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Ready or not, here I come

Departure day has arrived

After countless hours of research and planning, several stressful moments, the day has come to board a plane to fly to South Korea to take in the winter Olympic games and tour the country.

Olympic ticket sales were languishing so I wasn’t in a rush to commit to specific events. I was keeping an eye on airfare prices and with each day, the prices were going lower. Knowing it would likely go the other direction within 30 days of departure, I bought my ticket.
A couple of weeks later, I booked a hotel in the Myeongdong district which is adjacent to Seoul Station. Myeongdong is a popular shopping district and a number of tourist attractions are close by including the N Seoul Tower.

The plan was to purchase a 7 day unlimited use KTX pass and take the high-speed train to and from the Olympic game sites each day. I soon discovered that while you could buy a pass, making reservations was a huge issue as demand exceeded supply. The fine folks at KTX clearly did not do the math properly. Probably the same people that were fired from Hyundai for getting the gas mileage claim horribly wrong on the Elantra.
While there is standing room spots available on a first come first serve basis, the hundreds of angry pass holders were indicating it was going to be an all-out donnybrook to get one of the few spots.

Time for plan B, take the bus! The city of Seoul announced they would provide 70 buses each day during the games free of charge. Unfortunately they were all booked before I discovered it was even an option.
Express Bus looked to be an option as I found dates and times to get us to Gangneung on the 15th and returning on the 17th. I selected the seats and had the credit card out and ready to enter at the next payment screen. Unfortunately when I got to the payment screen, I discovered that they only take South Korea credit cards. Foiled again!

Time for plan C, book a rental car. The thoughts of driving in South Korea reminded me of my last visit to the Proctologist, painful but necessary. Booked the car including a GPS. I had to book through a National Car Rental agency a little off the beaten path as it appeared none of the rental companies located beside Seoul Station had a car to rent on my days. I felt a sense of relief that I had transportation sorted out and bought the Olympic tickets for the key events that were close to selling out.
Received the confirmation email from National and noticed a statement near the end of the document indicating that a GPS will be provided if available. Um… excuse me!

Another ‘oh shit’ moment. Maybe I should record the directions as a backup. Nope! Google does not have an agreement with South Korea for mapping data. A quick internet search revealed that MapQuest should work. Nope! Road names not available or in Korean only. A bit more research indicated there was an app I could put on my phone and then download the map of Korea to get turn-by-turn directions in offline mode in the event cell coverage is an issue. Issue resolved. I think.

The plan is to leave early on the 15th so there is plenty of time to get to the Gangneung Coastal cluster. As luck would have it turns out the 3 days I will be driving are expected to be the busiest with the Lunar New Year celebration occurring on the 16th. Apparently there will be lots of speed zone cameras and a couple of toll booths. Speed limit is 90km/hr making the drive about 2.5 hours each way.
The accommodations in Gangneung are at a boarding house with bunk beds in a common room. Should be interesting and thankfully only for two nights.

Once we land in Seoul it will be a 1 hour subway ride to Seoul Station.
Tomorrow is a day set aside to adjust to the time change and get my bearings so tomorrow post may not have much to report.

Time to board the plane in Vancouver!

Posted by cm008507 10:56 Archived in Canada Tagged airport vancouver international

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