My South Korea Tour Day 3. “2D1N in Busan”

Itinerary

 Pyeongchang ==> Seoul KTX Station ==> Train to Busan ==>  Jagalchi Market ==>  BIFF Square ==> Yongdusan Park ==> Gwangan Beach & Bridge

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In the original plan, we should leave Pyeongchang before 7 o’clock in the morning. But, it would be rude to just leave the deliciously prepared breakfast by our lovely host couple.  Look at those beautiful colors! We were definitely full and ready for the long trip down south. We left our holiday home later than expected.

 

Busan Tour

To complete our Korea tour, we decided to take KTX train to Busan. Nope. We did not have zombies on board. But, surely we had a lot of funny, memorable and not so memorable experiences on this trip.

 

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KTX to Busan.

 

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KTX to Busan. We booked our Korail Pass night before our trip. Since we are traveling in group we decided to book a 2-day flex group saver pass so we could save from our transportation expense.

We were pressed with time to redeem our voucher for the KTX ride. We kept running here and there. My cousin and I were the younger ones that could move fast so we decided to facilitate everything. We knew that tickets should be printed but still we took our chance to just show a soft copy along with our passport and credit card used to book it. When we arrived at the KTX station to redeem our reservation, we were advised to have it printed. Good thing there is a public computer that gives access to internet and printer inside the Seoul KTX station. We used our tap card to pay for it.

We had a bad experience on this machine station though. Ahead of  us were 2 Thai males who didn’t seem to figure out how to use the machine as well. Realizing that the queue was already long, they stepped aside. When we took over and paid our part. Then, they offered to “help” us. Unfortunately, they just tricked us! They used our money and time for their own use, printed their own ticket and left. Charged to experience. Thank goodness we made it in time. It was crazy! Come to think of it. We finished everything in less than 30 minutes and we had still 15 minutes before our train arrives.

TIP: We confirmed our ticket back to Seoul in Seoul KTX station so we didn’t have to take the queue in Busan KTX station the next day.

Assigned Seat. KTX has pre-assigned seat. It was funny but probably due to excitement to take our seat and eat our kimbap (it was past 1 o’clock in the afternoon, by the way.), we didn’t even remember to check our seat number. When we saw four seats facing each other (and with a table) I know our eyes dazzled as if we found a treasure. LOL! We did not hesitate to take it. It was until our first bite, when the ticket inspector asked us, that we wished we could hide ourselves from embarrassment. (^_^) Good thing my cousin took the tickets with her in the toilet. We made an excuse and he left. We surreptitiously moved to our assigned seat laughing.

Internet. Yes. Our fingers have been itching to post an update in social media site. We were finally on board train to Busan! Thankfully, we had good access of free internet en route to our destination.

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And we were finally here! #BusanKTXStation

When we thought that Busan is warmer because it’s in the south, we were actually caught unprepared. The weather was rainy so the wind was chilly. Later on, my Korean friend who grew up in Busan told me that it’s actually a “rain city” because it often rains there. (Just like my hankies, I think I lost 2 umbrellas with me here. LOL).

 

 

Popcorn Hostel Nampo

South Korea, Busan, Jung-gu, 자갈치로47번길 6-1.

This hostel is very cheap and ideal for backpackers. I booked it through Agoda. We paid like 550pesos each. Not bad for overnight stay. (Upon updating this blog, I saw the website of Popcorn Hostel. It’s a great improvement because I think they didn’t have it when I booked it (or did they?)

 

BIFF Square

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Our hostel is located conveniently within the city center. It’s pretty near the Jagalchi Market (smaller arc behind me) and the BIFF Square.

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BIFF Square is just right across our hostel. At the entrance, we were welcomed by these food stalls. It was rainy yet many people were still strolling around. While taking pictures of each other, one ajumma called our attention and told us to move while murmuring. It turned out that were covering her stall from prospective customers.

 

Going around BIFF Square

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Yongdusan Park (Busan Tower)

A lot of our plans in Busan got cancelled due to rain. So, we just decided to explore nearby tourist attractions. A leisurely walk brought us to a Buddhist temple beneath a hilly slope, then we found a stair, which seemed to be never-ending. Our curiosity on what’s there to see brought us on top of Yongdusan Park. We only realized it when we’re already up there.

 

 

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Few steps more to Busan Tower. On this day, my phats were crying. LOL
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Citizen’s Bell

 

 

 

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This could have been a better view had we gotten a chance to enter Busan tower. The place was already close when we arrived. The buildings behind us were actually skyscrapers, but we only got this view.
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Flower clock, General Lee Soon Shin’s Monument and Busan tower in my background.

