A Night In Busan

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How beautiful??
This hurts my heart

One of the girl’s named Nicole that I met through a Facebook group before coming to Korea invited me to her friend’s Rosa’s going away dinner in Busan one weekend.

We all got our TEFL from International TEFL Academy (ITA) so it was going to be a dinner with ITA peeps. ITA is pretty cool. They have Facebook groups and many other helpful resources on their website even after you get your certification.

On the 19th of March, I booked my SRT ticket from Jije Station to Busan for ₩45000. It was difficult. I tried to use my jetBlue card but then realized that I have to use my Korean card. I still had a hard time so I called and the dude helped me buy one. It’s interesting cause you can’t buy a ticket over the phone.. Luckily, for my ignorant self, the guy spoke good English. He told me you have to use the passcode that you use for the ATM. It’s nice but also frustrating at how secure the bank accounts are here.

On the 20th I took the 810 bus to Jije Station Suseo Pyeongtaek Gosokseon (express railroad) for ₩1650 and it took about 25 minutes. I walked up to the ticket booth and showed the guy a picture of my purchase on my phone and he printed my ticket out for me.

The station was nice. It had a 7/11 and a cute little cafe.

I went down and took the 313 to Busan. I got one of the early trains thinking I could explore Busan before our meetup. Little did I know the weather would change my plans.

I ended up in Busan around 10:30am and had a few hours to kill. I walked to a Subway that was about 20 minutes away from the station cause I was starving.

After Subway, I took the bus to where our hostel was located. It took about 45 minutes. Myself and two of the other girls booked a hostel for ₩12000 for the night. SO CHEAP. It was called Kimchee Guesthouse in Haeundae and it was super cute and had a nice little sitting area right when you walked in.

While I was waiting for the others so I took a little stroll and ended up going to Coffeesmith. It was only about a ten minute walk to the hostel from there.

Mermaid Statue

Once Rosa arrived, we left our bags at the hostel and went to grab something to eat. We found this sushi place near the beach. It was one of those sushi restaurants that has a display that spins around and you pick whatever plate you want and at the end of your meal the server adds up the colored plates and that’s how much your food is. So convenient.

We finished right around check-in time- 4pm- so we went back to the hostel and checked in. Then the third girl, Emily, arrived.

We walked around for a bit to kill time. We went to the mall and Starbucks.

We ended up meeting with the others around 8pm at this YUMMY pizza place called SOL in Gwangali. The pizza was actually pizza and not sweet in any way!!! Since they only allow four people per table, two of the girls sat at another table.

I tried a New York Lager and another one that I can’t remember. The place was cheap. Me and Nicole split a pizza and I think we ended up paying ₩20000 each? Plus the beers were around ₩8000-10000.

After the pizza, we walked along the beach. It was such a nice night. We tried going into this other bar but it was too full. Soooo, we hopped on the subway back to Haundae and found a bar over there. It was an Irish pub 💚 so you know what that means! Jameson.

We stayed there for a bit and chatted a lot. It was nice to be able to sit at a bar and drink and talk to people again! Felt like the pre-Covid days. Ahhhh.

Rosa and I were walking out of the pub to go back to our hostel when we saw these people go and sit with the others so we went back in. Turned out they were from Spain and they work here. They weren’t teachers but I forget what their jobs were.

Our night/morning ended at 3am. I haven’t had one of THOSE nights since Thailand and it just made me feel all good inside. Mingling and hanging out with people. It felt great.

Rosa ended up heading back to her town early the next morning. Emily and I woke up around 8am? How??? I do not know. We got ready and checked out and then went to find some breakfast. We walked along Haeundae Beach trying to find something to eat. It was very odd that there weren’t any restaurants along the beach. Naver/Kakao Maps didn’t show any so we didn’t know where else to go. McDonald’s ended up being the winner. While eating breakfast, I decided that I’d tag along and go to Daegu for the day. We booked our ticket for ₩12600 each and finished our meal.

After McDonald’s, we walked back to the beach and ended up finding a Lighthouse Observatory and Mermaid Statue. The observatory was beautiful!!! We didn’t walk down to the statue because there were people taking pictures and we had limited time. We walked to the closest bus station and we were on our way to Daegu.

Safe to say my night in Busan was a success.

Doksanseong Fortress

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Bojeoksa Temple
Ammun Gate

Drainage hole

Doksanseong Fortress Forest Park

is right in the middle of Osan and Suwon.

