Thursday, November 29, 2012

Asian Eyes' Korea - To Incheon

             This is the story of my travel to South Korea, also known as 'the Land of Morning Calm', on a tour package with my family. I would like to say that of all the package tours to numerous locations I had joined to date, this is by far the best package tour. It was full of lessons learnt from a learned Korean tourist guide. We also had good dose of first-hand experience on food, ginseng and kimchi, on Hangul language and its writing, on oriental beauty, on K-pop culture, on Psy and Gangnam Style, on Korean Hallyu drama, on man-made and nature attractions which are picturesquely beautiful, on theme parks and on lots and lots of museums of all kinds. We had a very enjoyable and relaxing holiday and everyone came back very happy.
             Day 1 - Nov/17/12, 4.00 am: The day started very early. Our 8-days package tour to South Korea that we had booked the tour through Super Tour and Travels co had officially started. We arrived at Penang International Airport at 5.30 am as requested by the tour company. Our tour lead, Jeff Lee, greeted us and helped us to check in our luggages and  flight. There were a total of 16 person in our group and luckily everyone was on time. No elderly person, and only Little M and another boy, Kit, are the youngsters in our group. After a slight delay, we were on the air towards Hong Kong. Hong Kong International Airport is such an efficient airport despite its sheer size and the volume that it handles. Normally walking around Hong Kong International Airport is a joy because there will always be small scale exhibitions or displays in between gates. This time the exhibits were Chinese Opera costumes.
           Our plane landed in Incheon International Airport safely and on time. South Korea time was 1 hour ahead and it was already dark as I peered through the window. Jeff led the way with his flag held up high and we just followed his lead as we exited the aeroplane. We took some time to clear immigration as there were 4 planes that landed simultaneously. After immigration, it was smoother flow where we retrieved our bags and cleared custom. Our Korean tour guide, Kent Fang, was already waiting for us. After a brief introduction, he lead us to our bus to take us to our hotel in Seoul. The bus was a 42-seater bus for 16 plus 2 of us, so we have ample seats to sit comfortably. The journey to our hotel was about 1.5 hours on a highway parallel to the mighty Han River. In the bus, Kent briefed us on the itinerary for tomorrow. The hotel is a 2 star hotel and after we were assigned our rooms, we quickly retired to our room to freshen up and sleep. We looked forward to an exciting day ahead.     
           I took a lot of pictures and here are some from day 1:  

I always take picture of my check in bag in case it got lost in transit. This is to save time  in describing my bag or to remind me in case sometime I forgot how it looks like.

Everyone in family were all glee and smiles at Penang International Airport after the check in, eager to start the journey to South Korea. 

Little M enjoying his scrambled eggs with sausage breakfast, despite a McDonald breakfast earlier on, while watching his in-flight video show.

PrettyCathy Pacific Airline stewardess attended attentively to us.
Big M, Middle M and Little M posing outside branded stores in Hong Kong International Airport - Gucci, Rolex, Coach, Hermes, etc.

Browsing in a book store while waiting for our next flight in Hong Kong. Little M locked his attention on a Guinness Book of Record 2013 book.

Gate 23 at Hong Kong International Airport where we were to board our Cathay Pacific flight to Incheon International Airport. 1 hour to go before flying.
A Chinese opera costume in display that caught my attention. It had a full regalia attire - dress, headgear, shoes and belt in display, plus video of Chinese Opera show at Hong Kong International Airport.
Another display - this one usually worn by actor playing the role of Chinese emperor, completes with its dragon motive
Little M charged up his iPad while waiting for boarding, as well as update his status in his Facebook account
Our 777 Cathay Pacific plane waiting at the runway, ready to swallow us and deposit us in South Korea in about 3 hours time.
My seat video screen showed our plane approaching Incheon International Airport after 3 hours in the air from Hong Kong.
Incheon's skyline was already dark as we ascending into Incheon International Airport as seen through my plane's window.

"Welcome to Korea" signboard was the first sign that greeted us as we exited from the plane.
Jeff Lee, our tour lead from Super Tour and Travel Co., led the way to immigration counter, with his company flag held high.
A Korean couple waiting for train that runs between Terminal 2 and Terminal 1. We boarded the train to Terminal 2 to clear immigration and to retrieve our bags.
Queuing up at immigration counter for entry into Korea which was quite crowded as 4 planes landed at the same time.
After clearing immigration and custom, we were greeted by the first sight of Christmas - red and green floral theme as decorative around Incheon International Airport
Another floral decoration in Incheon International Airport - Orchids. Don't get fooled. It's beautiful from a far, but once near, it is fake flower!

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