 

 

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Busan Tower Upclose

 

 

 

Gwanganlli (Gwangan Bridge)

When in Busan, one should not miss to see the waters. Either you go to Haeundae or Gwangan Beach or both. In our case, however, we just visited Gwangan Beach. Aside from the fact that we could see the beautiful diamond bridge, we wanted to have seafoods for dinner too, but we just could not find one because it’s hard for us to navigate our location.

 

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Gwangan Bridge at night.

 

Gwangan Bridge (popularly known as Gwanganlli to many tourists), is a suspension bridge located in Busan, South Korea. It connects Haeundae-gu to Suyeong-gu. The road surface is about 6,500 meters long, with the bridge as a whole spanning 7,420 meters. It is the longest bi-level bridge over the ocean in Korea. In addition to providing a quick way to get around, the bridge offers breathtaking views of nearby attractions such as Oryukdo Island, Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Gwangalli Beach, Dongbaekseom Island, and Dalmaji Hill.

We were able to witness a firework’s display when we got there. It was just short as it was almost ending when we got out of the restaurant.

 

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Samgyetang.  It means ginseng chicken soup. It is consists primarily of a whole young chicken – filled with garlic and rice, scallion and spices, among them jujube and Korean ginseng

 

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Our exhaustion searching for Korean seafoods restaurant in Gwanganlli brought us in this restaurant. There were actually many restaurants in the area but they were Japanese. The Korean restaurant we saw had many people drinking and they don’t serve dinner. Personally, I was glad to have been here. I’ve always wanted to try eating samgyetang. It was very delicious. It seemed to rejuvenate my tired body from walking. It was my first time eating something with ginseng. (When I got home, my mother was laughing whenever I talk about ginseng because she said we have a ginseng plant at home. She even showed it to me. Oh well, Korean ginseng is different from our ginseng. hehe)

On my 3rd day traveling around Korea, I realized that the side dishes vary according to area. While we were served mountain vegetables in Pyeongchang, we were served seaweeds, and I think spicy fish anchovy, in Busan. The owner probably realized that I was curious about ginseng so she gave us 2 baby ginsengs to be eaten fresh. It’s my first time so it tasted weird to me but it was not bad, and I finished it

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After eating, we decided to go back to our hostel in Jagalchi. We asked for direction from the restaurant owner. We had 3 options, subway, bus and taxi. We took the easiest and fastest: taxi. There’s a very little difference in terms of cost since we are four, and we can divide the cost. It was a good decision, and our driver was very trustworthy, only that he drives really fast. He went over 100kph so I had to tell him to reduce speed. Thanks to my limited Korean, he was able to understand me.
Taking the taxi was a very good decision. We were able to see the downtown of Busan at night. We also used the beautiful Bukhang Bridge. It was another new information to me.
 
Bukhang Bridge is the 2nd longest cable-stayed bridge in Korea. It was completed last 2014 so it’s a new attraction. It would have been nice if we were able to see the daytime view of the sea from there.

 

Breakfast at Jagalchi Market

We woke up early with hope that the rained had stopped but unfortunately it didn’t so we had no choice but to just have breakfast and prepare for our trip back to Seoul. We decided to go to Jagalchi Market for some local food. The marketplace is perfect to experience local culture.

Jagalchi Market, located on the shoreside road in Busan’s Jung-gu, is Korea’s largest seafood market, selling both live and dried fish. After the Korean War the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the vendors here are called Jagalchi Ajumma, “ajumma” meaning middle-aged or married woman in Korean.

 

This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market.

We did not walk further as the rain was pouring.  When an ajumma called us to eat at her restaurant, we checked and decided to have our breakfast there. She was kind enough to offer fresh towels to us. It was sealed. Good service! Anyway, since it’s rainy we opted for something with soup. She offered a hot-pot of eel soup and we went for it. I love spicy food so it was perfect for me!

While waiting for our food to be served, it felt like I was in a Korean drama. LOL! There were several regulars (probably). There was also a big TV monitor showing a replay of Korean dramas. She also offered us pajeon and, later on after meal, a cup of coffee!

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Travel Tips:

1. If you are traveling in group, I suggest making an online reservation through your credit card for a Korail Group saver pass. You wont be deducted until you redeem it. In our case, we are 4 so we booked at least a day before. We bought a 2 day flex pass. (http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfKrPassAbout.do) from 102,000W to just paid 91,000W each. Ok, so basically we spent more money in Busan just to experience KTX ride ^_^.

2. Have your Korail pass printed. If you were not able to do it, there is a machine for printing in Seoul KTX station. We had a bad experience from Thai travelers though. We thought they are going to help us but instead they printed their own, and I paid for them. Let’s charge it to experience.

3. Be at the KTX station at least 30mins to 1 hour because the queue may be long.

4. Don’t forget to check the weather. It was raining when we arrived in Busan. On our way, we just checked the sunset because we were planning to go to Gamcheon Culture Village but we failed to check the weather. Days after, my student said it always rains in Busan TT TT.

