A Travellerspoint blog

Daejeon - Day 2

sunny 24 °C

Tuesday 25 Sept

Had an interesting breakfast of ham, spiced sausage, scrambled eggs and fried rice. That's not too strange but it was all the salad items that you could choose from, the steamed rice and about 3 hot dishes containing foods that did not have labels on so we weren't game to try.

Google is a wonderful tool to use when away. Google maps lay our path from the hotel to the bus stop, told us which bus we needed to catch to Gubongsan (our destination today) what time it left and returned. There were several buses that could take you to Gubongsan but some required changing buses and that seemed to hard so I just followed the 216 that went directly there and get several return times depending on how long we were gone for the day.

Google a few useful phrases and we headed off, walked down the street, looked at each other blankly and returned to the hotel to ask reception which direction we needed to go. Brought up the google map and she put on us the right path. A few streets later and there was bus 216 sitting at at stop. We hurried up to the door, 'Shillayhamnida, dul chapyo Gubongsan' (excuse me, two tickets Gubongsan) , the driver muttered something to an old bloke sitting on the bus and then both were saying 'ye, ye' and the driver waved us on. Chris took out a 10,000 won and the driver shook his head and waved frantically 'na na'. Chris fumbled looking for something smaller and I grabbed a handful of coins which he started counting out until Chris found two 1000 won notes. He took them and four 100 won coins and gave them to Chris to put in the box. Much like Australian buses with the touch on and off system but if you pay by cash the driver takes it and will give you change. Here you need the right change as the driver is only the to drive. We were lucky that our first public bus ride was on an older bus where the driver is not enclosed and we were able to talk with him and that we were at the beginning of the run so he had the time and patience and no other fares.

On our way, we pulled out the map and tried matching up the Korean names on the bus stop chart on the glass beside us with the ones on our map. Problem with an English map is that it's in English. Decided next time we get two, one in English and one in Korean then when you ask someone for help they can read and direct on their map and we can match it up on ours. They just give blank looks when presented with the English one, turning it around, trying to match up things they know and end up looking as stupid as we do.

Anyway, the bus stops at the lights and the driver dashes down to us and points to the stations on the glass, 'Hana, dul, se, ne, daseot, yeoset ...' He counts up to 10 then keeps pointing at several more stations and keeps his finger on the 11th one, and tapes away with his finger and talks rapidly in Korean but we got the idea that that was our stop. Interesting he stopped counting at ten, as that is as high as I can count in Korean too! As the stop came close, he called us to the front of the bus and pointed to what looked like the entrance to something we assumed was the park and we got off at the next stop.

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We walked back to the entrance and it read something about a school? We walked up the path and eventually it separated and one did go to a school and the other up into bush land. Several walkers walked past us so we gather this was our destination. Still not sure even now if we did get to Gubongsan, a mountain which the Korean tourist bureau recommended to seeing the autumn colours but we had one huge walk.

It was fairly steep with lots of exercise equipment dotted throughout being well used by the locals on their exercise routine. We noticed that all the walkers were coming from the other direction and as before they tend to give you a fleeting look and continue on their way. One man gave us a cheery hello so we assumed he must have travelled a bit and was used to foreigners. We got to the top and the view was of a huge city of buildings, crazy big. We had a break in the gazebo structure before heading down the other side. Mmmmm, now we know why no one was walking this way. So steep. Slow progress down with the trees being used as poles for balance and to stops us sliding down on our butts.

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It was not what we expected at the end. Straight out onto a river bank, a city across on the other side and what looked like the backyard belonging to some hoarder. If the view was disappointing, the toilets were not. Clean, clean, clean, with music playing, automatic tap and heated dryer. We wandered a bit like lost lambs wondering where we were and what to do but there was no choice. Back we went up and over the mountain again. Definitely easier to go up the steep bit than down. Did I say easier? Ha, what a climb our knees and thighs complaining and my face like a beetroot. Having fun yet. Think we would have passed out in the gazebo if others weren't up there, so we put on a brave face. Thank goodness we had taken plenty of water. Food would have been nice but then we weren't expecting to do the walk twice.

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The rest of the journey was easy. We knew what we were doing now. Got back to the bus stop and crossed the road for the return journey, the bus arrival was counted down on the electronic sign, we had the correct money and we walked on board deposited the money in the box and sat down. The bus was pretty full so we felt pretty good, no dumb foreigners here. Even went for a late lunch (3pm) in the food hall we had dinner in last night. We knew how this rolled to. Ordered food, via pictures, at the counter and got our number. Wash our hands at the wash station in the middle of the food hall, opened the little fridge and took out two metal cups and helped ourselves to cold water and deposited the cups back in the holding tubes waiting for collects to be washed. I went off to get a smoothie leaving Chris to wait for the number for our lunch to flash on the screen. I returned to a very puzzled looking Chris with two fried rice meals decorated with mussels, squid ring and prawns. Pretty sure we had ordered pork.

