Worst Travel Moment in Korea

There's this saying that when it rains, it pours. Well, I'm sitting a bit edgy on the plane because I happen to be going back to Seoul (Incheon Airport) today. My latest first day last July in South Korea didn't go so well and I just remembered all the horror that happened in just one day with the theme of PTB's (Pinoy Travel Bloggers group) carnival this month! Haha. I was tired, drenched, hungry and everything that could go wrong just did! I'd been preparing remedies/solutions/must-do's for the past few days just in case. I'm just saying that this can happen to you (and me again) so it's probably best to write this entry now. I think that as I increase the frequency to go back again and again to the places I love (repeat travel), the more I will encounter both good and bad travel moments in that particular place. As we put ourselves out there to go somewhere or try something new, we are bound to have these moments of unrest and uncertainty - making us remember the best actions to take for the next time we return :)

Korea view from above - plane

I didn't get much sleep that night (only about 2 hours). I was carrying a month's worth of clothes and stuff (and I'm so bad at packing light) so I was anticipating a very tiring day. The long wait at the airport was expected and I couldn't focus on work due to my zombie state. When I arrived at Incheon, I took the bus / airport limousine from Incheon Airport to my new homestay location near a less touristy station. I didn't get to the bus that quick from the baggage area and so, I had to wait for the final bus of the night. It started raining so hard while I was on the bus and the traffic was horrendous. I was comfortable in my seat but then I started noticing that the some stops didn't have roofing and my umbrella was in the luggage (at the baggage compartment of the bus) due to carry on restrictions. - Lesson 1: Now, I will remember to put my umbrella near the zipper and transfer my umbrella in my bag before I ride the bus / train. Naturally, I got drenched because I couldn't get to my luggage. Also, try to look for more well known locations for homestay and sleep early.

Confident that I got the adress on hand, I hailed a taxi so that he could help me find it, not walk in the rain and protect my luggage. I got one but he seemed to be angry that I had a big heavy luggage to put to the trunk. In my haste, my very important necklace got caught in my sudden movements and broke right then and there. I had to struggle to look calm in the taxi while looking for the pendant and trying to convince him to just drive me to the place since I was willing to pay. I showed him the address (still distracted but managed to find  the pendant) and he motioned that it was near (a few blocks straight) and I don't have to ride a taxi. He dropped me off a corner telling me to just ask around. I don't think he even used the GPS and I believed he charged my T money twice. I was hurriedly cast off into the rain - lost and nobody was around. Lesson 2: Research and print a map before the trip and stay away from serious looking taxi drivers. Print the Korean address, host name and phone number. I actually did research but not enough. The map I printed was off by a block.. He could have called the phone number for me...

I was about to call the host but lo and behold, my Blackberry did not work in Korea even if Globe walked me through all the process before I left so I had no service on the phone. I had another iPhone that I use for internet browsing but I couldn't transfer sim cards because I didn't have a needle/sharp pin for the iPhone O_O I had no internet and no service to contact anybody because I decided (while at the airport) to not rent an internet phone. My messenger messages also didn't load. Lesson 3: Bring Swiss Card and transfer it to the handcarry when I arrive like the umbrella. Don't bring Blackberry, only iPhone and Samsung. Write down the phone numbers of your other contacts in Korea. Rent a phone with internet at the Incheon airport (you can only rent it there) if budget permits. Bring a travel adaptor too in the handcarry with the Korean 2-pin and multi-way outlets. We had a hard time finding the adaptor in Busan - the reason being this is their country so almost all gadgets already have those pins so they don't need it. They need to convert from the 2-pin to ours so there are plenty of our adaptors there and not theirs.

I went in a convenient store nearby and even they couldn't tell me where the place was. I met a helpful stranger on the street and he couldn't locate it online as well. I was desperate, cold and wet but even he couldn't help me. I walked one more block in the rain and eventually saw the entrance to the building. Good thing the guard wasn't looking and didn't question me. I managed to get into the elevator somehow. I found out that my host didn't speak good English right then :( Everybody I met couldn't speak English and it was understandable (but a bit frustrating) because I stayed in a residential area. Lesson 4: It's time to learn Hangeul. In the long run, being able to communicate with people can get you to places.