5. The downtown Busan is like a typical city in Seoul with many cosmetics shop too. As for the weather, it was pretty cold because it was raining.

6. Gwangan is famous for its diamond bridge and its beach. However, the area is less busier than Haeundae beach which is also a famous tourist place in Busan. We want to eat seafood that time but it’s too late so we just had Samgyetang in Busan! -_- It was delicious though. One whole chicken for each of us. 

7. We used our tapcard for Taxi! it was like 10~12000W from Gwangan beach to our hotel in Nampo. Not bad for the 4 of us chipping in.

8. If you want to Go to Gwangan beach, don’t go to Gwangan station because it’s far from the beach and takes a lot of walking. Instead get off at Geumnyeonsan Station. It’s much nearer.

9. By the way, in KTX Station in Seoul we already booked our return ticket so we didn’t have to wait in line in Busan. Also, when we arrived at Busan KTX, we were able to change our travel time to a much earlier one. This is possible.

10. Subway Korea app also has a map for Busan. ^_^

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My South Korea Tour: Pre-departure

Point of Departure: Kalibo International Airport (KLA), Kalibo, Aklan

Prepare for Terminal Fee (Php750) and Travel Tax (Php1650).

My friends and I live in Iloilo City, the City of Love. It takes about 4 hours to go to Kalibo, Aklan by bus. We decided to take the KLO because it’s cost-saving!

Convenient. This airport is a gateway to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Boracay Island. It has direct flights to Incheon, South Korea so we didn’t have to go to Manila and cost another plane fare. Yes, for us who live outside the mainland Luzon, we have to take another plane ride. We do have an airport of international standard but it only serves Hong Kong and Singapore flights for now (I heard we will soon have direct flight to South Korea!).

Cheaper Fare. The fare is much cheaper than direct flight MLA-ICN. Plus, we were able to stumble upon a promo fare KLA-ICN last January. (Start your own monitoring now!) With additional 20kgs baggage, I paid Php3719 (Cebu Pacific).* However, it’s a red eye flight, 1:50AM. We left Iloilo for Aklan April 7 at 4:00PM and arrived around 9:00PM. (We had a lot of waiting time. I have no complaints though. I can do it again.) For our return flight, there are several options: PAL, CebPac, AirAsia. My friends grabbed the 7:00AM ICN-KLA, (Cebu Pacific) but I took 4:00PM ICN-KLA (Air Asia) because it’s hard for me to wake up early. I spent about PHP7,230 back to PH.

*MLA-ICN fare at that time was about Php6000 – Php7000 (Cebu Pacific).

Please see below for the pre-departure expense:

Bus from Iloilo to Kalibo (est.) with return Php 700
Terminal Fee Php 750
Travel Tax Php 1650
KLO-ICN (CebPac) with 20kgs baggage allowance Php 3,719
ICN-KLO (AirAsia) with 20kgs baggage allowance Php 7,230

Total

Php 14,049.00

I booked this ticket long before I applied for a Visa because I want to save. So, it’s definitely a risk. But, it was worth it when I got my Visa!

IMMIGRATION. I traveled with 2 other co-workers. Only 1 of us has international travel. Added to the fact that I am a civil servant, it took me a little longer in the immigration. I showed the officer my travel authority but it was only a photocopy because the original was attached to my Visa application. Good thing my co-worker has the original copy of her document so it was compared. We also showed our office ID to support. Thank God, I was able to convince the officer that I am not escaping anything in the Philippines. hehe

I hope this helps you think about your preparation. If you have questions, feel free to comment or send a private message. (^_^)

How to Fill out Korean Visa Application Form

Below are some common confusion points when filling out the Korean Visa Application form. Please read through this post to guide you in completing the Form.

 

General Instruction from the Embassy

  • You must fill out this form completely and correctly.
  • You must write in BLOCK letters either in English or Korean.
  • For multiple-choice questions, you must check [√] all that apply.
  • If you select ‘Other’, please provide us with more information in the given space.

1. Personal Details

  1.2 Chinese Name.

Write N/A if not applicable to you.

  1.4 Date of Birth. Take note of the order in writing dates.

Korea has a different system in writing dates. This is because in their culture they write the most general first and the specific last (Year/month/date). This unique system is also visible in writing address (e.g. South Korea, Gyeonggi-do, Yongin-si, Giheung-gu~ etc)

  1.7 National Identity Number.

      Philippines has no National ID system yet. However, for my application, I used my Social Security System (SSS) Number. My other colleague used her Driver’s License, while my cousin did not write anything. All of us got our application approved. So, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

2. Details of Visa Issuance

As I have mentioned before I didn’t have other passport or prior approved Visa so I just wrote N/A for all the space that needs to be filled up.

3. Passport Information

       3.5 Date of Issue and 3.6 Date of Expiry.
          This part didn’t require any format. So, I just followed how the dates were written in my Passport.