Not sure what went wrong but we ate up politely and Chris ate my prawns for me. What a trooper. It was very nice and exceedingly spicy hot. One smoothie was not enough and I had to take off for another.

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We returned to our room about 4pm hanging out for a shower and spent the late afternoon sampling 3 varieties of Korean beer, Cass, Hite, Max. Quite surprising I can type this at all really.

There weren't any autumn colours either, too early :(

Posted by tojoken 04:16 Archived in South Korea Comments (2)

Korea - Incheon Airport and Daejeon

Monday 24th Sept

Our eyes were on stalks by the time we boarded our flight from Bangkok to Incheon Airport. Once we were in the air, everyone was reclining their seats into a bed and going to sleep. Chris managed 4 hours pretty solid sleep behind his eye mask, I dropped off and on as the plane had a fair bit of rocking turbulence which was just enough to keep me unsettled. Surprisingly it didn't really bother me in a worrying way as I was too tired to care - it was just waking me up.

An hour and a half from landing, the crew served breakfast and we were both starving but something about eating when you are not really awake doesn't make for good digestion. That and they had only handed on half a dozen breakfast when the crew had to sit down due to turbulence. Both Chris and my cups of tea ending in the tray and not the cup but it could have been worse and been over us.

We landed 6:30am in Korea and disembarking was a novel experience. After walking down a hall and escalator, passengers then formed various lines behind large glass doors waiting for a train to take us to the passenger terminal. Once at immigration, you had your forefingers on both hands scanned and your photo taken. Don't go doing anything wrong in Korea because they will find you!

Straight out through customs and outside to the bus stop to take us to Daejeon. Just over 3 hours more of traveling through areas of intense housing complexes, then nothing, then another clump and so forth until the land became agricultural and even several vineyards. We both dozed on and off, wanting to see the country but fighting the sleep that weighed heavily on our eyes.

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There was a 15 minute break about an hour from our destination. It was a great stretch of the legs and chance to grab some water and something to eat from the transit shopping area. We got into Daejeon about 10:30am and texted the family we were meant to stay with. Previous emails and texts had not been replied to or had difficulty being delivered so I had been thinking that there was a chance we were going to be homeless and that's what happened. Don't know if something has happened to the family but it is very strange after all the communication we had with them.

Lost in Daejeon, as it seemed, we wandered the Main Street for an hour, looking for a hotel which your would think would be easy to find but alas no. We texted Erica to do a hotel search for us and she came back with a couple of names; one which mention a place we had read on a sign. Most signs had their English translation underneath. As we headed back down the opposite size of the road we saw a side street which had several hotels and promptly went into the first and booked 2 nights. We couldn't get into the room until 3pm but could leave the luggage so at least we didn't need to spend another 2 hours dragging that behind us.

Armed with a fresh sense of adventure and a local map we began to explore the town but could not match any of the streets to any on the map. Feeling very confused we made our way back to the hotel and had a beer until 3pm came around.

The hotel didn't look very old and the room was great and came with breakfast and wi-fi and laundry for 150,000 krw (only $120 aud) for the 2 nights. Laundry I hear you say, but its a necessary evil and great to be able to do it in the comfort of our room.

We hit the streets at night to see the neons shop lights and had a delicious meal in the food hall in the basement of the Galleria shopping complex. Language no barrier. It's amazing what you can accomplish by pointing and copying what you see others do.

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A different day for sure. An interesting thing to mention are the pedestrian crossing lights which don't have buttons that you need to push as they change with the lights and the green walking man after several seconds is replaced with green numbers counting down so you can see if you have enough time to get across the road. You need eyes everywhere as cars drive through if you give then any space and they drive on the right hand side so we always ended looking the wrong way.

Posted by tojoken 04:33 Comments (2)

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Sunday 23 Sept

Chilling in one of the 4 business class lounges that Thai Airways has, think there's a couple of first class too.
Checking-in is a seated affair in a separate area to the simple folk, our own customs and then off to the lounge. We wanted the one with the showers after our day out and of course it was the farthermost. Well worth the walk though to feel clean again and then we went off for our complimentary massage - choice of foot or neck and shoulder. I had the foot and Chris the neck and shoulder so now we are very relaxed. Don't think we should having any trouble sleeping on our midnight flight to Incheon Airport, Seoul, Korea.

