Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Low Cost Air Service to Moscow, Ukraine

The British-based low-cost airline Wizz Air (,) began service this week between Budapest, Hungary and Moscow, and also serves destinations in Ukraine.

The budget airlines are starting to make inroads in the Russian market, which is good news for flyers. According to an article in, several low cost carriers now have flights to Russia, including Easyjet ( Oslo-based Norwegian has flights to St. Petersburg.

Wizz Air currently flies to Kiev and Donetsk in Ukraine, and will begin flying to Lviv next year. Vueling, a Spanish budget airline, also flies to Russia. Apparently even Aeroflot (,) the major Russian airline, will soon have a low-cost subsidiary.

Now if Rusia would just ease up on its visa requirements, it might someday become a major tourist destination. It certainly deserves to be.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seonyudo Park - Part 2

My partner in crime: Chrystal

크리스틀, 널 보고 싶당!!

I have blogged about this park before here but without personal experience I couldn't review on how tranquil the place was and how gorgeous this park will be during my favorite season; autumn. T_T the weather is getting cooler in Seoul now, it makes me miss autumn so much!!

Bun Sok - my WWOOF host from Joy Farm has suggested this park due to its uniqueness.

Unique? Because... Seonyudo Park is located in the middle of Han River! It seems like a small secluded island in the middle of a bustling city.

Bun Sok supports ecological projects and stuff so she urged me to check it out but I have delayed the visit so many times because the place is just so so close from where I stay, Sinchon...lalalalala...excuse, excuse and more excuses.

Back then ( in 2009), I have set it aside as one of my to-visit list but it only materialized after a meet-up with my dearest friend from Malaysia; Chrystal. We visited Seonyudo Park on a very hot day of the 16th May 2013.

Initially, I followed the direction that I have blogged myself here, hence I chose to take the bus from Dangsan station. However, I think it's easier to just take the bus after you exit from Hapjeong Station.

The bus number to Seonyudo Park is either:

  • Blue bus - 603

  • Green bus - 5714

The bus stop id is 19-277 and the bus stop name in Korean is 선요도공원. If you have Seoul Bus application and know how to use NaverMap application, it would be a whole lot easier to navigate your way. encouragement to get you to study Korean...kekeke.

How to go to Seonyudo Park?

출발 (chulbal) is where you start. You can see the bus icon there and that is where Hapjeong station is located.

도착 (dochak) is your destination; Seonyudo Park.

Once you reach Hapjeong Station (Line 2 or 6); go out from exit 9 and walk towards the bus stop which is in the middle of the street. Take the blue bus, number 603. Once you get on the bus, press the bell and get down at the next bus stop. Yup...only one stop!! Don't sleep...heheh. The ride will cost you 1,050 won (price may change).

The bus stop id at Hapjeong station is 14-012 and the bus stop name in Korean is 합정역.남경호텔.

You gonna pass by this gorgeous bridge before you reach Seonyudo Park but me and Chrystal chose to walk from Hapjeong Station to Seonyudo park instead. 

The very green Seonyudo park is just behind Chrystal!

More information on KNTO.

More pictures in my Facebook here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cheap Weekend Getaways

Even if you don't have the time and/or money to take a long vacation, with a long weekend getaway you can enjoy a new destination and a change of scene. Check out a blog at for some suggestions on how to keep costs under control  on a weekend break.

The author suggests flying on a Thursday rather than Friday if possible, and waiting until the last minute for the best air fares. Also, try to avoid major holidays or sports events in your destination city. Rather than burden yourself with a travel guidebook, he counsels, just look up the top 10 things to do in your destination city online.

I would also suggest that you may just want to sit around at a cafe when you reach your city, and if possible get suggestions from locals on the best things to see and do. You might also make new friends this way.

Of course it is far easier to travel to interesting cities for a weekend break from the UK than it is from most cities in North America. Budget airlines fly from the UK to places such as Riga, Latvia, Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Barcelona, Spain on a regular basis.

Still, it is possible in North America. The destinations may not be so exotic, but they can be equally fun. Sign up for air fare alerts from all the major carriers that serve your city, or your closest airport. Sometimes you can find some amazing last-minute deals.

