Monday, April 5, 2010

DISCOVERING SOUTH KOREA

We arrived in Busan Airport at around 6:50AM of March 29, 2010.   Since time zone in Korea is 1 hour higher than that of the Philippines, I manually adjusted my watch while my phone automatically updated its time.  I also set my phone to manually select a network to activate roaming feature.  I chose SK Telecom because the Customer Support I talked with a day before the travel told me this network offered cheaper roaming rates.  Temperature here is twice colder than that of Baguio City so it is best to wear your thermal suit upon arrival at the airport if you intend to go directly to your tour destinations.

Busan City is the second largest metropolitan city of Korea after Seoul.  It is like the Cebu City of Korea.  You can't see a lot of people roaming around but you can notice that it is a very progressive city.

Our first stop at around 9AM was the United Nations Memorial to pay tribute to the Filipino soldiers of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) who died during the Korean war.  Our delegation head layed a wreath to honor the heroes as the rest of the group had prayers and offered individual roses.

Then we went to Hanjin shipyard at about 11AM, the mother company of the Hanjin shipyard in Subic.  It was the first shipyard of Korea established in 1937.  They are manufacturing naval ships for the Korean Navy and also delivered orders of Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

We had our lunch at MokJangWon Korean Restaurant overlooking the Busan Bay.  I thought we will have shabu-shabu as we usually do in the Philippines, instead, we had Bolgogi... The attendant smiled when we asked for more rice...

After a quick Korean lunch (that means- no chairs:-D ), we continued with a travel of about two (2) hours to Jinhae,  the home of Republic of Korea Naval Education and Training Command (ROK NETC).  After visiting the institution that trains the sailors and marines of Korea (both officers and enlistedmen), we went directly to the ROK Naval Academy also in Jinhae.  At the academy, we dropped by the Navy Museum and seen a lot of miniature ships of the ROK Navy as well as their reverence to the fathers of ROKN and NETC (Philippine Navy's Naval Education and Training Command).

Then we went to the neighboring Changwon City - the home of Samsung Techwin, GM-Daewoo, LG Electronics, Hyundai Rotem, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Doosan Infracore, Doosan Engine.  Changwon is the capital of Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang) province which includes the Jinhae.  Visited Samsung Techwin Head Office and were expecting a brief about digital electronics technology.  Instead, we were awed by what we have seen and heard- Techwin is Korea's leading defense industry manufacturing K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled artillery, K10 ARV (Ammunition Resupply Vehicle) capable of transferring 12 rounds of 155mm ammunition to K9 Thunder, and the KAAV Amphibious Assault Vehicle. KAAV is an amphibious vehicle designed for the Marine Corps with a speed of 13 km/hr on water and 72 km/hr on land.

After the plant tour showing us the step by step modules of how they manufacture the KAAV, we departed for Seoul which is about five hour drive.  We had our diner at the expressway stop-over.  Unfortunate, while parking, the bus driver hit a truck on the right side of the bus.  I had a meal at 6000 Korean Won - pork cutlet with spicy Korean soup and kimchi.  After eating, I have to bring the dishes to the conveyor belt receiving the used utensils.  Then we continued our travel to Seoul.  We arrived at the capital of Korea around 11pm, imagine how cold it was... When I went out of the bus to pick my luggage at the bus trunk, I was chilling because I have not yet worn by thermal suits, bonnet and gloves by that time.  They were all in my luggage, so I have to hurry picking the gloves and bonnet and wore them on my way to Vabien Residences.  Whew... I made it, but I was still chilling inside.

We checked in at room 801 together with my six other colleagues.  The hotel is elegant and spacious, I can even compare it to a three star hotel in Manila, considering that its classification in Korea is only a serviced residence.  It has a kitchen complete with stoves, utensils, kettle, refrigerator and even a fully automatic washing machine.  Of the three rooms of the suite, I shared the smaller room with my colleague, though he decided to sleep at the couch at the comfort of the cable tv's remote control :-).  What is missing in Vabien is wireless internet connection.  We requested for an internet and they brought a UTP cable which can be plugged at an RJ45 socket on the wall - unfortunately, our IT powers is not enough to enable the connection.  We asked the hotel to fix the problem, the receptionist said she will visit our room to take care of it - but she never came.

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