Planning a trip to Seoul! – Part 2a

Part 2: Navigation – Is this near to that?

Before I downloaded this app, you will see me analysing and scrutinising the subway map every morning before leaving the hotel. Scribbling notes on which subway station to get down at, which line to change to and which exit to get out of.

But since ber introduced this app to me on our April trip to Seoul, things are so much easier!

But first…

Subways in Seoul

If you think our MRT network is complicated and the distance between NEL and EWL is far, you really need to head to Seoul 😛

With that said, the walk between each Line may be long, it’s not boring though. There’s loads of travellators and there are shops. Yes, SHOPS! Shops selling handphone cases, grocery, donuts, sweets and I even found Face Shop in one of the stations in Seoul and Busan!

Yes, all these inside the station. You don’t have to tap out.

To take the subways in Seoul, all you need is the t-money! It works exactly like our ezLink but better! You can use it to take the buses, the subways, the cabs and even use it to puchase stuff! I likey!

t-money is available at all train stations and convenience stores @ approximately 2,500 won. Just look for this big blue machine at the train stations, choose English and follow the steps on the machine.

buy and top up your t-money!

buy and top up your t-money!

The design of the t-money card you buy at this machine is rather standard. Nothing special. For some fancy designs, you can try the convenience stores like G25 and 7-11. You can get t-money handphone accessory! Slightly more expensive though.

hello kitty t-money credits: ttmik

Note: t-money can be used in other states like Busan subways/buses, Gyeongju Buses, Jeju Island Buses, Incheon subways etc.

For the non-frequent Seoul travellers

Instead of getting the t-money, you might want to consider getting the M-Pass Card or the Seoul City Pass (: They are priced between 10,000 won to 59, 500 won.

Personally, I’ve never used the M-Pass Card or the Seoul City Pass before. I think these cards are only available at Incheon airports tourist counter and convenience store.

These passes gives you 20 free rides per day on all subway lines/bus (for M-Pass); limited subway lines (Seoul City Pass). After you have exhausted the 20 free rides for the day, you can top up the cards to continue using it like a normal t-money card.

The validity of the card will depend on how many days you stay in Seoul. You can purchase cards ranging from 1-7 days (M-Pass) and 1-3 days (Seoul City Pass).

Personally, I won’t choose this cos I don’t think I take 20 rides in a day :p Plus, these passes MUST be returned to the sales location or you lose your deposit *yawn*  Hehehe.

For more information about t-money and the passes available, you can click here.

Note: There’s a Seoul City Pass Plus as well. It functions just like t-money, but you can only use it in Seoul. I think that’s what I have now. NOOOOOO! *note to self: buy fancy t-money next trip* I never did refund the card and keep using it on my trips (:

Some other random stuff about the subways

There’s tons of stairs and not much escalators OR lifts in the Seoul subways. I’m serious! This must be why most Koreans have nice legs :p Here’s one flight of stairs that I had to climb everyday to get back to my hotel –

happy climbing.

The app that I am going to explain in detail in my next post will help to minimise the walking and climbing!

Last thing about the Seoul subway (or Korea subway) that I like is…instead of just showing you the ETA of the next train, they show you where the train is at…

one stop away!

And they play a tune when the train is arriving. Quite useful really if say you are at the top of the escalator and you hear the tune. RUN, PEOPLE. RUN! 😛

Alright, I digress. Next post will introduce the amazing app! (: Back in a day or two!

*If you have any suggestions or find that the information I’ve provided is not correct, do let me know! (:

Planning a trip to Seoul! – Part 1

Ever since the encounter at KTO, I’ve been planning to start a series of blogposts on planning a trip to Korea. Never got round to it cos of all the drama but HERE I AM! (: Will focus mainly on Seoul, and talk about Busan/Gyeongju after this series.

Part 1: Starting to plan for your trip 

No matter how many times I have been to Korea, the first thing I do before I start planning my trip is to head down to KTO and grab a copy of their guide book. Of course, you can also view the e-copy here.

They have recently updated their guidebook (as the Vist Korea campaign was over) and I guess, personally, I much prefer the old version that covers more areas outside of Seoul. But anyways! The new guidebook is still good for Seoul (:

the refreshed KTO guide. (source: sadokobear.wordpress.com)

the refreshed KTO guide.
(source: sadokobear.wordpress.com)

The book is organised into Areas (Seoul, Seoul Vicinity, Eastern/Central/Southeaster/Southwestern Area, Jeju Island) and then into the type of attractions grouped into, “Themed Tours”. Here’s a snapshot of the content page –

Contents page(:

Contents page(:

With the guidebook in hand….

What I will do is to flip through the guidebook quickly, take note of the places that I may be interested in and then…I head to KTO website to read up more about them.

Now, you may ask…What’s the difference between the guidebook and the KTO website?

