Sunday, June 5, 2011

[SEOUL] Looks like an Airport, Feels like a Mall


With close to three million inhabitants, Incheon is the third most populous city in South Korea after Seoul and Busan. Once a part of the province of Gyeonggi, it is now a self-governing city and serves as the gateway to the country because the primary international airport is located there. Going to Seoul won’t take an hour since the two cities are just next to each other and their subway systems are linked.


We arrived around 15 - 20 minutes late in Incheon. It was all trains after that. After crossing the door with the flat screen TV welcoming you to Korea (with matching Korean and Philippine flags) you walk, go down the escalator, then another escalator. Walk, turn left, and you'll reach immigration. I was ushered to the “Korean Passports” section. Maybe he thought I had a Korean passport or something? No. It’s just that there weren’t too many arrivals during that time and the other immigration officers looked bored.

The Korean immigration officer just looked at me, then at my passport, then at her desktop. Stamped! No greetings. No interrogations. Just pure indifference. The weird thing is I don’t remember having crossed any X-Ray machines on my way out. I passed by the “Nothing to declare” section next to the baggage carousels. I exchanged USD 100 at the first money changer I saw at the exit after the Nothing to Declare section. She changed my USD 100 to KRW 103,600. Was I ripped off? Well I had no choice. I hadn’t a single won in my pocket.


I checked Spa on Air at the basement to see if there are free private capsules for the night. There were none. The lady told me though that I could sleep in the public areas, which is perfectly normal in spas and bathhouses in the country. I declined. I looked for the airport rail and hopped aboard an AREX train to Seoul. Nice train. The seats had blue foam and the train speaks. The MRT at EDSA also speaks, but this AREX is multilingual. It gives advice in Korean, English, Japanese, and Mandarin each time you approach the next station. There’s also an electronic marquee announcing the same in the languages mentioned. Rail maps are all over the train and there is an electronic one with red and green lights showing all the stops completed and the others yet to be reached. Again, it is very tourist-friendly. I arrived at Seoul station after 53 minutes.

4 creature(s) gave a damn:

Anonymous said...

Good job for documenting your Seoul Itinerary down to the last centavo :p

ihcahieh said...

Thanks. I'm OC like that, hehe. =)

Anonymous said...

I think Incheon International is the airport that is always awarded as the best airport in the world? I believe it's at par with Singapore Changi and Hong Kong International. :)

It would be great if the Manila would emulate what Seoul did with their airport, I mean, moving it far from the city. Jakarta's and Beijing's airports are far from the city as well. It's just weird that NAIA is right smack in the middle of Metro Manila. Convenient, yes. But now it has trouble expanding. Hmmm, Clark? It would be a bit inconvenient for those in the southern part of Metro Manila though.

ihcahieh said...

Yup, one of the best in the world. I don't know about NAIA, it's a bit depressing. I overheard two Pinoys chatting while in queue at Incheon for check-in and one of them was saying that our airport is among the few that still charge terminal fee. Hindi ka pa nakakalabas ng bansa 2k+ na agad ang gastos e, sakit sa bulsa.

I think they are planning to extend the MRT to reach Clark, hahaha. Or maybe I heard it wrong.

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