Posted by tojoken 07:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Grand Palace and Wat Pho

sunny 26 °C

Sunday 23 Sept

The morning for me started with a 5:30am trip to the gym, it's open 24 hours and I was wide awake and annoying Chris. No, I wasn't the only one there, two other men were running on the treadmills, but I was the only female the whole hour.

Feeling rejuvenated, went to a buffet breakfast and had a wonderful mixture of bacon, eggs, baked beans, fried rice, steam pork dim sims, sweet bun, beef and black bean, pancakes and maple syrup. Not all on the same plate I hasten to add.

We were directed to the local ferry service by the hotel - it was right next door, so that was convenient. Well chosen hotel Raewyn, pat on the back for me. We caught the local ferry for 15baht and not the tourist ferry for 40baht following the hotels instructions and thinking we were being clever when the ticket seller tried to up the sale. Tourist ferry - loads of seats, local - packed to the back where we stood in the yellow section where all the signs said 'don't stand in the yellow section'. Got talking to two guys, one from Pakistan and the other Bangladesh (who work in Japan) all of us trying to find our way in a fast paced, foreign country. We stuck together working out where to get off and followed each other to the Grand Palace, via getting lost thanks to the guys listening to the locals telling them which way to go. All tourist sights say don't follow what people say as they are there to rip you off. So after a detour we ended back on track, just should have walked straight ahead.

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Had my first and only barter with a woman selling umbrellas. It was a stinking hot day and I was just thinking I need an umbrella and *poof* she appeared. She started at 500baht ($15) and I said no, 200 baht. She came down 50 and I continued to say no and she ran after us all the way to the Palace entrance (a good 200 metres) the price dropping by fifty until as we reached the entrance she was ok ok 200baht. I couldn't be bother by then, but decided for perseverance she deserved the sale. Best buy as the sun was a killer and I had sunburnt arms from yesterday.

The Grand Palace was opulence magnified. Every thing glistened and every form of sparkle was applied. Extremely crowded, there was some sort of holiday/celebration going on. By the time we walked all through the complex, we were so exhausted from the heat that we decided we would only visit Wat Pho which was on the other side of the Palace complex and then we would call it a day. Only so many temples and buddhas can be seen when the sweat in running down your back. Hate to think how good we smell but we will shower at the airport.

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Coming back to the hotel we said, hell with the expense and caught the Tourist ferry back. It poured with rain and the dash to the hotel saturated my umbrella but I wasn't going to keep it anyway - far to bulky to carry around. It served its purpose.

Well deserved cocktails and very late lunch had in the hotel lobby lounge, in all our smelly and now wet glory. Then Chris skyped the girls. Bleedin rude tourists talking loudly in a public area. Hate that don't you.

Posted by tojoken 02:11 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Ayutthaya Tour

Saturday 22 Sept

Up before the sun. Three hours time difference will do that. Watched the morning river manoeuvres by barges, ferries and the like. They boat like they drive on the roads.

Our tour guide, Ms Pu, picked us up from the hotel. I needed to change from shorts to longs to go to Bang Pa-In Summer Palace or pay to borrow a skirt or sarong at the entrance. Opted for my own clothing, so a quick trip upstairs to change and then we were on our way. Our driver, our guide and the two of us in a Volkswagon van headed an hour out of Bangkok through lush, flat countryside to the Summer Palace. This huge palace complex was built by the King Prasat Thong on Bang Pa-In Island in the Chao Phraya River, where his father had been shipwrecked in his youth and befriended a woman there who later bore him a son.

Absolutely beautiful and peaceful and not what I expected to find here, shame you have to be royal to stay.

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On to Ayutthaya (ah-yu-tah-yah) Historical Park which was the capital for 33 kings until war with Burma saw it destroyed by fire. The temples and shrine were once covered in plaster but now most are the crumbling brick remains. As with most historical sights you are not allowed to repair so eventually they will be lost. There is some bracing work in places to stop walls falling but most of the work going on was sandbagging and pumping of water and trying to stop future flooding from further damaging these remains. Back in October 2011, Bangkok was flooded 100% due to its basin like shape and water is still being pumped from these sights today.

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Several other stops at other temple ruins, a 12.45 meter high bronze cover Buddha that was moved from one of these sights and restored and a ride on the river in a long-tail boat completed the full day. Fantastic day and superb guide, would recommend using this company without hesitation. Every return to the van was met with another cold bottle of water and a ice cold flannel, both which were greatly received. As the guide said ' she was trying to melt us today'. We asked if it was always this hot and she replied 'this is not hot' with a huge smile ' it's always like this and in summer it's hotter'.

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Posted by tojoken 07:55 Comments (2)

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