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Korea mainly but also Hong Kong - September 2011 - Page 5

Day 13 - Thursday, 15 Semptember 2011

Korean National Museum

The museum tried to fool me again. When I got there, the signs were still up saying CLOSED TODAY. But I suspected this was wrong.
Meanwhile an entire school group stood and pondered the sign in great confusion.
Luckily once I got to the museum it turned out they just hadnt brought the signs in from yesterday.

The museum was heavy on ancient pottery, calligraphy and maps, which doesnt make for good photos, so there arent many. I especially enjoyed the maps.

After the museum I returned to the Seoul Grand Park area to do the walk that I saw on the map, unfortunately, my camera went flat.
This caused great confusion as I had changed batteries in the morning, except I had forgotten to charge the battery (I rotate 3 batteries).
So you get no photos of the nature walk, there were trees, a path, a couple of streams, some butterflies, and some views, you get the idea.

On the way to the subway I spotted the only decent car I have seen in all of Korea. There are a lot of Porsches getting around, but they are all Cayennes or Panameras.
The actual Korean cars are starting to look decent, the latest Kia or Hyundai is far nicer looking than any new Japanese car.
Thats all the car talking I am going to do.

This is the reflection pool outside of the museum, where you can reflect on your horrible reflection.

This is the middle section of the two halves of the museum. Dissapointingly you cant work over that roof section to go between the two halves.

Some sort of monolith, I have learnt that Koreans never really decided on a written language until recently.

They built a house inside the museum. Its not as good as the houses they built inside the Tokyo Edo museum.

The lobby area with a giant totem pole thing.

Various Buddhas.

Golden Samurai.

Times Square

In the late afternoon I decided to head to Times Square. Every asian city has a shopping mall called times square.
I didnt do any shopping here, just wandered about amazed at the underground connecting tunnels that go forever.
The actual mall is up market and very quiet compared to the underground parts that connect the stations.

On the way back I checked out the food sections in the basements of various department stores just as they were closing, things go for cheap at this time, but I had no way of reheating anything which was unfortunate...so I had a custard filled goldfish.

Tomorrow I am leaving for home, which will take a long time, I get to look at Incheon airport (worlds best airport), and a 3 hour stopover in Tokyo.
In Incheon I have no 'status' so I will have to slum it like a backpacker. Qantas need to lift their game and get a deal with someone here so I can eat free stuff!

I think its possible to go anywhere the subway goes like this, with interconnecting underground shopping malls. The amazing thing is they are all so busy.

Korea had their first F1 grand prix last year, apparently it was the first motor racing event of any kind, and the first circuit in the country
This is a fake plastic car that doesnt do anything other than employ someone to stand near it.

Inside times square. It had a great food court but unfortunately its one where you pay at a central cashier and get a vibrating disc, and there was only Korean writing at the cashier so I couldnt order.

There is a lot of interesting sculptures around it and on the roof, I think this photo came out really well.

The outside of the building isnt particularly impressive, it snakes between existing buildings including a hospital.

What you say?

Allowing people to attach padlocks in the mall food court would be an issue, so instead you can write a sticky note expressing your eternal love....notes will be removed every monday morning.

Plastic representations of Korean food are very authentic, the real thing also looks like its plastic.

I wanted a hot dog, but was able to resist. I am sure they would be horrible.

This is an interactive avenue of stars, you put your hand in someones hand print in the concrete and the display changes to suit. They were all Korean stars but girls were very excited to put their hand where someones hand once was.

My dinner was a salad. It was very fresh and healthy...compared to the hot dog I really wanted.

Day 14 - Friday, 16 Semptember 2011

Incheon Airport

Time to leave Seoul, unfortunately, I could have used another week it seems. And I never really left Seoul either.

Leaving is pretty easy, today I am going to the worlds best airport to fly on the worlds best airline, which means I am excited.
Some last minute research revealed there is an in town check in building, so I decided to go do that and wave good bye to my baggage.
This was smooth, the lady there new I was connecting in Tokyo to Qantas to Sydney, then to Adelaide, and that I would have to collect my bag in Sydney, transfer terminals in Tokyo etc.

The airport is a long way from the city, 70km according to a sign. I could either take the train or the bus for the same money (about $10).
I did the train on the way here so I will take the bus, and look out the window, since I am early anyway.