4. Contact Information

       4.1 Current Residential Address.
I believe this part of the form is not that difficult to understand. However, please take note that if your Current Residential Address is the same as the Address in Home Country, you do not need  to write it on 4.1 anymore.

5. Marital Status

       Funny but based on experience, this is the only form so far where I don’t have to say I am single, rather it is ‘unmarried’. Anyway, if you are also unmarried, just tick that option and put N/A for the other details.

6. Education

       6.2 Name of School.
I actually have 2 majors. I used the name of the last University I attended to.

7. Employment

       7.1 Current personal circumstance.
       I am a civil servant. I had to check that option. Consequently, I also provided travel authority to support my documents (Our agency said it is not part of the requirement but they took it anyway just in case it will be needed.)

       7.2 (d) Telephone Number.
       I wrote the phone number of our Human Resource Department.

8. Details of Sponsor

       8.1  Do you have anyone sponsoring you for your visa?
       My answer was NO. Actually I have my invitation letter from my Korean friend but she is not sponsoring the trip. I paid for all the travel expense.

   Although I traveled with friends, we applied separately. They did not have invitation/sponsorship from any Korean or anyone residing in Korea.

        If somebody is sponsoring you, I believe you should show the Visa Officer that the person paying for all your travel expense is financially capable of doing so.

9. Details of Visit

     9.1 Purpose of Visit to Korea. 
At some point, I got confused because I have invitation letter from my Korean friend attached. I don’t know whether I should check Tourism/Transit, Visiting Family/ Relatives/Friends, or BOTH . In the end I just ended checking Tourism/Transit option.

By the way, you have to know what is written in the invitation if the content was written in Korean.

    9.2 Intended Period of Stay. 
I stayed for 8 days while my friends stayed for 5 days. We initially planned to stay for 8 days but some of my friends decided to just stay for 5 days. I already received the invitation letter and I was hesitant to ask my friend to change it so I just decided to stay for 8 days. This is to match the data in the invitation and my application. I thought it’ s going to be exciting too!

     9.4 Address in Korea.
     We had several hotels but we only wrote the first hotel we were going to check in.

     9.5 Contact Number in Korea. 
We didn’t have Korean number. My friends wrote the hotel’s phone number. My cousin did not write anything. In my case, I wrote my friends contact number as visible in the invitation letter (My friend’s contact number/Her name).

      9.6 and 9.7. Travel to Korea and other International Travels.
     As I’ve mentioned in my earlier post, I didn’t have any international travel. Hence, the N/A.

     9.8 Travelling with Family Member.
     Although I travelled with my cousin she is not one of those listed as family member in the form. So, we cannot write each other’s name.

10. Funding Details

    10. 1 Estimated Travel Costs.
     How much is enough to convince the Visa Officer? That I don’t know still. But, let me share that I wrote $1000 for 8 days. My friend also wrote $1000 but the agency advised her to reduce it. This is because we cannot write amount that is almost equal to the money in our bank account. It has to be less than the money in the bank statement. (The agency also mentioned that $600 is good enough. However, since we will be traveling outside Seoul, she wrote $700)

10. 2 Who will pay for the travel expense?
a. I wrote my name.
b. I wrote N/A for relationship.
c. I wrote ALL TRAVEL EXPENSE  for the type of support.
d. I wrote my contact #.

11. Assistance with this Form

I did not receive any assistance so I just checked NO and put N/A for the other boxes.

12. Declaration

I just wrote my signature just beside the date of completing the form.

I hope this could make your application process a bit easier!

My South Korea Dream

Let me start this blog with this beautiful quote from the drama series Goblin.

“Your choice is the only answer in your life”  -Kim Shin, Goblin: The Lonely and the Great God (2016, Korean Drama)

This quote struck me, and made me reflect on my everyday life.

I am admittedly a long time Kdrama fan. I spent my adolescent days (*cough* maybe until now *cough*) enjoying Korean drama series. Ohh please don’t misunderstand me. I believe I did well in my studies and managed to get my dream job. (^_^)

My South Korea dream probably started long before I realized I was already dreaming of it. Due to financial constraint, I had to set it aside temporarily for my other equally important goals. Nevertheless, it served as my inspiration to aim higher. I worked hard, maybe failed in the middle, and hit my goal. This is all because I made my choice to pursue my wishes in life.

“Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.”

I created this blog to take account of my memories. I’d like to share this to dreamers like me who wished to have their dream travel in life. I’ll start with my South Korea tour, how I managed to get my Korean VISA application approved and how I planned this travel… I will also update this with my past (I’ve been keeping them in my FB. I think they deserve a blog post too), and future travels.

My dears, this is my appreciation of how beautiful life is… that despite all the odds I’ve gone through, life never fails to amaze me.