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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hello Seoul! ( before that, what's to prepare?)

During the recent public holidays of Maulidur Rasul & Thaipusam, me & my colleagues went to Seoul, South Korea for a short trip aka farewell trip with Kak Erma before she's retiring. Some of our colleagues couldn't join us due to personal reasons. 

It was a very last minute plan. The idea came during luncheon with them. I had only 2 weeks to book, to plan trip itinerary & to gather information. Since it was my 1st winter trip, preparation was a bit extra than previous trips. So what I had to prepare before fly to Seoul?

South Korea is 4 seasons country. Thus you've to check what will the weather & temperature be during your stay. I checked it here, . Feb is still winter time & forecast temperature was between 2c to -10c.

Make sure international passport is not expiring in less than 6 months. Had to renew my passport as it's going to expire in Feb. Did it in Port Klang cuz less crowd compared to Shah Alam. Due to time constraint & Chinese New Year holidays, I was only able to do it in the last week before flying. 

Basically you need to wear 4 layers before you go out to winterland. A long john set, a t-shirt, a sweater/jacket, a winter jacket, a pair of jeans, a pair socks, a pair of covered shoes, gloves & a muffler (if it gets harsh cold). My thermal wear/long john was bought at Universal Travelers for RM169. The SA said it can stand till -15c, great. At first I was planning to buy at Uniqlo because it was cheaper with promotion but they sold out their legging. They only had the inner t-shirt, if not mistaken only RM39.90 (promotion price). 

Winter coat? It's super expensive so I just borrowed from a friend :) If you don't have a friend to borrow from try to find at FOS or Uptown for cheaper option. At FOS, I found nice fleece jacket cost about RM99 & a bubble jacket RM129 but size is limited. Some said it's cheaper to buy in Korea but I forgot to survey the price. Regret that I forgot to snap a jacket while I was in Seoul. I guess the excitements overridden all my shopping plan.

If you already have both long john set & winter jacket, then you're ready. The rest are just normal clothes. T-shirts, sweater/jacket & jeans. Pack light cuz you won't be sweating. I survived 4 days with only 1 pair of jeans :) Oh ya if you're a hijab wearer like me, a pashmina scarf is good to provide you warm.

Socks, yes you need it to cover your feet from freezing. Recommended thick socks. Any type of thick socks will do but if you can't stand cold, get a wool type.

It would be great if you have a pair of boots as it won't get slippery on icy road. For me, I just make do with my Nike running shoes which I barely utilized it as running shoes.

I didn't wear any muffler neither glove cuz I find it uneasy & survived the winter cold. I can stand the cold but apparently my skin is not. Rashes appeared on my wrists due to dryness. Well it gone after I applied hands lotion religiously.

I look like a penguin.

Trip itinerary:
You don't want to be a lost puppy especially in a country where English is less spoken. Research well the destinations & what are your group preferences. My group prefer for shopping so our destinations mainly covered the shopping spots. Meanwhile yours truly prefer sightseeing & culture. 4 days is too short to squeeze all the favourite destinations but we managed to get a balance itinerary. 

My itinerary was,
Day 1 - arrived to Incheon International Airport - apartment - Namdaemun Market area - check in apartment

Day 2 - Deoksugung Palace - Dongdaemun Market area - Itaewon

Day 3 - Myeongdong - Lotte World (Star Avenue) - Kwangjang Market - N Seoul Tower 

Day 4 - departed from Incheon International Airport. 

Time management is important. My itinerary was not perfect as I was not aware that fabric shops at Dongdaemun Market are closed on Sunday. If your trip is still far in advance, do research well all the related information of you planned itinerary.

Blogs are very helpful source to gain as much info as you can. You can get lots of tips & learn what to expect. Plus their beautiful pictures will inspire you more.

Among of all the blogs I stalked, these 2 blogs are my top fav Budgettravel2korea , Jamieliew . Love them cuz  they feed me a lot about Korea. Also this Honvee boy have sets of lovely pictures of Korea. He is  only 17 years old but those pictures look like a professional work, I'm amazed. Kamsahamnida to all of them!

Visitkorea is another resourceful website, I would say Korea Tourism really made an effort to update this website from time to time. You can get pretty much lots of info from this one website alone.

Money!!! :
You can't get around without money (of course) let alone for shopping. Just to let you know almost all tourist attractions in Korea require entrance fees. For me a budget of RM1500-RM2000 is more than enough for subway, accommodation, shopping & entrance fee. It's advisable to change your currency before flying. Rate is far cheaper in Malaysia compared to in Korea. I changed mine during lunch break of the departure day (again time constraint).

Foods :
Lots of instant foods! Maggi mee for sure, bread, rice, 3in1 milo, canned chicken chunks & tuna.

Accomodation : 
I surfed a lot on TripAdvisor, Agoda, Bookings and found lot of good deals  before ended up with recommendation made by our colleagues :)

I guess I've covered enough what's to prepare before flying to Korea ^.^ Now are you ready to fly to Korea?