This is me, in my hotel room, the Ibis Ambassador Myeongdong. I have no complaints, internet worked flawlessly, they had a couple of english tv channels, room was always clean and the bed was fine and it was very cheap.

And it had a good view, this is the view out of my window.

My last ride on the Seoul metro, second only to Tokyos metro apparently, Seoul is also the worlds second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo, I wonder whats in 3rd place? Shanghai maybe.

The in town check in, no lines here at all. By using this, once you get to the airport you just go through the dimplomatic point and they view that your passport is stamped and you go straight through.

Waiting for the limo bus, these guys tried to remove this sign and something snapped and bulbs shattered etc.

The limo bus lived up to its name, the most comfortable bus I have ever been on. 2 x 1 seating, chairs that are semi laid back permanently, tv etc.

The road to the airport follows the river, its amazing how many bridges go over it, and once you are between Seoul proper and Incheon, how many are under construction, I stopped counting at 10.

Seoul has its very own gold building, just like Shenzhen (which seems to have 10)

The Korean national assembly, seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Today is a fairly hazy sort of a day, but I had great weather the whole 2 weeks, basically no rain to speak of and weather in the mid 20's (thats 70's for those of you who refuse to accept the metric system).

Crossing over the giant bridge to Incheon island.

The bridge seems to go over a giant sea of mud. I guess the tide really goes out here.

The departure hall, its not as massive as some other airports.

The aesthetics at the departure lounges are nice, real plants everywhere, great view out the window.

You can watch planes take off and land all you want, I did.

The terminal is bigger than it first seems, theres 2 long fingers that run off the main arc, which arent just gates but shops and restaurants as well, theres also a train thing to a concourse terminal.
Both Korean airlines are in the main building, most non Korean airlines are in the concourse part.

In the middle section theres lots of singing, dancing, swordplay, cultural activities (I think I saw a calligraphy lesson going on), and kids playing orchestral versions of the theme from the godfather.

Redundant photo is redundant.....except to get to.....

Photo number 300, the last photo I will take in Korea unless something happens and my flights delayed or North Korea launches an attack or similar. My lunch, more salad, only with deep fried chicken, I like to think its been fried in beer so I can have beer and chicken, which seems to be the thing to do.

BRB, going to Tokyo.

Tokyo Narita Airport

The flight from Seoul to Tokyo was largely uneventful, and surprisingly on a 747.
It was a mixed 747, in that it was part cargo plane, part passenger, the seats didnt go all the way to the back, I have never been on one of these before, but it explains why such a big plane was used for such a short 90 minute flight.
It was however very hot on the plane, and taxiing in both Seoul and Tokyo took forever.
I am half way through watching Super8, so I now have to hope Qantas offers it on their system like Asiana does.

Arriving into Tokyo and I had to change terminals. The transfer desk is hidden and I am the only person that used it, they had to make a phone call to make sure its ok cause I dont have a boarding pass for my onward flight, but after a few minutes they let me through.
Terminal 2 is quite a bit nicer than terminal 1, which is strange since JAL uses terminal 1, perhaps its just because its newer.
There was now a chance for hilarity, waiting for the transfer bus, theres a Japanese guy and his wife going absolutely crazy about having to wait because they aree going to miss their flight.
It seems they didnt know they had to transfer until its too late (or almost, I will never know!).
He is pleading on his knees no less to make the bus leave early but of course they wont go.
Hes literally running around in circles going crazy, once we are on the bus he starts yelling orders, the driver isnt even on yet, I thought he was going to try and drive it himself.
It gets better, before we arrive at terminal 1, it stops at another point in terminal 2. Of course theres no one there waiting. But the driver has to wait for maybe 3 minutes. This guy was running on and off the bus, another crew bus drove past and he is yelling at it literally.

When we finally arrived at terminal 2, 3 minutes later, he sprinted to get off the bus and hit the door with his face as it was still opening.

When I calmy walked past to the transfer desk to get my boarding pass he was yelling at the screens showing which gate to go to, I never saw him again.

Now...I am going between lounges eating and showering just for fun.

OK, I lied, I took another picture before leaving Seoul, this is my Asiana 747.

Since I will likely never fly Asiana again, I took a couple of pictures to bore you with. I didnt have a bulkhead, but it was roomy enough, and only half full.

Lunch was of course, some kind of fried chicken, or maybe it was fish, they fried the crap out of it so I couldnt really tell.