And speaking of last-minute deals, Via Rail Canada ( recently offered a one-day only sale that reduced prices greatly on many of their routes, such as Toronto to Montreal for only $27 one way. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rent Apartments for Savings

One way to beat the high cost of hotels when you travel is by renting apartments directly from their owners. An apartment gives you a place to stay, a place to cook and sometimes a place to park. Rates are per apartment, so they are especially well-suited to couples, families or groups. Even the smallest apartments usually accommodate at least three people.

One good source for rentals is www.tripadvisor.comé They list apartments in pricey cities such as Washington and Moscow for prices well under $100 per night. Some apartments have minimum stay requirements.

For example, in the central area of Dupont Circle in Washington, a one-bedroom condo goes for as little as $88. Farther out in the lovely Palisades neighborhood northwest of Georgetown, you can rent a studio for as little as $62 a night, a one-bedroom for as little as $74. Given all the free attractions in Washington, and the possiblity of cooking at home, a stay in one of these places could be a real budget vacation.

Similarly in Moscow, a centrally-located one-bedroom flat goes for as little as $74 per night. Depending on the season of the year, Moscow hotels can be quite pricey and this sounds like a real bargain.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Casino Moscow

That is the title of an excellent book on Russia and Eastern Europe during the 1990s, when the area was known as the Wild East. The subtitle is A Tale of Greed and Adventure on Capitalism's Wildest Frontier, and it is indeed a good read.

The author is Matthew Brzezinski, a descendant of Polish landowners who found himself at loose ends in the early 90s after his Montreal construction business went bankrupt. Like many young people at that time, he headed east to see what was happening now that the Soviet Empire had collapsed.

He certainly found a lot of adventure. He barely survived a home invasion and beating in Kiev, and sometimes dining at Moscow's top restaurants was almost as dangerous. As a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Moscow he had access to many oligarchs and other top people. His girlfirend and now wife Roberta was even better connected, and he tells of how the size of his yacht dreams varied with her potential commissions on deals.

It all came crashing down in 1998 when Russia defaulted on its external obligations and its stock market collapsed. Then the foreign investors discovered that it was a lot easier to make money in the Wild East than it was to take that money out of the country.

I have long regretted that I did not visit Russia in the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it was so exciting. Now it seems much tamer, but still always interesting. Through this book, though, I was able to get a good idea of what it must have been like. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alcohol in Rice Cake

I have been shot by a few curious readers whether rice cake or tteokbokki is permissible for Muslim.

"Hey, just wanna ask if tteok are generally permissible for muslim to eat? Always thought that they contain soju/alcohol...Thanks" - on Crazy Tteok in Hongdae

~by anonymous

Under my investigator mode and some lurking over here and there on Naver and Google search engine, I found some answers:

  • what kind of alcohol was put in rice cake

  • the term used in Korean for alcohol in food

  • how much is the alcohol content in rice cake (in this case: SOGA brand)

  • is rice cake permissible for Muslim?

Rice Cake, brand: Soga from Pulmuone   

Image from E-Mart

Picture 1: Alcohol put in rice cake is called as 주정

 Picture 2: 발효 알콜 - alcoholic fermentation process

Research 1

Alcohol put in rice cake is called as:

  • 주정 (Picture 1) - Ethanol

  • 알콜 (Picture 2) - Alcohol

Based on this question,  on Naver; the question was answered in detail.

주정(酒精): 알코올의 한 가지. 술의 주성분으로서 주로 녹말로 만드는 무색투명한 액체.

Ethanol (酒精): one kind of alcohol. Of alcohol as a main component to make mostly colorless and transparent liquid starch.

Research 2

A detail research on alcohol: Alcohol - The Myth and The Realities by Dr. Mian
N. Riaz
(He has a Ph.D. and presently working as food scientist
with Texas A&M University in Texas.)

Dr. Mian N. Riaz said:

"Alcohol (ethanol, ethyl alcohol) is usually made from starch,
sugar and other carbohydrates by fermentation with yeast; also,
synthetically from acetylene or ethylene. It is clear, colorless,
very mobile, flammable liquid; a pleasant odor; burning taste;
and miscible with water and with many organic liquids. It is hygroscopic
and relatively nonionic. Ethanol has a slightly sweet taste and
a characteristic aroma."

