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
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.
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
Note: There’s a November 2017 announcement of visa-free entry in South Korea for Filipinos (as well as Indonesia and Vietnam nationals) for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Details at the end of this post.
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 country 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, it nevertheless made me quite nervous.
(Need a copy of the South Korean visa application form? You can download from the Embassy’s website, or click these forms to download: South Korean Visa Application Form – Word Document or South Korean Visa Application Form – PDF Document . Don’t forget to print it on an A4 paper i.e. 210mm x 297 mm.)
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
Last day in Thailand! I could not believe that the 18-day stay drew to a close. It felt only yesterday that my newfound friends and I braved the train to Bangkok with our luggages in tow.
Mon and I thought of buying a new set of luggage, as sort of souvenir from our trip. It would be very useful for our planned trip to Seoul in December as well.
I’m gonna miss this place
Our flight back to Manila wasn’t until 2:00 PM. We had plenty of time to do some last minute shopping before checking out of the hotel at noon. But we were wrong.