Monday, March 18, 2013

South Korea Day 1: Hello Seoul!

We've decided to attempt a regularly updated trip report to avoid the 'procrastination' monster. It's a chance for our families to keep in touch with us too while we are away. So here it goes!

From the looks of it, we're off to a great start!

Our flight to Incheon was going to be and overnighter to allow daddy to tie up things at work on a Friday evening. We arrived at Changi's Terminal 2 nice and early before the check-in counters opened, and opted for dinner at one of our family favourites.

Fanciful kids meal boxes at Swensen's get the blood pumping!

We proceeded to the Korean Airlines counters at Row 3 right after eating a small meal. It was impressive how the ground staff had stationed assistants to guide the incoming passengers into the queue and off to the check-in counters. Their smiles and service was warm and welcoming, but then for a family more used to budget carriers than international airlines, it was not difficult to impress us. (Korean Air was having a sale when we bought the tickets so it was a good $800 cheaper than other international airlines)

The check-in was quick and smooth. Once again, we were proud to be travelling light, with one large and one smaller suitcases (plus a small empty suitcase we intended to fill with goodies for our flight back of course!)

We wasted no time and plunged into the transit areas. It was the perfect opportunity for mommy to squeeze in some last minute duty free shopping / window shopping and for the kids to have a go at the playground at the kids area. About half an hour before our flight, we bundled the kids off to the toilets to have their teeth brushed, change out into their sleeping clothes (which included some layering in preparation for the cold night on the plane), empty their digestive systems, and get ready for bed.

One of the objectives on the flight was to get as much sleep as possible as daddy was running the Donga Seoul International Marathon on Sunday and how much 'fun' we could have on Saturday was determined by how much sleep we could get on Friday night. Unfortunately, things did not go as smoothly as planned, and we did not get much shut eye during the 5 hour 45 minute flight. Still, we tried to appreciate the perks of being on an international carrier, such as the in-flight entertainment, wonderful service, and of course, food:

Left to right: Kid's Meal; Adult's Seafood Pasta; Adult's Bibimbap; Kid's Meal (Hotdog)

Mommy enjoyed the Bibimbap very much and daddy had to enjoy almost everything else as the kids weren't in the mood to eat much a couple of hours past their bed time. It was rare to see them turn down their well-liked packets of Milo, but I guess special circumstances made it necessary for us to be flexible. At least less consumption while travelling usually guarantees less output while travelling too, which might not be a bad thing.

Keeping ourselves (and mommy) busy... very busy... too busy!

The remainder of the flight saw sporadic naps, in-flight documentaries, in-flight magazines, occassional tantrums, toilet breaks, just to name a few. Mommy did much to ensure daddy got as much sleep as possible to help with the marathon prep. Needless to say, it'll be his turn on the way home (giggles).

The announcement for landing was music to our ears. We were ahead of schedule and the instructions were to wait our turn on the taxi way a few minutes after landing, but as soon as we were in the terminal, immigration, baggage collection, and the toilet break before the hour plus long bus ride to our apartment went quite smoothly.

A 4.45 am landing after a long night begins to show on the faces of the children.

We thought we were prepared. This trip was packed for and thought through well in advance (thanks to the mommy) but nothing prepared us for the cold which we took some time to adapt to! K turned blue rather quickly so we had to wait inside the terminal while Mummy bought the tickets and checked out the bus schedule.

We caught Bus number 6011 which arrived at 6.58am. The buses here operature on a very punctual schedule and it do not wait long before moving off. Hence, we headed out and started lining up since 6.55am.

On the bus, we caught a quick nap and enjoyed the Incheon landscape. We alighted at Geongbokgung Station and lugged the luggage and two tired children a few hundred metres (which felt a lot longer) to Byucksan kwang wha mun see dae officetel, a snug self contained apartment (with washing machine and dryer and a convenient store on the first floor. Very useful especially since it was so cold outside) which mommy found online. ( We stayed at Sui's Loft House 2. A very nice lady who is very prompt in all her replies of enquiries)

We quickly unpacked. Daddy went out for his light 'shake out' run in the 2 degrees celcius morning (and came back with a red nose) while mommy unpacked. The plan for the day was tight, involving buying of snacks, collecting the marathon race pack and bib, buying the return KTX tickets for our visit to Busan, and a last minute visit to old friends, a big family with whom Mommy stayed with the first time she was here 3 years ago.

We decided to split separate ways to do the first two items on the list and link up at Seoul Station's Lotte Mart at 11 am to pick up groceries and grab lunch, before heading back to the apartment to rest. After a short nap, we left to visit our friends.

Lotte Mart groceries and lunch!

Stopping by the muffin shop at Geongbokgong Station to admire the arty treats and pick up some for snacks later!

During the train rides, I found the local people very gracious, and more often than once in a day did seated passengers get up to offer their seats to our children or to other more elderly passengers.

After a wonderful time catching up with the family around the table sipping what seemed to be freshly brewed almond nut tea with milk, we headed back to the apartment where we found on the ground floor a tiny rustic eatery tucked away in a small corner of the apartment building. It had a fantastic vintage feel with old school deco such as timber counter tops, wooden tables and chairs, a blaring TV in the corner and a cosy feel. We ordered a hot pot dish with rice cakes, noodles and vegetables, and added a few bowls of red bean rice, which the kids wolfed down with seaweed from the side dishes. Side dishes and water are free so do feel free to ask for top-ups when you are done.

After some preparations for daddy's big race tomorrow, we settled into an early night.

All set and ready to go!


  1. Hi just to check with you, are you able to provide me the email for Sui's loft? cause i cant seem to find her in airbnb

    1. Hi

      I don't have her email as I contacted her via airbnb. Looked through my trip history and found her link.
      hopefully you can contact her through the link.


  2. Hello. Mine to share your intinerary with me?
    I'm planning to go with my 2 boys age 3 and 1.5 to korea too!.


    My email address is

  3. Hi, I m planning to bring my then 7yr old girl to her 1st winter trip this dec. can you share with me yr itinerary & any special tips too? Tks!

  4. Sorry my email is

  5. Hi, I'm planning a trip to Seoul in Winter this year, can you share your itinerary. many thanks .

  6. Hi, I 'm planning a trip to Seoul in winter. Can share your itinerary. Thanks.

  7. Hi, I 'm planning a trip to Seoul in winter December. Can share your itinerary. Thanks.

  8. Hi all. Our itinerary for winter can be found in our series of posts entitled 'Korea in Winter'. There are 13 entries in this series from 8 to 28 December 2015. You can try entering keywords 'Korea in Winter' int the blog search box. Enjoy reading and all the best for your trips!

  9. Hi, thanks for your blog. Can I find out which dates last year you spent in Alpensia Ski resort? Because your posts showed only last day when there was snowfall. May I know the date? Was it mid december? thank you so much

    1. Hi. We arrived at Alpensia on 15 December and left on 20 December. The winter was unusually late that year.

  10. Thank you very much for sharing information that will be much helpful for making coursework my effective.