 "ethyl is the best-known alcohol and the one that concern us most,
as it is the principal alcohol to be found in all alcoholic beverages."

There is no any difference between ethyl alcohol and ethanol.
Both are the same thing except two different names."

"Muslims don't have to worry, if they find a
food label statement which says "sugar alcohol."

" The non- alcoholic drinks may not be entirely
free from alcohol, as there is no known process that will extract
all the alcohol from an alcoholic drink.(2)
The small traces of alcohol make the labeling of the beverages
an issue."

"From the above discussion, it is clear all alcohols and liquors
are not same
. Some are intoxicants and some are not. Often, alcohol
and liquor are used simply as a description. Therefore, Muslims
should not be confused or worried with terminology. However, if
any intoxicant liquor or alcohol is used in any product then we
should avoid that product. In Islam, all intoxicants are Haram whether
they are in liquid, solid or in any other form and in any quantity

Research 3

"Ethanol CAN be obtained in foods through fermentation. Many
fruits and/or other foods with sugars can ferment in the presence of
yeast. However, this process normally doesn't happen because the food
would need to be in a container that allows CO2 to be released, yet keep
oxygen out. Oxygen effectively stops the process. A good example of
this is bread. Many leavened breads produce a small amount of ethanol
through the yeast reactions."

Research 4

You may read more about Ethanol here.

Research 5

I have personally sent an email to Pulmuone for the rice cake's brand SOGA.

Please ignore my bad Korean.

This is the reply from Pulmuone's representative.



풀무원이샵 담당자입니다.

풀무원에서는 유통기한을 연장하기 위한 합성첨가물을 사용하지 않기 때문에...

저희 떡, 면 등의 제품에는 유통기한 확보를 위해 주정을 사용합니다.

말씀하신 떡제품에는 떡중량의 0.4%정도의 주정이 사용되며,

이는 대부분 조리과정에서 휘발/ 제거됩니다.

대부분 알콜알레르기가 있으신 분들도 제품에 사용된 주정이 문제되지 않는 수준이므로 

제품 이용에 문제는 없으실 듯 합니다만....

안내드린 내용을 참고하셔서 제품이용을 부탁드립니다.


Translation (I tried to translate it as best as I could):


I am Pulmuone's representative.

In order not to use synthetic additives to prolong the shelf-life of Pulmuone's product, we use alcohol instead to prolong the shelf-life of the products for example rice cake, noodles and etc.

As the referred rice cake products (SOGA - in my email), from the total weight of the rice cake (which is 600gm of rice cake) 0.4% is the alcohol perused (about 2.4 gm). Most of it (volatile alcohol) will be removed (evaporated) after the cooking process (for example: after making the tteokbokki)

Most people who have alcohol allergy; in other words will not have any problem using the products (from Pulmuone) because of  the alcohol level perused in the products.

We would be glad that you could use our products after the information given as reference. 

Thank you"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Queen Mary 2 Deals

There are some great prices for Trans Atlantic crossings on Cunard's ( Mary 2 this fall and winter. Rates for the seven day crossing between New York and Southampton start at only $699 per day per person, or about $100 per day. Considering that this includes your cabin (probably inside) all your meals and lots of free entertainment, it is hard to beat.

These deals are available on sailings on October 27, November 19, and January 3. This could be a nice treat for Thanksgiving or to see in the New Year. The Atlantic can be rough in winter, but it can also be bad in summer--it's all part of the sailing experience.

While I have yet to sail on the Queen Mary 2, I have crossed twice on the Queen Elizabeth 2, her smaller sister, and enjoyed both voyages a lot.

If you prefer to sail along the coast of New England and Canada and down the St. Lawrence River with its great whale-watching opportunities, the Queen Mary 2 is offering even better rates for inside cabins on its Oct. 15 sailing from New York. The cost for a 12 day cruise starts at only $799 per person. Teh ship calls at Newport, Bar Harbor, Boston, St. John, Halifax, and stays overnight in Quebec City.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sinchon Uncles' Tteokbokki

The only food that I have missed terribly after I left South Korea - 떡볶이 tteokbokki!!

