Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Korea free and easy : Transport.. Asiana, Arex, subway and Korail..travelling to Yeosu Expo

Asiana flight to Korea, SEoul..
Bibimbap on flight. However, if you don't take beef. Then you have to eat the normal flight meal.
They provided Hot pepper paste for both meals.
The good thing about taking Asiana, they do have some  benefits.
For example, 50% of arex ticket if you present your boarding pass when buying tickets.
More credits for evergreen sim card and half price of dragonhill spa entrance fee.
One thing I like about Asiana is I do not have to take a train to somewhere to board my flight when going back home. I had to do that when I took cathay pacific back from Seoul to Singapore. Have to reach the airport earlier.

Photos from my flight window.
I never miss taking photos of sunrise and sunset.
I am not much of a sleeper on flight.

Taking Arex is relatively easy. Just follow the signs and then buy the tickets at the bright orange counter.

Sometimes, the signs are just right at your feet. 
The train was relatively empty when I was taking Arex, maybe because it was in the morning.
There is a luggage shelf at every cabin for storage of luggage. Lot of spaces.
The train is very on time.
The negative is if you not staying near the Korail station, you have to transfer to the cab or the subway. Subway do not have escalator at every point, so you have to carry the luggage up the stairs.
or drag the luggage to the taxi stand.

Kpop idols for entrance to Arex.

The train.
Took the train to Seoul Station

 The top is the Arex map and the other is just the subway map in the subway.
 The ride was a bit boring but the seats are spacious and is quite comfortable.
Enjoy some of the scenery along the way.

Alternative way of getting to SEoul is by bus.
The plus about taking the bus if your hotel or accommodation is not near to korail. Save the hassle of bringing the luggage up and down. Subway station do not have escalator
For bus, the luggage is stored at the luggage compartment.
However, there are limited seats and luggage spaces so do leave early if you are taking the bus to the airport.
Visit korea page on transport
Machine to buy T-money (ezlink).
There are 2 version. One is the normal card and the other is just a small card that you can hang around your hp or camera.
The machine like to switch from English to Korean at times.
I kept mine after every trip and used it for 3 times in 3 years?
We did a top-up of 30000 won for our trip.
Took the subway to Yongsan  to change KOrail to Yeosu Expo

We were rushing for the train, there is a slight flight delay and we book Korail tickets Yeosu expo in advance online.There are different timing and prices. We were worried about train tickets selling out and we have to waste precious time waiting for next train. and some trains has a longer travel time but is cheaper.

The train ride took around 6 hours. REmember to buy sitting and not standing. Although is more expensive, standing for 6 hours is no joke.
There was no space in my carriage or any of the train I took to store my big luggage. Only a tiny overhead compartment. I do not want to leave my luggage at a place where I can't see it.
For my trip from Yongsan to Yeosu expo, the leg space was just nice for me to put my luggage at my seat. However, my legs has no space to stretch or move.
On the trip back from Busan to Seoul, I requested for the back seat. I used the empty space behind my seat, which was supposedly space to allow me to incline my seat, to store my luggage. For this train ride, the leg space was smaller, so luggage cant be store at the seat.
We had a unhappy moment. A young Korean couple came and chase us out of seats. They insisted that we took the wrong seats. The train was full, no one bothered to come forward and help us. we don't speak Korea. In the end, we were forced out of our seats. We had to look around for the train staff who chased the couple away. Check your car/seat number and call for help if anyone try to chase you from your seat.

We bought some food from the Yongsan station and coffee from the convenience store to consume on the train. They allow food on the train. And we had been rushing from airport to Seoul station (arex) to Yongsan (subway) so we were very hungry. We still have to take a 6 hour ride.
I find the train more conducive for sleeping then the plane. 
I ordered the prawn burger from lotteria, reminds me of fish-o-filet.

If you can't sleep, you can catch a bit of sight along the way. But there is not a lot of things to sightsee.

Korea free and easy : Portable Wifi egg rental LG u+

I chose LG u+ as it was recommended on forum as the cheapest and value for money.
Lg allows wifi hot spot for up to 10 users. Therefore, is good if there is a group of friends travelling together.
Some of the other operators only allowed up to 3 users.
LG u+ cost 8000 won per day and 5000 won per day for rental of more than 5 days.
Wifi egg is card size but thicker, maybe 0.5cm? Quite compact.
REntal at 1st floor : Arrival Hall between gate 9 and 10 ( 0600-2200) or between gate 5 and 6 (24 hours)
Return 3rd floor: Departure Hall  Counter AB, E, F and M.

Other wifi egg rental operators, prices range from 8000 won onwards and discount are usually given for long term rental. However, there is a need to make a reservation online. They are at the arrival hall too.
kt rental olleh

Operators above also provide phone rental for those who prefer a private 3g service. You do not need to request your friend to switch on the wifi hotspot everytime you need to use.

The price of other companies can be cheaper. 
There was a promotion from mid May to end June 2013 which make other operators relatively cheaper. However, I did not see this information on their website and Korean Tourism board only posted it online at around end of May. I had already rented wifi egg from LG.

For some operators, prices quote does not include the 10% vat tax. A  200000-300000 won deposit is needed for rental. You can use your credit card to pay the deposit. 

The wifi egg  charges with the mini usb cable. The charger provided can be used to charge most of samsung and htc phone. Battery life around 6-8 hours for the wifi egg. To me, it is more than enough as I do not like to spend too much time online when I am travelling. Just for research, on train rides and replying to important messages and mails.

There is another operator , Evergreen, is a prepaid sim service with 3g internet. I was interested in renting this at first as it is the cheapest.
However, the shop only opened at 7/8am and I had to catch a train to Yeosu.
You have to bring an extra hp for the korean sim if you do not want to miss any calls from your singapore sim. I am not sure about wifi hotspot for the phone.
evergreen is also quite active on facebook. You can message them in English and they reply to questions in English. 
You can now order evergreen sim online and pick up at various location including at seoul airport for free.
If you are following a package tour and have no time to pick it up, they can mail it to your singapore address but at a cost. The sim and the shipping will add up to around $50. Nano sim will cost slightly more.
Shipping is fast, takes around 2-3 working days.

Make sure you are able to access the internet before leaving the counter. It is harder to find help outside the airport. and take down the number of the customer helpline.

If you are just travelling in Seoul, internet is available at cafe and hotel. It may not be necessary to rent a wifi egg. However, is good for doing researching and surfing the net on long train journey or when you are lost. At restuarants and cafes with password, just ask them for it. They are quite willing to provide customers with the password.