Friday, September 29, 2006

No emails :-(

Well the two emails I sent in English, one to tea guesthouse and the other to DaIn ferry company, have not received replies. Perhaps I am being impatient. But I did have a dream of tea guesthouse that said that they have received my booking and changed it to 4 days from three days. Very unusual that. I have even trawled through the junk mail to make sure yahoo did not deem the emails spam. They do that from time-to-time.

Going away picnic

Well, after being prompted by Belinda, as I had not even though of this, I am having a going away Picnic thing. It is to be at Parramatta Park on Sunday 8 October at 12 midday. If there is rain it will be at Sandra's Place. There are tables but I do not remember if there are BBQ's. I will visit when I get the chance, and add more info, otherwise there is a cafe at the lake.

The eucalypts

DaLian and Port Arthur

Well I was reading some info on DaLian (大连) and wondering; where is Port Arthur? Is DaLian Port Arthur? Well it turns out it is not. Port Arthur was 40 nautical miles further south, close enough to visit. It is now called 旅顺口( Lu3shan4kou3). Maybe I should go there for a day or two. I also found a English speaking tour company in DaLian.


I forgot to mention. Two days ago, I went to the bank. I swapped my accounts around on my backup card and ordered a key card as a final backup. When overseas you generally only have access to the primary savings account on the card. So it is important that the right account be the primary savings account. However, with a credit card, it is possible that I will not be able to even access the primary savings, so it is good to have a card where there is only one account and this is the primary savings account.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Google adds

It is quite fascinating to see what adds google will offer on the link above. At first we got cheap hotels, and Korea tourism sites. Then we moved onto Chinese visa application sites. And now (and perhaps little more worryingly) we are getting 5 star hotels and Chinese dating sites. I will keep an eye on this. I have not tried the Chinese dating site... yet.

Tea Guesthouse

Sent off an emil to confirm they received my booking and to extend it by one day.

Korea Rail Pass

I have chickened out of driving for now. I have purchased a Korea Rail Pass for 10 days, the longest available from STA travel here in Paddington. At first they were not sure if they sold the passes. STA is listed on the Korea Rail web page, but I did not know if all their offices sold the passes. However, after a quick investigation, they determined that they do sell the passes. It took an unexpectedly high amount of typing to generate the order. In the end, it turns out that I have a voucher, not in itself unexpected, to get a voucher, now that is unexpected, when I get to Seoul. I then take the voucher to Korea Rail and get the pass. A bit complicated really. The agent in Korea is:

Kises Travel Office
YMCA building, Suite 505
Chongno 2-KA Seoul
(02) 733 9813

I will be traveling for 14 to 15 days. So 10 days is not enough. I have decided to travel counter-clockwise around the country. This means that I will be able to use the rail network for the first 10 days. At the end I will be in the north-east at the National Park. There is no rail network up there, so not having a pass is not a bad thing. I will decide when I get there if I should drive or use the express busses.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


After some hunting around the site and using a dashboard widget to translate, I found an emial address for the ferry company on their web site. It was not under the carefully labeled in english - Contact Us, button, but on the prices page. The price does not include the 1,000 won for something I cannot remember or the 7,000 won fuel surcharge.
Ferry chage: 일등실(FIRST) 원화 165,000.
Extra charges: ₩1,000원과 터미널사용료 1,600 유류할증료 7,000원 별도

A visit to the doctor

I visited my doctor (Dr Herat). I am taking drugs for high blood pressure and for high cholesterol. Though the latter seems to be back under control. Normally with prescription drugs you can only get one repeat at a time. But as I am going to be away for so long I need to get two repeats. There is a special regulation (number 24) to allow for this and I needed to get a special prescription. Also, I got a letter from my doctor so I am not arrested when I enter 남한 or 中国 for carrying these drugs.

