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10.2.14

Korea - Day 1

When I last left you I had just arrived at Incheon Airport at around 3:30 in the afternoon. Getting out of customs was pretty smooth. As soon as I got out I went to the toilet to put on stockings under my jeans because I thought it would be super cold. It wasn't as cold as I thought. I had too many layers.

Anyhoo, the first thing I did was go to the Olleh kiosk to rent a portable WiFi device (http://roaming.kt.com/renewal/eng/wibro/rental.asp). If you do ever go to Korea, having this WiFi device is very useful. You can reserve one online. I didn't and I worried that they were going to run out but they didn't. You grab a number from the machine and wait 'til your number is called. They speak English, which makes the process of renting easy. They photocopy your passport and your credit card and you sign a form. They charge your card when you return it at the airport. FYI, you return it to the same place you picked it up at arrivals not, as I thought, at the Olleh kiosk at the departure terminal. Wasted so much time in line.

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Then I headed to the bus terminal to go to my friend's house. I had researched buses beforehand and it cost KRW 12,000 which is around $12 AUD. It was a pretty nice bus and it took a little less than an hour to reach Seohyun Station, which is where my friend lives.

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I got off the bus and I was trying to get to AK Plaza to meet my friend and there was a footbridge. With stairs. And I'm weak and I was struggling to carry my luggage up the stairs. When I was half way up the stairs, some lovely old man carried it up the rest of the way for me. He was saying some things in Korean which I did not understand. When we reached the top of the stairs he gave me my bag and walked briskly away. I hope I remembered to say thank you.

I KakaoTalked my friend and told him I arrived earlier than expected and tried to figure out a meeting place. I had no idea where a good place to meet would be so I ended up on some sort of walkway above the road. This is the view from where I just decided to wait:

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After my friend met me somewhere near AK Plaza, we walked through the plaza itself. It was such a fancy shopping centre. Lots of high end brands like Prada. I showered and got dressed because we were headed out to Gangnam for food (FYI, did not hear Gangnam Style the whole time I was there XDDD) and meet a couple of other friends living in Korea right now.

Look at the super clean subway!

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So the first drink that I had when I arrived in Korea was Starbucks. Naturally. It was November so they were selling Christmas drinks which I did buy. A cold one because I was sweating so much. Too many layers.

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We then head to Mies Container in Gangnam for dinner. The first thing that my friends told me about this place is that there are only male staff and that they're supposed to be good looking. I only got to see the one waiter up close so I don't know if that is correct. My friends eat at Mies a lot so I'll have to trust them on this! Here's a CNN article about it.

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It's an industrial themed (I guess?) fusion restaurant. Lots of cheese and lots of potatoes and relatively cheap once the bill was split between 4 people. Very busy and noisy and had very low light but a really good vibe to it. I wasn't really hungry so I didn't eat a lot which I regret because I didn't get to check it out again during my time in Korea.

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Look at that pretty, artsy thing in Gangnam.

We then headed to E-Mart because my friend needed to buy extra bedding because we were all staying at his place that night.

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So E-mart is amazing. It has everything. Food, drink, alcohol, bedding, clothes AND it's open 'til midnight. MIDNIGHT, you guys. I know we have some K-Mart stores that are 24 hours but they don't have the huge range of products that E-mart does. Bedding bought we headed back to my friend's place, via taxi, and relaxed and warmed up a little.

My friend lives near AK Plaza, a huge shopping centre, and surrounding it are a myriad of other stores and restaurants. At around 2am, in the freezing cold, we headed out to Angel-in-us Coffee, a Korean brand cafe, for random late night drinks. Korean coffee, in general, I don't really like it. Not as good as Australian coffee.

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And then off to a convenience store and look at that cheap soju. That 1, 200 won is about 1 dollar something AUD. In Sydney that would be 12 or 15 bucks a bottle. Yeah. Unfair! I purchased a litre bottle of Cass beer (not pictured, surprisingly) and I was carded! I had no idea what they were saying (and after this experience I tried to learn the Korean words for I.D.) and my friend was like, "She wants you to show your ID". I showed her my passport and yay beer purchased. I want to say it cost maybe 5, 000 won. In any case, it was super cheap and it's the only reason I bought it.

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And odeng! At 2-ish in the morning in winter was awesome. So good. I wish we had carts open that late in Sydney. I'm planning on visiting Korea again in the summer and I wonder if odeng is only a winter thing. Hopefully not, because I wants to eat more!

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Then we headed back and after changing and washing my face I collapsed onto the newly bought bedding and slept!

To Be Continued!

3.2.14

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2.2.14

Getting there

I think I may have tweeted or mentioned in a past post that I was going to Korea and Japan for a short trip. And I did! Back in November 2013. And now in the early hours of Sunday morning I decided to blog about it.

My flight was an AirAsia flight at 9:00pm, from memory. I bought one way to Korea on AirAsia because there was a sale and it was so cheap. $386 with check in luggage and with 2 meals. I had work that day so I had packed properly the night before and shoved everything in the back of my dad's car. The plan was to go to work, catch the train back to my normal station and then have my dad pick me up and then drive me to the airport from there. Which is the super long way for me since I would be in the city for work anyway.