Since I will likely never see this terminal again unless Qantas changes or goes broke or something, I took a photo to remember it by.

The above mentioned transfer bus, you can just see crazy guy, hes taken the seat closest to the door, staring at his travel documents in disbelief. Im up the back of the bus, acting tough.

Took a snap of a Delta 747 just cause I love planes, right on dusk.

In the first class JAL Sakura lounge, had some tempura prawns and Japanese style beef curry (which was delicious and had chunks of beef in it, too often Japanese curry has no texture at all).

General view of the JAL first lounge, which is in the main building, theres another one in the satellite terminal (where Im headed) but its smaller.

I am proud of this photo, I am playing with the planes.

Now im driving the unmanned train to the satellite terminal (I hope you are getting the impression that I love airports).

The JAL lounge had a wait on their excellent showers, so I had to use the Qantas ones, which are business class not first class (and look it).

My plane, Gondwana dreaming I think its called, I seem to recall being on it before, either from London or Tokyo last time.

Now I am snacking on some sushi waiting for my flight, apparently I have been given a free upgrade to premium economy, which I havent been in before. See you from Sydney, where I have a 4 hour wait for my flight home to Adelaide unfortunately.

Day 15 - Saturday, 17 Semptember 2011

Sydney Airport

The flight from Tokyo to Sydney was uneventful.
I was pleasently surprised to find not only had I been upgraded to premium economy, but due to low seat sales to Tokyo since Tsunami and nuclear holocaust, Qantas are selling the business class cabin as premium economy.
So I got a fully lay flat bed, and there were only 3 people in the entire cabin section.

I tried hard to watch the new pirates of the carribean movie, but it was just too boring, once I had eaten too much and put my bed flat...I laid flay for 9 hours before landing in Sydney.

I now have a 4 hour flight in the Sydney business lounge followed by a flight to Adelaide which takes 2 hours, but since I make that same flight each and every week for work, I doubt I will bother updating this again, unless North Korea targest Australia by accident instead of South Korea.

So much leg room I cant even get near the bulk head, the seat goes pretty much fully flat, it is longer than I am.

Redundant picture of the seats next to me, which remained vacant.

Dinner was however from the economy menu, still it was ok, some sort of beef ragout.
Strangely they did offer the full wine menu, but thats not much good to me.

After arriving in Sydney, you have to transfer by bus. The customs area at Sydney was a zoo, with multiple jetstar flights having arrived and all of them with their baseball caps on, stocking up on duty free smokes and booze and generally being lost confused and angry.
However, on the flight I was given a priority pass and walked straight out via a dedicated customs gate then straight to the front of the line of immigration where the they didnt even look at my form, then straight onto the bus past waiting people (I felt like an idiot at this point because I think some of them had been waiting for a while).

One last airport shower, this time in the domestic business lounge. Showers in airports are the best idea ever.

Contents

Latest Update

Day 1 - Saturday, 3 September 2011
  Adelaide to Brisbane
  Brisbane airport
Day 2 - Sunday, 4 September 2011
  Hong Kong Arrival
  Tsuen Wan
  Causeway Bay
Day 3 - Monday, 5 September 2011
  Repulse Bay...no
  Repulse Bay...yes
  Kowloon
Day 4 - Tuesday, 6 September 2011
  Shenzhen Again
  Repeats
Day 5 - Wednesday, 7 September 2011
  Hong Kong Airport
  Taipei Airport
  Seoul Arrival
Day 6 - Thursday, 8 September 2011
  Namsan
  Din Tai Fung Korea
  Yongsan and Itaewon
Day 7 - Friday, 9 September 2011
  Gyeonbok Palace
  Dongdaemon
Day 8 - Saturday, 10 September 2011
  War Memorial
  Love Hotels
Day 9 - Sunday, 11 September 2011
  Incheon
  Dos Tacos
Day 10 - Monday, 12 September 2011
  Seoul Zoo
  Taking it easy
Day 11 - Tuesday, 13 September 2011
  Gwanaksan
  Hongdae
Day 12 - Wednesday, 14 September 2011
  Insadong
  Walk until lost
Day 13 - Thursday, 15 September 2011
  Korean National Museum
  Times Square
Day 14 - Friday, 16 September 2011
  Incheon Airport
  Tokyo Narita Airport
Day 15 - Saturday, 17 September 2011
  Sydney Airport