Korean Tourism Service

After lunch with Sandra and Belinda, I headed down to the Korean Tourism Organization. Here I met the lovely Miae. She had printed some pages from the Dain Ferry Page and provided a stack of good travel materials (see image). She also attempted to help me navigate the mostly Korean Dain Ferry page. I created a user ID and everything, only to discover that I do not seem to be able to book the particular trip I want to travel on. I will have to go back to the page and see if I can sort this out. The ship is clearly marked on the ferry timetable.

preparations for travel


I am pleased - china is 220V 50Hz, Korea is 220V 60Hz, which means that my power supplies that work on 240V 50Hz should all do the trick. Korea has round pin plugs, china has three types one of which is the same as Australia, another the pair of parallel flat plugs and the third looks like the plugs used in England with big square prongs. The plan is to get a single multi-way adapter and then use a power board. It is a bit scary having to carry a power board when traveling overseas. I used one when traveling around Australia and it was a good thing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Return of the Condor Heroes - 神鵰俠侶

Well, I am pleased, my Chinese is improving every time I watch and with the constant lessons from chinesepod. This time we watched episodes 22 to 24, so we are now officially over half way through the series. The only down side is that I will not make it through the remaining 24 episodes in the next two weeks.

Return of the Condor heroes episode 22

left - 黃蓉 - 郭芙 - right

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dinner with Ewen

I had dinner with Ewen and Karen down at circular quay. Ewen is one of the tour guides. He was in Sydney for a few days. The tour we are doing is booked out.

Dain Ferry from Inchon to DaLian

I have decided to travel on Saturday 28 October. This will give me enough time in China for two cities (DaLian and Harbin) before I need to be in Beijing. I called Korea Tourism here in Sydney. They do not do bookings, but Miae, the nice lady there, is going to help me navigate the Korean only web site to make my booking. So on Wednesday, I am off to Australia Square Tower. This will also solve the problem of not being allowed to enter Korea without a ticket to leave Korea, though I was not expecting it to be a problem.
Level 40, Australia Square Tower, 264 George St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
  • Tel (02) 9252-4147 / 9251-1717 / 1800-211-717
  • Fax (02) 9251-2104

Internet Access in Korea

There is so much info and it is all so different. They say that half of the world's wifi access points are in Korea! Anyway there seem to be the following options.
  1. Use the endless free access points or
  2. Use a Korea Telecom 3,000 won per hour pre paid card that you can only purchase at Seoul airport, but the login software does not work on my computer, or
  3. Use a Internet Bung (cafe).

Most public buildings and the airports I passed through had at least one free wi-fi service, and while one hotel charged for wired access from my room, it did provide free wi-fi in the lobby. At another extreme was a hotel that provided free wired LAN to the room and wi-fi access in the lobby. For the most part I could find free and pay wi-fi everywhere and often - they often coexisted in the same locations!

It sounds like the best plan is to see what free access there is and if there is none use a Bung.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pot Plants

Bumped into Lisa, my neighbor, in the stair well. She agreed to water the pot plants. Yay! I only recently purchased three new gravillias for the front balcony. They are going great guns and one now has flowers that are larger than the plant itself (which is more an indication of how small the plant is).

Friday, September 22, 2006

List of places to visit in Korea

The first version of this list:
  1. Seoul - maybe a whole week.
  2. Jin Ju - down south, 2 hours by bus from Busan.
  3. Seorak-san National Park
  4. Gangneung, also in the north east.
  5. City of caves - Samcheok, Jeongseon, Donghae, Taebaek, again in the north east.
  6. DMZ tour, from Seoul or from the north east.
  7. Bulguksa Temple - Gyeongju - North Gyeongsang
  8. Museum at Cheonan, 1 to 2 hours or so from Seoul.

Ferry tables

For some reason this image would not load into the previous post.

The ferry trip

I still love traveling by boat. I think it is because we migrated from Singapore to Fremantle by boat. I can still vividly remember the trip, including sitting on King Neptune's knee when we crossed the equator.
The boat trips are: Incheon -> Dalian on the Da-in Ferry- Wed. & Sat. 18:30
  • Seoul: 02-3218-6550
  • Incheon: 032-888-2611
  • Dalian: 0411-270-5082
Plan A: Dalian Ferry

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lots of Won

At the moment:

400.00 AUDAustralia Dollars = 285,668.75 KRWSouth Korea Won
1 AUD = 714.172 KRW
1 KRW = 0.00140022 AUD

simple math trick - divide won by 1,000 and add 40%.