And...the reason why I only write a review on Sinchon Uncles' Tteokbokki, after so many months. *sigh*

I have been dillydallying and try my hardest not to salivate over pieces of delectable pictures....again and again *dem!! frustrated mode*. This is so killing me softly...

Why am I wearing winter clothes?! O-O

Feia and me visited Uncles Tteokbokki on 21.02.2013

엉클스(Uncles) in Sinchon 신촌 is infamous for serving tteokbokki with a wickedly huge, tender in the inside but crispy on the outside fried squid 통오징어 튀김 (tong ojingeo twigim).

I am so thankful to KBS documentary - VJ특공대 for having the restaurant in their show. The documentary (다큐) has been my bible for finding good and reliable 맛집 all around South Korea other than Wingspoon food portal.

Anywhooo...surprise...surprise!! Uncles' Tteokbokki is situated just next to that famous-spicy-sambal-sotong restaurant - Gosami!!

Why have I never realized this little gem before.....? *sigh* When it comes to food in Sinchon, it is always just Gosami in my subconcious mind but now...ahah! Another light bulb...^_______________^ problemo; just next to Gosami.

Feia suggested 복숭아쿨피스 (Peach Koolpis*...ohoho..pun aside)

I thought the juice went really well with the tteokbokki. You might need

to try one yourself to vouch for the taste too!

Here is the review for 복숭아쿨피스 (Peach Koolpise) on Naver blog but it is entirely in Korean. 

I was like...seriously?? seriously, a review??!!....hehehe..

If you're linguistically challenged by all means, read it. Practise reading Hangul more and get your lazy bum away from oggling at KPop idols!! Hahaha...*me talking to me self ya know...*'t deviate from the REAL story...let's talk more about this tteokbokki shall we?

The taste? Heavenly

The portion? Enough for 2 people ( I swear that Feia gobbled most of the portion away...heheh...just joking Feia)

The ambiance? Kinda inviting, we loved the place for sure.

The price? 3,800 won per pax for the tteokbokki + 6,000 won for ojingeo twigim (fried squid) and 3,000 won for the juice. (price may change). Our total = 16,600 won.

Almost cleaned plate..except for one or two pieces of rice cake left.

Although I am a tteok-bo but I just couldn't finish the hearty meal.

More mouthwatering revealing pictures of this superb Uncles Tteokbokki in Sinchon - A review by Orange

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Motel 6 for Low-Cost Lodging

Motel 6 ( started out 50 years ago charging $6 a night for its rooms. The chain, which now has more than 1,100 properties throughout North America, advertises itself as the lowest-cost national chain.

Today, of course, prices are considerably higher than when the chain opened. The lowest room rate is $39.99, and rates can be considerably higher near big cities or on the East or West Coast. Motel 6s,do not charge extra for kids 17 or younger, and they are pet friendly. The room rate includes free morning coffee, but not the buffet breakfast many other chains provide.

It is a long time since I stayed in a Motel 6, but I found it perfectly adequate and would not hesitate to try one again. In some parts of the country you may find independent motels that are cheaper than Motel 6s, but you don't have the protection of a national franchise.

If you are driving in North America on a tight budget, you might consider trying out a Motel 6.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busan 3D2N with Farah

This post is actually a backdated one, a trip from 9th to 11th April 2013, all thanks to the lovely and a very very humble girl from Singapore; Farah - Thank you so much.

Me at Gimpo Airport -taking Busan Air to Gimhae Airport. 

I went to Busan as a tour guide.

All thanks to Farah that I was given this opportunity to rest my mind and my body near the cool and famous Haeundae beach.

Waiting area, before boarding at Gimpo Airport.

It was my fourth time to Busan and I really feel like at home. I prefer smaller city like how I love Osaka over Tokyo. The same goes with Busan...but a warning for first-timer-entry-to-South Korea-via-Busan.

Busan is pretty much laid back as compared to the capital city; Seoul. For the umpteenth time, I just cannot..not to miss the Busan saturi = dialect. It sounds so sexy to my ears!

It kinda amazed me how I just love the intonation when people use saturi.