We arrived at the airport and parked first instead of just doing the drop off because I worry that my dad will wander off or something because he's almost 70 and it's much better if I know where he is. I got changed from work clothes to my plane clothes in the car park toilets. This was November so it was pretty warm in Sydney already and it was cold in Korea. I was worried that I under dressed. I wore boyfriend jeans, singlet, t-shirt, jumper, socks, flats, and was holding my blue coat. I was sweating.

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Having a pre-flight beer by my lonesome.

After getting through immigration and security I had so much time to kill. Or so I thought. I promised to buy a friend cigarettes from duty free. Like a certain brand and type. So I was messaging him and waiting for him to get back to me. I went to the cigarette counter and the guy there was so nice. I showed him the photo that my friend showed me of the cigarettes he wanted and he had cigarettes that were similar but I had to double check and then they were pretty expensive. My friend wasn't counting on that. He had previously bought the same cigarettes in Hong Kong and they were not as expensive as they were here. Then as my friend was messaging me back saying to get whatever brand the guy at the counter recommended over the P.A. came the final boarding call for my flight. I didn't even hear the first boarding call and I thought there was still enough time. So I ran to the gate (and I didn't even know how far it was), which I probably didn't need to do because turns out I wasn't like the last last person, and I was sweating. Sweating in line and sweating as I got into my window seat.

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On ze plane.

By the time I settled into my seat before take off I was like, OMG I am actually on a plane going overseas on my own. It seemed surreal to me because I had wanted to go anywhere overseas, to travel, for a really long time and it was finally here. Somehow I felt accomplished. This is the first time really that I've gone on holiday with my money. Money I earned so, yeah, accomplished, somehow.

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Night view from the plane.

Travelling on AirAsia was pretty good. Their in-flight staff was young and gorgeous. Some really nice good looking guys. Like so cute. I was trying to figure out if I could take a photo of one from my seat but I chickened out. Really good service and just generally approachable and warm. Much better than I expected. Also, how are those female flight attendants still looking so good so early in the morning?

The meals came out pretty quickly. I got the Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak. I couldn't open that little plastic packet. I tried and tried and got frustrated and just gave up, which the guy sitting next to me saw and then opened them for me. Which was nice. The Nasi Lemak was okay. I didn't finish it all. I think probably because I was full from the Oporto, which I also didn't finish.

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I had brought all these books to read on the plane but I did nothing that I brought with me. I listened to my iPod and slept almost all the way to Kuala Lumpur, where I had to transfer planes. I arrived at Kuala Lumpur's Low Cost Carrier Terminal around 3 or 4 in the morning. It's one of those airports where you walk from the plane onto the tarmac to the terminal. LCCT is small but it's clean and it has WiFi. I've heard stories about people struggling to find seating in LCCT but that was not the case with me. Lots of seats, I guess because it was pretty early in the morning. I was there for about 2 hours and I just checked Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and time passed. I think I was just super tired still even though basically all I had done at that point was sleep.

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Back on the plane and still a long way from Korea. I took so many photos of clouds because they're so amazing and beautiful.

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Slept on the plane and had kimchi chicken for lunch.

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And then I landed in Seoul at around 3:30pm!

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To Be Continued!

1.2.14

I took a walk

I love summer and I had a whole bunch of free time and generally the weather in Sydney has been good (read: HOT) except for that week that was just super rainy. What is up with that... That did not make me feel like I wanted to go anywhere. I had a friend visit Sydney back in January. He's been teaching English in South Korea for the past year and he chose to spend his winter vacation (since it's winter over there) back in Sydney. So he wanted to visit all his workplaces, uni and just generally see Sydney. So below are some photos from one of the days we wandered the city!

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Main walkway of UNSW. My first university and how my friend that visited and I met, kinda. We met through a friend of a friend who went to UNSW. That's kinda how I make friends now. Through friends of friends. I don't think I've met a stranger and then we became friends. Well, except at work, I guess?
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The Scientia
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Australian School of Business
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So UNSW, in the time that I have graduated, has gotten all fancy with all these new shops and restaurants. JELLY.
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Get it??? XD

Then we headed down to Central Park near Central Station and opposite the UTS Tower. It's that new residential and shopping complex. It's pretty artsy. It has a lot of creative exhibitions and spaces.
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The reflective pose is supposed to be in the vein of Rodin's The Thinker. Can you tell?
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I loved this space. It had a piano and seats and anyone can play. It was empty when we were there. I could only bust out a fur bars of Fur Elise. Then my friend and I did the Heart and Soul obligatory duet. Need to learn new songs or bring sheet music next time.
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This outside behind the shopping complex. I don't know what it does except spin.
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I think this a UTS building getting a facelift?
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#HIPSTERSANTA. Why did I not know this was a thing?
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Sydney summer, when you have a lot of free time, has the best vibe. It gives me the best feeling. Something about it (probably all that sun and sky) just makes me feel really good about the world. All hopeful and positive! So I'm gonna enjoy this last month of summer. I need to get to a beach!