From Anjung, I took bus 80 to AK Plaza.

I hopped on the Korail to Sema station. I make it sound easy but it actually took me a bit because I went the wrong way. It wasn’t completely my fault…Naver told me to go to Line 1, so I did. Then I saw that the subway was going the opposite way. I was also on the phone, which always makes it worse. Will I learn my lesson? Probably not. I just went back and showed the lady at the ticket booth Naver and she told me to go to 7/8. I mean it was kinda obvious that I had to do that, but I just wanted to make sure.

While on the subway, I fell asleep so I missed the stop. I ended up going to Byeongjeom station instead of Sema station. LOL. So, I got off anyways cause it was only the next stop so I was like, “how far can it be?”

Yeaaaah, too long.

I walked back and took the Korail back to Sema.

From the Sema station, Naver gave me the option to take the 9 or 31 bus. I tried walking up to the 31 but the dude told me no. Luckily, the 9 bus was at a red light. I ran over and the driver opened the door for me.

It was only about a five minute ride and then a hike from there.

The Fortress was up a hill and it wasn’t too steep. But it was tough. I’m also not in the best shape so that didn’t help AND it was hot (~13° C & 55° F). Along the road, there were a few restaurants and some nice houses. After about 15 minutes, I reached the entrance.

After huffing and puffing on the path for 12 minutes, I had FINALLY made it to the top.

I wish that the weather was better that day. And by weather I mean the pollution. It was foggy from all of the pollution 😢

The views were still great though. You could (kind of) see all of the apartment buildings and the city.

I wandered around the Fortress with my selfie stick for about an hour.

I came across a temple.

I sat down in a few spots to just take in the views and relax. After completing a full lap, I decided to make my way back down.

Going back down is always easier. The sun was still out but it got a bit chilly. I opened up Naver and tried to find a bus. This area was very rural so it was very difficult. I should have known.

I saw bus 9 and tried to go on but the driver said that he was not heading to Sema Station. I ended up going into a bakery and asking the lady who worked there and she just pointed me to the bus stop that I was waiting at for 20 minutes.

I walked out of the bakery and took a right. I decided to walk all the way to the station. It took about 30 minutes.

Looking back it’s kind of shocking that I’ve made it this far with all of my unorganized/unplanned journeys… I’m not complaining though. LOL.

Once I reached the main road, there were a few bus stops but I figured since I had already started my way to the station I should just go all the way.

I got to the station, I hopped on the Korail and went to AK Plaza. I went inside and treated myself to some Dozo Sushi then took the 80 back to Anjung.

My day trip was a success and very cheap. Next time I plan a spontaneous trip, I need to remember that I have to find a way back home though. LOL.

The Flight & Beyond

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Before I left for Korea, I went on a few Facebook groups and asked a bunch of questions. I was able to download apps before I left and I created a folder, just in case I didn’t have secure WiFi when I arrived. I recommend doing that, just to be prepared. However, the WiFi at Incheon airport was fantastic so I could’ve waited too. The apps that were suggested by the Facebook groups were: KakaoTalk, KakaoMap, KakaoMetro, KakaoBus, Gmarket Global, Subway (지하철), Lotte Cinema (the app has easier steps to change the language to English), Korail (코레일톡) and Naver Maps. The desktop website for Naver Maps is in Korean but the app has the option for English. You also have to download the quarantine app at the airport. They have a banner with the QR code. If you have to delete the app and start over, like I did, this is the link where you can download it or you can simply type it into the App Store: 자가격리 안전보호.

Since I am still in quarantine, I have only used the quarantine app. Once I use the others, I will post an update on how they work and my opinions on each.

I laugh about it now but when I was leaving BOS, I paid $500 for my two suitcases through United Airlines. I did not think it would be THAT much. But then again, I packed up my whole room and also broke a suitcase while my dad was trying to bring it upstairs so I guess I should’ve known. One suitcase was 80+ pounds (36kg+) and the other was over 60 (27kg+). My brother had to come to the airport and help me bring them inside because little old me overstuffed them. Along with my 100 and 30 some odd bags, I had a backpack and a duffle bag which were also stuffed. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with the suitcases for a long time because the airport was not busy. I was also surprised with how packed the flight was from BOS to LAX. I thought it wasn’t allowed to be fully booked, but guess I was wrong. There was not an empty seat in sight.