If you ever watched Dream High; The character Song Sam Dong played by Kim Soo Hyun spoke in saturi = dialect...Gyeongsangbuk-do saturi I guess..but I can't nail the exact district. Ilsan? Masan? Ulsan? Busan? Hmmm...If in Malaysia, that would be so "kampung" of Song Sam Dong..hehe.

Out from the arrival hall at Gimhae Airport - following the crowds

to take Busan Metro for Haeundae. Read the sign '부산김해경전철 타는곳' 

I stayed near Haeundae beach and the view of the beach was superb! The weather was great but rather cold for a dip in the beach but the sunshine...oh..sunshine. I was in love.

There wasn't much places covered during our trip to Busan, only:

  1. Haeundae Beach

  2. Yonggungsa or Yonggung temple

  3. Gwangalli Beach

  4. Gamcheon Cultural Village

  5. Jagalchi Market 

  6. PIFF 

  7. Lotte Shopping Complex at Nampo-dong

And..we covered only half day by walking and the rest of the time with taxi. Well not cheap...but Farah had blisters on her feet from her exhaustive 7-day-Seoul trip before coming to Busan. She burnt herself pretty good..heheh..Farah, I told you so lah!

Walk towards that covered pedestrian area.

I will try to write a few posts for the places covered in Busan during this trip but for now..I really need my wink. My dark-circle has gone down my cheeks,  yikes!!

Busan Metro Information.

That lovely girl; Farah

Hope this post helps to give you the feel of Gimhae Airport once you walk out to find Busan Metro. ^^

안녕히 주무십시오.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Travel News at In Transit

If you're looking for the latest news on airlines, hotels, special events and other travel-related topics, check out This blog offers detailed information that may be of use if you enjoy being on the leading edge of travel, among the first to try a new hotel, restaurant, or event.

The blog used to have a budget section, but that appears to have ended in 2010. The current edition of the blog includes information on the introduction of recking chairs to help passengers relax at several Finnish airports, not including Helsinki. I have tried the rocking chairs at the Charlotte NC airport, and enjoyed them.

You can also learn about the Berlin Jazz Festival later this fall, and about Best Western's new hotel in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to the Times, Saudi is one country that is currently enjoying a tourist boom, particularly for religious pilgrimages. Unfortunately, Mecca is not on the list of cities in Saudi Arabia where non-Muslims can go.

Earlier posts on this blog referred to a free museum day held across the United States under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution in late September. I could not determine whether the day will be held again this year, but check the Smithsonian's Website at later this month.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

AirAsia Busan Route - To Fly or Not to Fly

Not a great idea if you're...

a first timer in South Korea


if you visit the country for less than a week. 

Entering the beautiful country via Busan is..I am pretty sure... not really worth the first time experience

Although AirAsia cheap airfare to Busan is kinda tempting and well promoted too yeah?

I am not belittling Busan..of course! Who am I?? Busan is great..I love the manly man and the sexy saturi...ok, I'm serious. Saturi is sexy! Hehehe...

The bustling port city definitely has its own attraction and merits but believe me...not for the first timer.

Check out my reasons below. This is entirely my own opinion, you might disagree....yes or no, it's your choice.

Reason Number 1

To compare is to know the map...*cough* I mean the geographical layout of South Korea or what not. is Geography lesson 101....hehehe. Look at the map.

It takes about 3 hours and a half by public transport ie bus from Busan to Seoul and that if there's no heavy traffic and about 2 hours and 45 minutes by KTX; the bullet train.

What does it mean here? The logic...

CASE STUDY: taking the AirAsia arrival time in Busan as the gauge

0115 hours from LCCT Airport Sepang, Malaysia

0830 hours arrive at Gimhae Airport, Busan, South Korea

Say you arrive in will take KTX, cause this is your FIRST time experience taking the bullet.

Allow buffer time of 2 hours to reach Busan station for KTX, 3 hours is good (ya know...nature's call and etc --all depends on whether you're alone or in a group, young group, old group..)

Take the KTX from Busan Station to Seoul Station

If you're good..take the KTX at 1100 hours AND arrive at 1342 hours

OR the next one at 1200 hours AND arrive at 1443 hours

So far so good right? but if you fly to South Korea during the grave hours...after midnight and arrive in the morning---> YOU WILL BE DEAD TIRED by the time you reach Seoul around 2pm.