The new guidebook is more condensed. There’s not alot of information there except for a brief write-up and the station where you should alight. But the KTO website on the other hand, contains – a) more detailed write up of the place, b) the opening hours, c) the Exit that you should go, d) pricing information  and e) time of the guided tours.

Here’s a comparison of the information provided in the guidebook –

Information in the Guidebook for Gyeongbok Palace

Information in the Guidebook for Gyeongbok Palace

Part of the information on the website for Gyeongbok Palace

Part of the information on the website for Gyeongbok Palace

Alternatively, search the places in an app!

You can also download “Visit Korea” application (: It’s basically a guidebook, grouped according to categories like Shopping, Culture and Accommodation. Those are further grouped into the different ‘dong’ in the area. Really good (: Almost as good as the old guidebook I was talking about!

It provides almost the same information as the website (: Definitely more than the current guidebook.

Visit Korea 2.0

Visit Korea 2.0

When everything is done….

When you have shortlisted most of the places you want to visit, you can either start arranging your itineraries. Well, kinda (see below for explanation) You can probably do 3-4 places in a day if you are the GO!GO!GO! tourists. But if you are like me, who likes to spend a bit of time at each area, stop to read every single sign board, then 1-2 is the max.

So I just used the guidebook for shortlisting stuff?

Well, technically, yes. But after you have shortlisted the places that you want to go, you can go back to the guidebook and see what other interesting places are around you!

what's around Gwanghuamun

what’s around Gwanghuamun Gate

 

There you have it!

Now that you have the list of places that you want to go, the next step is to see which station is near which. Now, in the guidebook (and on Google), you will find the Seoul subway map. Confusing yes?

Stay tuned for I have a solution for you! (:

And I just discovered this awesome app that gives you a guided tour! Psyched!! More soon!

never thought that it will be this hard.

I’m leaving my current job and I never thought that it will be this hard.

When I was still in NTU, I like to look out of my room window when I am stress and stare at the CBD area. Those silhouette of the CBD buildings. And I will tell myself,

“Huishan, this is all going to be worth it. Someday, you will work in one of those buildings there, be happy and earn your own keeps, support the family.

And true enough, I found myself starting work there 3 years ago.

There, I found more than just a job. I found a family. A second home.

In my 2nd week, I met my CEO. I was allowed to sit in on an important presentation. I met all the senior management. I met a bunch of people who seems to know each other and who seems to know me even though I was a newbie. I remember someone once said,

“You can’t walk into the lift without bumping into someone you know or at least recognise by face.

That cannot be more true.

I’ve seen some of my own ideas coming alive. I have met some really incredible people. From the branches, from other units and most importantly, my team and my CEO.  I saw how the people here are not just colleagues, they are friends too. At some point, I thought to myself,

“Huishan. This place is awesome! You finally found a place that you belong. You can stay here forever.”

But I guess, we should never say such things as it jinxes it. Because now, I’m leaving.

Shan’t go into details about why I’m leaving. But it was a series of events, of miscommunication, of mismatched expectations and perhaps, a little bit of social issues (my Achilles’ heels). Several options were discussed, tried and it was with a very very heavy hard and a very very trembling hand that I tendered.

I know what I am leaving. I am leaving an awesome place. A place where there’s great leadership. Where the bosses walk the walk and talk the talk. Where people help each other and are so jolly all the time.

After I wrote the letter to my CEO, after I told Amy and after the news was announced to the team, I thought the hardest part was over. The team was quiet on the issue. Shocked but quiet.

I was wrong.

As news starts to seep (I hate to use the word – spread), I have been receiving calls and emails. From people that I’ve been working closely with. And from people that I have only met once or twice. All or most of them were persuading me to stay and even thinking of ways to help me. And they are saying such nice stuff about me! Everytime I hang up the phone, I go through an internal struggle.

While I am still functioning right now and my work quality is unaffected, a break is really what I need. I need to recalibrate. I wanted to take a tiny break after helping the team’s peak but for some circumstances, we couldn’t reach an agreement on that 😦

You may ask, “A break? How would that help anything?” Well, I was on MC for 2 days due to tummy upset and when I went back, my mood was different. I felt stronger. That’s why I know that a break will definitely help. I guess it’s a Gen-Y thing.

Sigh.

I’m sorry if I’ve let you guys down. I know how lucky I am to have found the Bank. To be even in the Bank. I truly truly do and am truly truly grateful. No. This is not some insincere speech. I do mean it. With every bit of my heart.

I was just telling my mum that when I leave the office every day, I will look back and tell myself, “A few more days and no more. What have you done?”

So thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thank you for the opportunities. Thank you for everything.

I’m looking forward to my last day because it means I can rest, spend some time volunteering and find myself again.

But I am dreading the last day because I know I am walking away from a wonderful place. A place that cannot be found elsewhere.

C’est la vie.