We spent our first week in China in Beijing and Xi’an, and saw many world-famous sites!
Monday July 9 We arrived in Beijing and took the airport railway into town (another city with airport rail!). We dropped off our stuff in the hutong hostel, and then after a quick nap decided to walk around to find a city map and something to eat. We headed down to ‘tourist central’ – Wangfujing street and its surrounding area. We asked for a map at the tourist information centre and got one of the area with most of the touristy stuff. After taking in the sights (scorpions still moving on a stick, anyone?) we played it safe and got some dumplings at Donghuamen snack street, and some roasted corn on a stick from Wangfujing snack street.
Monday July 2 Our flight from Jeju Island was just a quick hop (1 hr). When we arrived at Gimpo Airport, we did the usual – grab our bags and find the information desk to ask about the best way to get into the city. The nice lady at the desk provided us with a city map and directed us toward the AREX airport express line which stopped at a station 1 subway stop away from the one nearest our hotel. The half hour ride cost something like $2 Canadian for both of us. Every time that happens I feel a bit ashamed that Toronto isn’t providing the same sort of service. It would really add value to the city.
Thursday June 28 We started a bit slowly after our big night at the ball game in Busan. We packed up, checked out of SUM, and took a cab to the airport, where we grabbed lunch before taking a quick hop over to Jeju Island. Cabs are very cheap in South Korea, which is great because it was to be our primary form of transportation on the island. Jeju is a volcanic island dominated by a single peak (Mt. Halla, or Hallasan), which lies to the south of the rest of South Korea.
Upon arrival we picked up a map and a bus schedule, hailed a cab to our hotel, and promptly fell asleep until dinner time. Too much fun the night before! We wandered the area around our hotel and found a street full of restaurants and bars. We thought we’d try a place called Red Station advertising “hot chicken”. We ordered two types (wings and chopped up meat) and some rice balls on the side. No false advertising there! It was pretty spicy. One thing I really liked is that they provided plastic gloves to wear while eating the wings, so you have clean hands when you’re finished eating. What a great idea!
Monday June 25 We landed in Busan, and had a quick chat with a young Korean seaman before we disembarked the ferry. He asked us where we were from and if we felt ok during the voyage (there were ~2 m swells on the ocean, and a few people were not doing so well). We both did ok, although it is as bit rougher on the water in a jet boat than it is on something that moves a bit more with the waves!
We were the last to get through immigration and customs, and once we were through we asked for a map and the location of the nearest bank machine that takes foreign cards, as we were going to have to pay for the balance of our hostel booking in full upon arrival. Getting money turned out to be a bit harder than in Japan, but after visiting a few banks we finally found one that worked! We took our ~10 minute walk over to the hostel, which was tucked away on a side street next to a big market and got our room squared away. We shared with a fellow from Hong Kong named Bob, and someone else we didn’t meet until later on.