Korea Trip 2010, Part 3: From Seoul to Busan

9.07.2010

Continued from Part 2: Excel Hotel Tokyu
Or start from the beginning, Part 1: Flying to Tokyo

After a 3 hour flight from Narita Intl Airport in Tokyo, we arrived at the Incheon Intl Airport in Seoul.  If you are flying into Seoul, Korea 99% of the time you will probably fly into Incheon Airport since it is Korea's biggest airport.  I believe that Incheon has won a few awards for being a nice airport and I have to agree, it's pretty big, clean and modern.  

My immediate impression at Incheon was that everyone was in a bloody freaking RUSH.  Omg, I thought there was a fire or something. After getting off the plane, we got on one of the shuttles (like an indoor metro) that takes you from concourse to concourse.  At baggage claim people just RAN out of the shuttle - it was insane xD!  After we collected our luggage, we headed to the huge bus bays to catch a "limousine shuttle" to the heart of Seoul, where my uncle lives.  The limo-bus is pretty much Korea's name for Greyhound style buses with room under the bus to store luggage and super nice seating inside.  These buses go from the airport to all over Seoul with regular stops that go everyday - very convenient!

I'm pretty familiar with domestic flights (and airports) in the US since I've flown a lot but one thing that popped out at me was the amazing transportation system set up. Right from the second we stepped off the plane and got to the bus bay, there were literally...well at least 30-50 buses - NICE buses with A/C and all the trimmings - constantly coming in going to all corners of Seoul.  I have not seen anything like it in America; you're pretty much stuck renting a car or calling a taxi here but damn, seeing the convenience of it with own eyes was something else.  One downside was that since there were TONS of people, we did have to wait about half an hour to 45 min for the right shuttle.  Every shuttle has a designated spot with the scheduled stops & times listed.  We bought a ticket at the booth (you use the same ticket for all the buses) and waited.  Bus drivers count how many people get on the bus so that everyone has a seat and nobody has to stand. I guess the philosophy is that once you've gotten off the plane you'll be tired ^_^  The bus we got on was quite nice and after rather long ass ride (to me it felt like at least 1-2 hours) we got off right in front of the Seoul Shinsaegae.

Shinsaegae basically means "mall" in Korean, except it's a chain brand, like Lotte malls for example.  Shisaegae malls, since they are a franchise, are quite similar mall to mall (I think). I've visited the Busan and Seoul Shinsaegaes and they were pretty much the same.  All have similar setups, shops and brands.  Inside on the main floor you'll find brands like Coach, Burberry, Christian Dior, Anne Sui - pretty much most upscale clothing and make up brands you'd want to see.  Upper floors have Korean brands, household items, jewelry etc and the basement level has a grocery store and awesome places to eat :D The top floor is usually individual restaurants.   I didn't take half enough pictures of Shinsaegae -- it really is an amazing place to just browse.  And they are just HUGE, 6-7 floors and the Busan branch had a movie theater and ice skating rink too.

Anyway, we had to go to Busan, the second largest city in Korea, right away so we went over the Seoul Railway Station.  To travel between cities in Korea one usually takes something called the KTX, it basically looks like a metro line.  I think it's....a 5 hour trip from Seoul to Busan and tickets were ~$35-50USD depending on the time.


One of the most ubiquitous sights you'll see in Korea (especially at bus/train stations) are soldiers ehhehe!  These are guys we are usually in the midst of doing their mandatory 2 year enlistment period and visiting friends and family on their days off.  All men are required to serve 2 years, usually either before they start college or right afterwards.  If you have health problems you're usually exempt but most guys (no matter how busy or famous), has to serve eventually.  Anyone into k-pop/dramas will probably notice that male actors and singers go MIA for 2 years for this very reason :D

Yeahhh, work that diva pose ^_^! You can see the ticket counter behind them.

While waiting for the KTX to arrive, I bought a cup of ice cream at Baskin & Robbins.  Can I say - AMAZINGGGGG! Omg, the B&Rs in Korea have such unusual and delicious flavors!!!  Instead of the boring chocolate/nut/vanilla varieties, there were weird things with the candy that pops in your mouth, fro-yo style with real fruit mixed in Coldstone style....


I had the Blueberry one on the far left, it was delicious!  They mixed in real blueberries, white chocolate bits and this really delicious sugar cracker/cookie type of thing...I dunno what it was exactly but it was good. I also tried a little cup of ...I forgot the name...but it was delicately minty with little crunchy sugar/toffee bits and dark chocolate chips?  SO good.


The ice cream cakes were also just gorgeous....

Left cake on the 2nd row, the big puffy stars on top are edible; they're pieces of molded ice cream!

In the station they also had this cool little model of Seoul.

Far in the back: the classic Korean halmoni (granny) with their short perms :)

After an hour or so we hopped onto the KTX for the long ride to Busan~!

Korea Trip 2010, Part 4: Taking the KTX to Busan

3 comments :

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