Places to visit in Shang Hai (上海)

Hi, Ewen, hope you see this.

Places for dinner as recommeded by a Buddhist friend here in Sydney who is from 上海 for good vegetarian food: 1) "Chenghuang Temple"; and 2) "Yufoshi"-"Jade Buddha Temple"

And -

And a photo from the first time I visited 上海.

bei jing dung lu

Chinese Visa

Here is my Chinese visa. This time it is valid for 60 days. Previously you only got 30 days. The first time I was in China, in 1992 with Barbara, Arthur and Friedel, I stayed exactly 30 days.

On the opposite page to the Chinese visa, is my Mongolian Visa. I had not allowed enough time to get the Visa in Sydney, because it took so long to get the Russian and Chinese Visas that I actually obtained the visa while in Bei Jing. I think the Mongolians get the prize for the most serious border control. Our train carriage, on leaving the country was filled with about 30 machine gun toting guards for the short journey from the customs post to the border.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

International Driver's license

Getting the license is very easy, head off to Bondi Junction to visit the NRMA and hand over a photo, my NSW drivers license and $50. It is half the amount if you are a member, but I relinquished my membership a few years ago when I got the lease car. The license is good for very many countries, including South Korea, but not including China.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Still to do:

Things which need doing...
  1. Visit the doctor, is my medication allowed in these countries?
  2. Get an international drivers license.
  3. Book a rental car.
  4. Get the geocaching sites for china and Korea into the GPS and ipod.
  5. Book the ferry from Inchon to DaiLan.
  6. Work out if it is easy to get from DaiLan to the world heritage site in china near the Korean border.
  7. Get a new pair of hiking boots.
  8. Get the old camera lens serviced.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Condor Heroes

Well, previously I said that I am learning Chinese by watching a TV series called Flight of the Condor, but I remembered the name incorrectly. It is Condor Heroes. On the learning Chinese front, I am slowly improving. Occasionally when they are speaking in Chinese, I understand as if I am hearing in English, but only occasionally. With some of the characters, I am able to pick out the words and if the dialog is very simple, I can translate sometimes.

Condor Heroes

The fellow on the left is one of the hero characters, the one on the right is his new teacher.

Flickr Badge

Well, as I loaded my first image to Flickr, it is time to head off and do the flickr badge thing. For now, the badge is a bit sad, there is only one image. As I load images I will add them to the set and hence the badge will be populated. Here it is in all of it's (for now) one photo glory. I am adding the badge to the side bar.

Visa pickup

This morning I visited the Chinese consulate to collect my visa. This is an experimental blog by email from my mobile phone.


Edit: Last week I visited to apply for the visa. The image below was sent with the email, but was not loaded into the post.

Visa pickup

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fish Out Of Water Travel Bug

Today we went geocaching. We visited three caches, one to place a replacement cache, the other two to find caches. At the second cache - GCN0K3 - The Hill Over the Back Fence. I picked up a travel bug to take overseas.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Accommodation in Seoul and else where...

Normally I would travel on a $20 accommodation budget with a maximum of $50. But it seems that as I get older, I am getting softer, I have lots of equipment now. So perhaps I need to double this budget. I have booked my first three nights in Seoul. It is not a modern hotel, as these are very expensive. The plan is to stay in traditional accommodation where it is available and not too expensive. So I am staying in a Korean Gesthouse called Tea GuestHouse. The link comes resplendent with photos of the guest house. This is a good marketing ploy, and farther on there is a reasonable map.
I have fond another site with lists of traditional accommodation places. I have decided to rent a car. This gives the advantage of getting to some of these more remote places, and is not that expensive. (Though I have not fully investigated this.) I expect that my International Drivers license, now over 4 years old, has probably expired, so I need to add getting a new one to the to-do list. Driving around England and Germany was certainly worth-while.
What I need is a traveling companion. In Korea they charge by the room, so the cost for two people is normally only $1 to $10 more expensive than the cost for one person.

