Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Renting a Car in Jeju Island - Experience with KT Kumho @ Korea

Even though i had a car accident in Jeju Island, i would still strongly recommend visitors to plan their own itinerary and self-drive if they have the opportunity to do so! 

The island might not be big but it can still take hours to travel from one end to another and taking public transportation is just going to shorten the time you can spend on the attractions. Furthermore, the rates to rent a car were pretty reasonable; book in advance and you can even be given a hefty discount.


Step 1 - Preparation

First and foremost, however, is to secure an "international driving permit" back in your home country! For those with a Singapore license (which is recognised internationally), it is a requirement in Korea to get the permit! Get yours (S$25, valid for a year) from Automobile Association of Singapore! 

Check out the details here.

Once you have gotten the permit, the next thing to do is to visit the car rental website to make your reservation! 

Most Singaporeans seem to go with KT Kumho and reviews were generally positive (my friend actually recommended it)! Register as a member for member discount before you select the rental dates / time, choose the car brand / model and most importantly, tick the option for "zero excess" under "car damage waiver".

Without the "zero access", i believe i would be liable for a huge damage claim as a result of the accident! As driving in Korea is on the left side (while Singapore is on the right), the ₩26,000 (around S$32) is a small price to pay in event of any unforeseen circumstances. 

Once you are done, print a copy of the reservation, keep it together with your Singapore driving license and international driving permit, and bring it to the airport! Note: your Singapore driving license must be taken along


Step 2 - Arrival

Upon exiting the departure gate of Jeju International Airport, walk to gate 2 where there would be a row of car rental booths! Check in using your reservation printout and the lady would inform you to proceed to the rental car shuttle bus stop upon verifying your details. 

It didn't take us long to find the bus stop which was about one to two hundred meters away. Please DO NOT board any shuttle bus that stops there! Make sure they belong to the car rental company you have registered for! 

Darn shuttle bus has such a large television screen!! Don't be worried about your numerous luggages; like a normal tour coach, there was a compartment precisely for their placement. 


Step 3 - Collection

After a short ride of fifteen minutes, we arrived at KT Kumho Jeju Auto House! 

Enter through the main entrance and you may approach any of the counter staff to complete your registration! Unless you are proficient in Korean, do inform them at this point you need an English GPS.

For those who need clean washrooms, the ones in the auto house should meet your expectation. Put it this way, i was extremely pleased to find an electronic bidet with an option to dry my ass!!! 

To name this as a cafeteria is a bit pushing the definition of what it really is; nevertheless, you can still get some hot / cold water to soothe your parched throat. 

Next to the "cafeteria" was a counter where you can rent a WIFI router (known as an egg)! Although there were free WIFI in many places, i would suggest renting one for convenience. 

Exit from the back entrance to collect your car! As some of you might have noted, cheapo me opted for the cheapest Hyundai Morning since there were only three of us! Have money to splurge? Go for the top range that cost ₩140,000 a day! 

Whatever the case, i am really happy with my selection as it's my dream to drive a hatchback! Parking would definitely be a breeze, even for parallel! 

Only complaint? The boot was so bloody tiny; it could not hold our luggage!!! To think we only brought along one piece yet we could not even squeeze it into the car boot! 

Do check the car thoroughly to ensure that any existing damage is indicated in the sheet as above. Keep in mind the contact number of the check-in, check out office (751-8000) as you would need to input it in GPS to return the car.

Happy Driving! 

Oh, one last thing, the fuel tank would be full when you take over the car; just ensure the tank is filled to the brim when you hand it back to the company. Check the GPS for nearby gas station! 

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For the summary of my inaugural South Korea trip 
(Seoul and Jeju Island), click HERE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seoul Go Gi Jib (Seoul Meat House) - A Surprise Find Right Behind Our Hotel @ Seoul [Korea]

My lack of understanding for the language means many of the striking signboards with Korean characters failed to attract my attention when i first explored the area outside my hotel.

But the stomach was growling and severely in need of nourishment. We walked past the restaurant a second time and caught one of the kitchen staff cutting up a humongous lump of delicious-looking omelette!

That concluded our search and we strolled right in! Thankfully, they had someone who can speak in halting Mandarin and it didn't take us long to order a kimchi stew with luncheon meat for two persons, a bowl of rice and of course, that omelette which appeared on almost all the occupied tables.

The side dishes, four of them, were simple and unexceptional save for the kimchi which tasted sweeter and crunchier than those in Singapore. Joyce, being on a carbo-restricted diet, was extremely pleased with the side dishes though.

I was wondering why a bowl of rice would cost us ₩2,000 (about S$2.40) until this was placed on our table. There seemed to be a light purplish tinge on the rice and the aura it exuded (together with the ginkgo nuts, red dates, green peas etc) was definitely a healthy one! 

Sadly, the grains were unlike the rice we are accustomed to and given the generous amount, it was a bit too much for us to stomach! The ahjumma kindly helped to soak the half eaten rice in water even though we were prepared to just leave it aside! 

Kimchi stew with luncheon meat - we were given the option of either luncheon meat or pork and the minimal serving was for two persons. What caught us off-guard was the piece of instant noodles! 

We were prepared for only the broth and that's primarily the reason why we asked for a bowl of rice! Anyway, i thought it was similar to army stew, without the cheese. 

