – Something old, something new: Doseonsa Temple and Dongdaemun area

extremely picture-heavy post

Waking up, I can’t help but feel giddy with what’s ahead of our first full day in Korea. Of course, I was still feeling very sick. But there is really something about adrenaline that makes you forget your sore throat.

The good thing about the hostel is the free breakfast. It is not much (e.g. coffee, bread, butter, jam and cereals), but compounding the amount we will pay outside for food, it is still something.

Seoul Tower silhouetted against the winter sun

Our hostel being a station away from Myeongdong, we just walked for 5 minutes before reaching the busy intersection. Was it cold? Yes. But cold enough to wear gloves? Not really. So what we felt in the airport last night still rang true the day after. We also were able to rent a Wi-Fi egg from the hostel for the whole duration of our trip. We just had to pay KRW 50,000 deposit, which will be returned when we leave.

However, I still have to buy a pair of earmuffs. Like mentioned back in 2012, I have lost it somewhere in COEX mall on our last day.

First foray at Myeongdong

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Winter (again!) in Korea – the arrival

*extremely picture-heavy post

After four years, I can’t believe that we are traveling again to South Korea! Especially after the passport and visa drama from a week ago!

Mon and I have a soft spot for Seoul. We have been twice there before (summer of 2011 and winter of 2012), and we look forward to see what changes there might be. The country is to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, and it will be interesting to note of any preparations that they have (if there is).

Before anything else, I will be traveling with a very sore throat. Just imagine my horror waking up on Thursday barely able to speak. But this has been planned already and I packed a bottle of Bactidol for extra measure.

Sore throat!

Our flight left the Philippines at around 3:00 pm. We will be arriving four hours after in Incheon International Airport. I was feeling a bit feverish during the flight, but somehow, my excitement to be back eclipsed my predicament.

It is no secret that I love winter so much. However, I was anxious that I might not even see snow when we arrive. Global warming is real. I have been monitoring the weather for days before we arrive and not a single snowfall took place in Seoul. Sure we can go to Seoraksan just to see snow, but we do not have time for that.

Night about to fall

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Checking Korean visa status online

After four years, Mon and I will be visiting South Korea again! Just like in 2012, we will be there during winter. It is not without its roadblocks, though.

First of all, Mon had a problem with his passport. I was too afraid that he would be held up at the immigration in the Philippines when he followed me to Bangkok last October after my training. Our flight back to the Philippines was on the 31st of October. Two days after that, his passport would have been less than 6 months. Provided that it was still within the validity period during his stay with me, but it nevertheless made me quite nervous.

The earliest schedule for his passport renewal was on November 18. Counting the days for an expedite processing, his passport should have been released on the 29th. But, alas, it was not the case. We had quite a scare and his passport was due to be available on December 9. We still have to process our visa and we were already stretched thin. Good thing he took a chance the other day and got his passport 3 days ahead of the already-delayed schedule.

Word of advice: please make sure your passport’s validity is well more than 6 months your travel date. It is very stressful, given that the release date set by DFA is getting too unreliable for comfort.

As I write, his visa is on process, while I already got word that my visa was approved. How? I checked it online.

Waiting for my turn at Window 3 - Korean Embassy Philippines visa

Waiting for my turn at Window 3

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