Tip: Try to stay either in Hongdae (noisier than Ewha but fun) or Ewha unversity area (a bit toned down)

So what am I saying here? the fact that YOU WILL LOSE ONE WHOLE DAY TAKING A REST..instead of painting the town red

I know that some might say..."I'm still young, I am on my best form and have climbed the Everest Mt -- I won't get tired!"...for example ^^ Of course you won't be tired...but on the 3rd day, you will be burnt...very slowly...heheh.

There goes my long-winded reason number 1.

Reason Number 2

Many of the IMPORTANT attractions can be covered in Seoul. The spots worth visiting are close to each other and walking distance. Being a tour guide with a year and a half walking experience in Seoul, you could trust me in this one. ^^

Check out Seoul magazine for easy to understand map and complete with important spots to visit. can get this magazine for FREE in KTO or Seoul Global Center if you are the lucky one to grab it early every month or you can buy it at any of major bookstores in Seoul for 5,000 won a piece.

Reason Number 3

If you love all means come during summer and try to stay in Haeundae. IMO, Haeundae is the prettiest beach among those in Busan. However, be prepared to share the beaches with Koreans as well. Summer is the peak season and a long-earned holiday for them.

But...being a Malaysian with many white beaches to choose from in her own country, I have no idea why I want to visit South Korea during summer??? I would rather go during autumn, spring or winter...just to bask in the differences. ^^

Reason Number 4

IMO,  Busan's worth visiting spots are:

  • Yonggungsa - the only temple beside the sea

  • Beaches and the bridge

  • Gamcheon Cultural Village

  • Fish markets - Jagalchi and seafood restaurant (a MUST try)

The rests, you pretty much can cover similar places in Seoul ie. palaces, temples, museums, cool cafe's and etc

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Viking's Ukraine Cruise Goes Upscale

Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.,com) is one of the largest river cruise companies in the world, with many interesting itineraries. Until recently, a few of their cruises, such as the one of Ukraine's Dnieper River and the Balck Sea, were also reasonably priced.

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. The Ukraine cruise, for which I paid about $2100 in 2010 for a single cabin, is now quoted as starting at $4638 per person. The current price is for 12 days, whereas the earlier cruise lasted 11 days. There may be reductions from the quoted price for early booking, repeat passengers, and so forth, but clearly this cruise has moved out of budget range.

The  Dnieper cruise is a great way to explore this fascinating and, at least to North Americans, little known part of the world. If you want to read more about it, refer to blog posts for the latter part of 2010. It was probably the most interesting cruise I have ever taken, out of a dozen or so. And it provides an easy way to see many of Ukraine's top attractions, even if you don't speak Russian.

Below is a picture of a statue in Kiev of one of the Cossack hetmen who ruled Ukraine in the old days.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How to Send Parcel from Korea

It has been more than two months after I left 'The land of the morning calm' aka South Korea for good. Do I miss her?

Strangely..not yet.

Maybe because I'm heading towards a new direction, a new challenge hmmm...a new me. Surprise!! ^^

Well...lets just say that, I will keep blogging about Korea but not as frequent as before.

Last few weeks, I received my parcel of 20 kg from South Korea. It took roughly 6 weeks to arrive home back in Malaysia although it was stated in the T&C, it could take the maximum of 8 weeks.

There was nothing much inside the box, really..accept books and loads of books and a few winter clothes with some sentimental values which I hang on to.

The officer asked me an alarming question though.."Please choose the options below if your parcel does not arrive within the stipulated time"

Option 1 - Return to sender

Option 2 - Resend via air parcel

Option 3 - Just let the parcel lost its way..hmmm...

I chose option 3. I know..I can be frighteningly 'cold' sometimes. Let it go Zarina...just let it go. *sigh*

Anyway, thanks to my good Korean friend I managed to bring over the huge load to the post office. Staying on the 4th floor of a goshiwon with no lift will burn me some calories definitely.