The stew was spicy (i found it too overwhelming for my taste buds though) yet especially shiok in the cool weather. What i liked most was the luncheon meat which had a flavour similar to a specific range of Maling luncheon meat before it was banned in Singapore due to high levels of Nitrofurans! 

Omelette roll is a must-order! Well, most omelette tasted rich of egg anyway but this took the cake for two reasons; one, the insides were slightly runny and two, the satisfaction of having such a big piece of omelette! 

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Did we regret making our choice? 
Of course not! Could do with less carbohydrate though.

Location
Along Sejong-Daero 2-Gil
[next to Hotel Manu]

Map
As above.

Price
Healthy Rice - ₩2,000
Kimchi Stew with Luncheon Meat - ₩14,000
Omelette Roll - ₩7,000

Additional Information
The restaurant filled up really fast when the clock hit 12 noon (which said a lot about its popularity and likely, authenticity). We were lucky to have stepped in at 11.45 am as a queue has already formed outside the establishment by 12.05 pm. 

I don't know how to recognise / pronounce the name of the restaurant. If you are proficient in the language, you may refer to the name card as appended above. 


For the summary of my inaugural South Korea trip (including Seoul and Jeju Island) and details of the respective days i was there, click HERE.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day One [Singapore -> Seoul]: Korea 2014 Trip

I can never imagine why travellers would want to wait until the last minute before they check in; in my opinion, check in should be allowed even up to six hours in advance so that i could truly check out the world class Changi Airport, from the inside! 

Alas, i could not really do that in my recent trip as it already took us more than half an hour to flag a cab to bring us down to Terminal 3! By the time i cleared custom, it was almost time to line up in queue to board the plane. 

Whatever the case, it was a full-serviced airline and for sure i am guaranteed to have the comfort (a blanket, pillow etc) that budget airlines would not be able to match at the face value of their ticket!

Look, i am not complaining; without budget airlines, you would rarely see me flying out of the little red dot! There are some frill benefits to taking Singapore Airlines (like the USB port where i can charge my iPhone) but with the advancement of technology (especially iPad), i believe many of us can self entertain without the TV screen in front of us. 

Having said that, my heart could not help fluttering towards the many recent blockbusters listed on KrisWorld (Singapore Airlines' in-flight entertainment system)! Transformer: Age of Extinction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, How to Train Your Dragon 2; all of which i have yet to catch!!! 

As expected, i sacrificed sleep (cannot sleep anyway since it was day time when we departed) to watch the movies and manage to catch three of them just for this leg of the plane ride. 

The aeroplane had to divert to the runway at Terminal 2 before it could take off. Saw the road? That was the exact same road that brings us to the airport. It is quite an impressive sight to see gigantic planes moving across the bridge whenever i drive past. 

Took off at Singapore Time 3.19 pm; a delay of close to 25 minutes! 

Hm..... What is the government building again this time? Oh! I think this would be the new site for terminal 5, said to be one of the "largest terminals in the world" when completed with the capability to handle 50 million passengers a year!  

Time to take off the seat belt (captain recommended everyone to keep it on though). The announcements were made in English and Korean (duh); the most interesting one i have heard so far was a hokkien version when i took a flight to Xiamen.

Menu of the day! 

I requested for the beef bulgogi with meat that was a tad too chewy yet flavourful enough for me to clean up the entire rectangular plastic bowl. Dessert was a disappointing Magnolia Mag-A-Cone; had Magnum then when i was on a SQ plane to Beijing a few years back. 

Like this photo as it seems so vintage!

6pm with the setting sun; so long i am given an option to choose my own seats, you would likely see me opting for the seats not facing the sun! Taking photos would be a pain to the eyes!

Most passengers started dozing off, including my two sisters. I was glad to have a window seat and an empty seat next to me! 

30 minutes to reaching Seoul - temperature outside was a freezing -36 degrees celcius?!!?!? No way would you see me ever climbing Mount Everest, which is at about the same altitude. 

Insufficient time to catch a fourth movie, i started playing a game i used to enjoy; Zumba (not to be confused with the Zumba fitness dance). 

Taking the shuttle train to the main passenger terminal where we can have our passports chopped! Both sisters looked so fresh because they had sufficient sleep on the plane! 

Upon clearing the custom, it's time to seek out the Incheon Airport Railroad Express (also known as AREX). p.s. just a normal train with all-stop or express options. Express option (more than double the pricing for an all-stop) would bring you directly from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station. For more information, click here.  

Not that i want to scare you but in Seoul alone, there are nine metro lines with many intersection points! Do check your navigation before you proceed. For us to get to Hotel Manu, we had to exit from Seoul Station Exit 2, towards Metro Line 1 / 4. 

For that one metro line (1 in this case), there are already nine bloody exits! An online directional guide was a failure in navigating us to the hotel and we were lost for about ten to twenty minutes even though we exited correctly! 

Thank god i am pretty good when it comes to reading maps! Another turn and voila, there's Hotel Manu right in front of us! Given the state of my tiredness, it didn't take me long to drift into dream land right after i took my shower. 

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For the summary of my inaugural South Korea trip (including Seoul and Jeju Island) and details of the respective days i was there, click HERE

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