Imagine walking around the LAX airport with both carry-ons, while dripping sweat wearing a jacket and sweatshirt? That was me. Not to mention when I landed in LA, I had no idea what terminal I was going to. I ended up calling one of my friends (thanks Christina) and she looked up the terminal which was TBIT and I was on my way. About 20-30 minutes later, right as I was about to walk into the gate, my name was called over the loudspeaker. What a memorable day that was. To be fair, it wasn’t my fault because the flight to LAX from BOS was delayed by 20 minutes.

Asiana Airlines vegetarian meal

But at last, I was off to ICN. Before entering the airplane, they took temperatures. I was scared that they were going to deny me because I was hot from sweating and nervous because I was hot from sweating 😅 I had never heard of Asiana Airlines before but in my opinion, they were up there with Qatar. The movie/TV show selection wasn’t that great but the food was delicious. I only had one meal because I passed out right when I got onto the plane. I had the whole row to myself which was awesome for a 14 hour flight. AND for the first time ever, I actually remembered to change my meal plan when I booked the flight to vegetarian. Yay.

During the flight, I filled out 4 forms: arrival card, travel record declaration, health declaration, and traveler declaration form. Make sure you have a Korean phone number and address to use. I only had my address in Korean at the time, so that took about 10 minutes to fill out per page. The flight attendant complimented me on my Korean writing which I am very proud of 🥳 I also downloaded a bunch of Netflix shows/movies, brought a book and downloaded games that didn’t require internet so I could keep myself entertained. Don’t be like me and pack your charger where you can’t find it. I went more than half the flight with thinking that I didn’t bring a charger with me when all along it was in my duffle bag. Will I ever learn to be organized? Probably not.

Since I had symptoms of Covid within the past 21 days (along with coughing on the flight) I got pulled aside once I went through customs. I got handed a lanyard with a note that said “Incheon.” I then sat down and waited to be called. The lady asked me what symptoms I had and I explained that I have allergies and also got a Covid test two days before my flight. Then, I followed these two guys and they gave me a KF94 mask and asked if I had any meal requests (how sweet). The staff asked me what my suitcases looked like so they could set them aside (if you don’t keep the sticker they give you from your suitcase, that’s okay. I only had one and they were still able to pull both of mine off the belt). Then, I was taken to a little cubicle-like area and I had to fill out even more forms. I had to write my Korean address down 3 or 4 more times. After that was done, one by one he sat us down. I gave him my visa and he called my school director and then showed me how to use the app and what information to put in.

The airport staff were super friendly and although we couldn’t really communicate, it was simple and straightforward. The three of us then went through immigration and our suitcases were there waiting for us. One of the girls that I was grouped with came from Virginia but was from Korea so she spoke English fluently and explained to me what was going on. She was so kind!

We then went onto a bus, drove for about 10 minutes and we all got tested. We were put into cubicle-like spaces again, along with our belongings and good WiFi. The room also had outlets and various chargers.

OJ, water, & (I think) milk
First Meal: lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard & mayo

Eight hours, two meals, and four water bottles later we received our results. We were taken back to the airport and went our separate ways. My new friend helped me find a taxi. I gave the guy the sheet with my address in Korean we were on our way!

Second Meal: rice with seaweed, carrots, cabbage, spinach & some other ingredient that I’ve never seen before. So flavorful.

One hour and some change later, I was outside of my apartment building handing the taxi driver ₩190,000 (₩20,000 for the tip). That’s about $172. Just to be clear, I’m not sure if that’s a reasonable price for the distance or if I was scammed. But either way, don’t make the same mistake that I did. I should’ve known to have the taxi driver use the meter because of my experiences in Thailand. However, I was tired and not all there so I hadn’t thought twice about it. So, make sure you have them run the meter before you leave the airport. Or if you have a working phone, use that to find out how much the fare.

At least we made it to Korea before breaking!

Before I left the airport, I went on Google and saw that there drivers expect a tip of 10-20%. That was a swift Google search so don’t quote me. From the airport to my apartment I didn’t have any phone service because I canceled my plan before leaving so I had no way of asking anyone how much the ride should be. If I did get scammed, oh well. I mean he did carry my two humungous suitcases in and out of the vehicle.

I typed in the code to my building, broke my second suitcase, and entered my apartment. What a relief.