I had to have some sort of normalcy after my ordeal so I tried to be comfortable in the home. I had my own room. But the shared bathroom though had no lock... I tried to explain it but she said it was okay (maybe for her but there was another guest and her husband asleep in the house..). I got by using sign language and her little English. I wanted to reach out to J in Manila but here it was, the last straw was no internet password for that night and she's not the one who set it up (already asleep). I'd finally had enough and just went for the hot shower and sleep. Lesson 5: Just let it all go even if you nearly cried or want to for such a horrible experience. Whatever it is, sleep and wake up to a new day. Unfortunately, they all get up at around 6:30am for breakfast and I also had too so..

Major Lesson: Take an earlier flight to Korea if available. Those that arrive in the morning or afternoon. If you're taking the airport limousine on weekend nights, the schedule changes and there might only be limited night buses available. The last trains in the metro are at around 11 pm plus so those are considerations too.

Anyway, this trumps them all in terns of international travel. I don't like unfortunate situations happening like these at night and in the rain when everybody just wants to sleep. As for local trips, it's still that whole Caramoan trip and first night of my local solo trip in Iloilo..

I think I'm on a roll here now that that's out. So goes some more of them in a gist. Hehe. 
- Being tummy sick in Japan - not sure if it was the food or hot springs
- Airplane - Having someone's water spill in the overhead bin, Pesky children that kick my seat
- Losing something important in Busan - My super cool ID card holder and my first ever Seoul city pass 3 years after...
- Getting my new luggage in Hong Kong (at the start of my trip) and it came out smelling like danggit or patis and the strong smell is still there until now O_O
- Almost losing my bag at a Thai or Indonesia airport because of long immigration lines - They took it out of the carousel and just put it in a corner..
- Being talked to by creepy or drunk ajiusi's in the Korea metro at night - There's also this one time in a restaurant when an old guy just kept on talking non-stop to himself in Korean.. And Korean restaurants refusing a solo diner like me or asking me to order for 2 people (these last 2 are just the worst and it happens all the time, very sad phenomenon in Seoul and Busan).
- Almost missed a plane only once in Boracay

Sometimes, it's these worst moments that are too memorable (or might make a good story). And now I can just relax and laugh about them. Haha. When I think about it, it's not as bad like others where they got deportedaccused as being mules, boarded the wrong plane or got off the wrong airport.. Right? What's important is that we never let a day break our entire future ahead of us - that we keep on travelling, learning from them and doing what we love. Don't go looking for trouble though ;)


Worst Travel Moment in Seoul, South Korea


This is my seventh contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog CarnivalJona (of Backpacking with a Book) is currently compiling other Pinoy bloggers' worst travel moments this month.

My first ever contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was a 3D2N and 4D3N itinerary to El Nido, Palawan. Click here for other 3D2N Suggestions for destinations all over the Philippines.

My second contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was an 11D10N itinerary to Seoul, Korea under the compilation of Leap of Faith: When Traveling Changed My Life stories from Travel Bloggers all over the Philippines

My third contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was a dream itinerary to Barcelona and my pledge to turn it into reality. Click here for other ultimate dream destinations and travel wish lists from other Pinoy travel bloggers.

My fourth contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was about a walking tour of Intramuros, compiled under Philippine walking tours.

My fifth contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was about graduations, our educational background and learnings as Pinoy travel bloggers, compiled under this You Never Stop Learning post.

My sixth contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was about my trip to GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan, compiled under Luzon Lovapalooza: For the Love of Luzon

Click here to know more about the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival and the past Blog Carnival topics and link compilation: http://langyaw.com/pinoy-travel-bloggerss-blog-carnival/