Korea Travelogue: Day 15 - Isaac Toast and Namsan Tower
I am majorly excited as I type this because it means I've finally finished the entire Korea travelogue series for my last trip! :D So let's continue with it for the final day that we had in Seoul. Breakfast at Residence EO (guesthouse) is pretty mundane, just plain toast with strawberry jam so we decided to have toast from Isaac Toast & Coffee instead.
Isaac Toast & Coffee is a chain store providing toast (duh!) and conveniently, right outside Residence EO there was an outlet! Note that this outlet is not open the entire day (some outlets are - the one in Jeju was open till night) so do come in the morning if you'd like to try their toast.
Very extensive toast menu
Translated menu for tourists
Breakfast was extremely yummy (and sinful) hence it was a good start to our morning! We actually tapao-ed the toast back to our rooms to have it before heading off to Namsan Tower. We were actually staying on the side of Myeongdong that can access Namsan Tower directly. It's a horrible climb all the way up to the cable car station hence we gave up on the idea because it was too tiring! Decided to be really lazy and called for a cab up to the foot of Namsan Tower and do the short walk up to the tower like what I did in 2013.
Karma was a bitch because we were fated to just climb up and lose all the weight we put on in Korea - the taxi driver got lost and dropped us off literally at the foot of the hiking trail up to the top of the mountain where the tower is T_____T
So climb we did and promptly realised how unfit we were hahahaha!
View of central Seoul
At the rest stop halfway up the stairway to Namsan Tower
We actually reached the foot of Namsan Tower after a good 30 minute walk up from the foot of the mountain. Really FOL please lol but it's really an experience because we have decided to never return here, at least not in the near future. Reason why we came was because Wanjun had yet to visit Namsan Tower before so we decided to accompany her there.
Here's our main motive of the hike up to Namsan Tower - to place locks there hahahaha! I'm actually amazed that despite visiting Namsan Tower so often, I've never done the whole love lock thing until this trip. Actually no one should do this because it just brings me sad memories. SIGH. Anyway, you can choose to bring your own locks or purchase them on the spot at exorbitantly marked up prices of course lol. Demand over supply please xD
KRW6,000 for this and the lady lent us markers to write on them
We all got a little delusional like all fangirls are and decided to write all our idols' names on the lock #fangirls4eva
This bench is also iconic to Namsan Tower because it's meant for couples to sit on it and 'slide' to the middle to be as close to one another whilst sitting down lol. Of course the oppa above will give you his blessings HAHAHAH!
If a normal lock is not large enough for you to write everything down, a handphone case cover will work too lol. I've also seen bicycle locks there before, super kiasu all these couples haha!
We didn't go up the tower because we weren't that interested but if you like having a look at an overview of central Seoul, you can choose to go up. There is also a teddy bear museum inside the tower so you may choose to visit it.
Left Namsan after that and headed back down to ground via the cable car. You can walk down straight to Myeongdong from the cable car station and that was what we did because there was still time to kill before we had to leave for the airport.
Dog that was meant to promote a dog cafe that was in Myeongdong. He attracted a ton of onlookers because he's just so fluffy!
Last meal at Myeongdong underground was tteokbokki and mini kimbap (my fav!). Afterwards we left to grab our luggage and head to the bus stop to catch the airport limousine bus.
We were really lucky then because for some weird reason the bus took super long to reach Incheon Airport - about an hour 15 mins when it typically takes approximately 40 minutes to reach and our flight was delayed, buying time for us to check-in on time and get our tax refund. I would still recommend that you set some buffer time if you're taking the bus to the airport. A more safer alternative would be the Airport Railway Express train service if you live around a station along that line.
So I always get a ton of emails in the past asking me what do I have to do to claim back my tax refund when in Korea. Hopefully whatever I am going to type below will help anyone who is going to Korea soon because although the process is very simple, it can be pretty confusing due to the processing to get your money back.
- Check-in at the airline counter. Then tell the staff you have items in your luggage that requires tax refund. He/She will process your boarding passes etc and tag your luggage. Take your luggage now over to the tax refund section at Incheon Airport.
- Take the receipts that require tax refund to the automated machines, there will be a staff on standby to assist you with the entire process. He/She will sort out the receipts based on the type of refund, just let them do it because they know what they're doing really. They then scan your receipts that can be accepted into the system (side note: super high tech pls lol!) before going to the customs officer at the tax refund counter to attain the stamp.
- He/She may or may not ask to check your items for tax refund, depending on the crowd that day I suppose. I have had my items checked before and have also not been checked on occasions so it really depends. Once you have the stamp on all receipts, queue to check-in your luggage at the counter directly beside the tax refund counter.
- Watch your bags get dropped and then head to the departure gate to clear immigration.
- Once you've cleared immigration, follow the instructions on the back of your receipts. Depending on the type of tax refund company, you have to go to different counters to get your money back. If you're super blur at this stage, just sort according to the header of the receipt then queue for the correct counters. I did have to go to a counter to get some of my money back, then head to an automated machine to get my money back too.
Honestly, it's quite baffling but everytime I always get my money back la so not too worry lol! And very important, please factor in the time needed to get your tax refund back when planning your trip. Getting to the airport 2 to 2.5 hours before your flight may seem a long time but you really need that time to do all the necessary documentation to get back your tax refund and let me tell you, the queues at Incheon Airport can get quite long even at the check-in counters!
So yes, with the whole tax refund done, we had to hurry to Starbucks to buy our special Korea tumblers (LOLOLOL! Yes, super important ok!!) before running to our gate to catch our flight. Pssst the Starbucks in the departure area of Incheon Airport stocks the entire range of merchandise from all around Korea so if you do not encounter a Starbucks whilst travelling, you can still pick up a souvenir from the airport outlet.
Wokays so that's it folks for the entire 15 day travelogue. I hope it's useful in planning for your trip to Korea, if not I'll just take these entries as memories of my wintery and wonderful trip to Korea.
I'll compile all the entries in a separate entry so it'll be easier to click and refer to each destination. Till then, enjoy Korea and be back soon for more of my rubbish on this blog lololol.
I'm actually planning my next trip to Korea in spring 2016 so if anyone has any new places to recommend please leave a comment below for me to check it out. TIA and bye! ^^