How to get around

While I do tend to randomly wander around my travels are structured in several ways. On is that I have a general plan, at least and entry point and an exit point. I always try to stay in one place for a few days to assist with the learning how things work and I use a good guide book. While I have used others I tend to rely on Lonely Planet, partly because it is Australian and partly because it is aimed at travelers such as myself. Otherwise the planning tends to run a few days ahead.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Visa application take 2

Well I should have known. The flower/gift shop across the road from the Chinese consulate (中华人民共和国驻悉尼总领馆 版权所有) does visa photos, to attach to the visa. Very enterprising of them. Anyway, this time I arrived armed with all the necessary bits and entered into the application hall. You should go there. It is just so very much reminiscent of a train station booking hall, found anywhere in china, but fitted out to a higher level. I instantly felt like I was in China. This was unexpected.

The application went very smoothly. There were no queues as there were at least 5 booths open, even though I was there first thing in the morning. Hand over the passport, bit of paper that is a visa application form and a photo, get back a bit of paper so that I can collect the passport in 4 days. $30 seems reasonable for a country that still requires and charges for a visa. I will take the opportunity to point out that South Korea does not require a visa at all.

*wanders off to add the consulate to the map*

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A map experiment.

This is an experimental map. I do not know if I will make the effort to keep it updated, but I will start it and add it to the side bar.

CommunityWalk Map -

UNESCO sites

On my continuing quest to find a decent mapping front end, say to Google maps, I found an interesting site with UNESCO world heritage sites.

China UNESCO Sites

South Korea UNESCO Sites, which is carefully filed under the letter R.

failed attempt to get to the chinese consultate

Well I was all ready to go to the Chinese consulate this morning and apply for my visa. But just as I checked everything, I realised that yesterday I had forgotten to get a passport photo to attach to the application. So today I need to get a photo and tomorrow I will visit the consulate.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wing Woo Hing Medicine

Well this is a reminder to myself, I always do this, and a backup for the address. Frank Cheng, recently retired to work in his fathers Chinese Medicine shop, used to work in the same section as me. So I will visit his medicine shop.

Adding Korea - 남한 and China - 中国

Well I need to start learning some Korean, and improve my Chinese so I added the names of the countries to the title.

남한 - Namhan - being nam for south, not that different from Nan in Chinese and han being for the han people. Now this is a bit confusing, as the Chinese call themselves the han people as in hanyu. It turns out the Koreans still use some Chinese and call it hanja.

中国 - jung guo (first and second tones, I think) - is Chinese for middle country. A bit pompous really. But it is their view of the world. The guo is in simplified form. This has become so pervasive that even the Japanese use it. BTW, they call Chinese Hanji and their variant Kanji. So I just need to swap a few vowels and remember which country I am in.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Booking my flights

Well, I spent some time looking through the internet at getting the cheapest flight, turns out that flying from Sydney to Seoul is cheap, but from Hong Kong is expensive. So I decided to call on the help of some professionals. I have used lots of methods for booking cheap flights before, but the quick excursion on the internet indicated that there was no difference in price. So I headed to Flight Center in Westfield, Bondi Junction. After a quick discussion with the woman there I chose a return flight from Sydney to HK and then a single hop flight, HK to Seoul. This saved over a thousand dollars. They found my unusual plans and experience in booking a flight quite refreshing and rose well to the challenge. I went away very happy.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Learning Chinese

Now that I am starting to be able to tell which dialect I am speaking in (I am still not sure what they all are) I am going much better with learning chinese. To aide the learning process I am studying chinese using Chinese Pod and by watching a soapy of a traditional story. I think the latter is called Flight of the Condor, but it may be some variant.

New Blog

I have added this blog as a new blog for my holiday this year to China and South Korea.

Why am I going? Because Ewen Bell, is running a photography tour through China. Having decided to to this, I then thought, last time I was up in that part of Asia, I missed South Korea, so now I plan to rectify that situation.

What have I done so far:

Booked and payed for the tour, payed for the flights, developed a rough itinerary. I will make the latter available on the side bar.

To do:

get a chinese visa.
decide if driving is the better way to travel around Korea.