Get the correct size. (Price may differ now)

Step by Step

  1. Determine your country's zone here. Malaysia is Zone 2.

  2. Determine whether you want to send your parcel to your country via surface (ship) or air. For example to Malaysia; a 20 kg parcel takes about 2 months for about 41,300 won OR via air is 126,600 won for about 10 days. Check for your rates here.

  3. If you want to send via air, you may go to any parcel delivery center ie EMS center but surface shipment can only be done via KOREA post office. Well, I sent mine through surface parcel (by ship) right it would take between 50~70 days to Malaysia. Check the delivery standards for surface parcel here.

  4. Determine your parcel's box size. You have to ensure that you receive the CORRECT box's size by the post officer. An IMPORTANT reminder, you have to buy the box from the post office or EMS parcel center with the 'CORRECT' size of box according to your country's limit. Otherwise, incorrect box's size will be held by custom.

  5. Fill up the correct form. Air or EMS form is different from Surface form.

  6. If you pay the insurance or EMS, you could track your stuff here.

REMINDER: Do seal your package neatly and just duct-tape it as much as you can. Mine was wrapped nicely and tightly but after 6 weeks, the box was kinda 'well' handled. Thankfully the items inside were still intact.

Me sending my parcel at Dong-Incheon post office.

A sample of the form via Korea Post for Surface or Air (no EMS tracking).

TSA Expands Pre-Screening

The U.S. Transportation Safety Agency has announced that pre-screening for airline passengers will be available soon at 60 more American airports. This is in addition ot the 40 airports that already have it.

If you pay for pre-screening, you do not have to remove shoes and belts or take your computer out of your carry-on baggage while going through security. The cost is $85 for five years, and you need to submit to a security check and fingerprinting. So far, the pre-screening registration is offered only at Washington Dulles and Indianapolis airport.

This sounds like a good deal, especially for frequent travellers. U.S. airport security is, in my view, the second most obnoxious in the world, after Israel. The need to remove shoes and take out computers adds a lot of time to screening, and rules on scissors and small pocket knives lead to the loss of a lot of these items.

I was in Argentina shortly after the rules about scissors came into effect, and I had a small pair in my luggage. Rather than confiscate them, as happens in the U.S., Canada and most other places, the security people wrapped them up and sent them as checked baggage, which was very nice.

Maybe some day they will just do away with all the airport security, and we will take our chances as we used to do.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Senior Travel Discounts

One of the few advantages of getting older is that you may be able to qualify for discounts on hotels, rental cars, air fare and other travel costs. The age required to qualify varies, usually no younger than 50 and no older than 65.

If you are willing to admit to your age, it never hurts to ask about senior discounts anytime you are travelling or buying anything, for that mattter. Sometimes you may have to show proof of age, or of membership in a group like the American Association for Retired Persons ( AARP advertises its senior discounts, which may amount to as much as 30 per cent on some rental cars.

If you are a fan of the national parks in the United States, there is a particularly good deal for seniors. My friend Paul was recently visiting the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and found that a lifetime pass to the parks costs only $10 provided you are 62 or older and a U.S. citizen or green card holder. This compares to an annual rate for a park pass of $80.

In most developed countries seniors qualify for reduced fares on public transit and sometimes on trains. Museums, too, often charge lower rates for seniors. In the U.S. Sunbelt, seniors and others can benefit from the lower cost for early bird specials in many restaurants.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Volunteer in 40 Countries

United Planet (www, is an organization that offers volunteer placement in some 40 countries around the world. From one week to one year, the tasks include teaching, improving the environment, working with women, disabled people or animals, or working in orphanages.

The opportunities are not cheap, but for the longer placements they can be quite reasonable on a per day basis. A one-week placement starts at $995, while a six-month arrngement goes for $7965.  The six-month fee works out to about $45 a day.

These prices include food and lodging, airport transfers and medical insurance, but not air fare or visas. Program fees are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.

I checked out the possibilities in Russia, which require at least a six-month stay. You can work with people with disabilities, with veterans, the poor or the elderly, or in a cultutal centre. Based on the map shown, the placements seem to be in Novosibirsk, which would be a great place to work on your Russian language skills. It is far from Moscow (and just about everywhere else) and its suburb Akademgorodok was one of the jewels of  Soviet-era science.