Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tae Wang's army journey- The preparations

Can you believe that I'm still sorting out photos ans the things I bought during my Korea trip? And I came back about 2 weeks ago! The girls already had 2 gatherings during this time!

I've been busy everyday since I came back. Sigh.

Anyway, finally managed to find some time to start on my 1st post about the trip today.

I've been going to Korea every year since 2003 and out of the 5 trips I made, only last year's trip was not JF related. We always have members asking every year when the club would organise a trip. It's not easy....and whenever we do organise one, it's always lots of hard work way before the trip.

When to go?
Why should we organise the trip? There has to be a reason as JF is not a tour agency.
Which agency to use?
How long should the trip be?

And the number one question members always asked us..."Will they get to see BYJ?" They will sign for the trip if they can see him.

Heck, if we can guarantee that they can see BYJ, we'll have thousands signing up. So our disclaimer when we announce such trips, which we always put in big, bold red letters: "We do not guarantee that you will see BYJ."

Hehe! But hor....we've always been quite lucky, we've pretty much managed to see him on almost all the JF trips.

Anyway, when we organised this trip, the main purpose was to watch the last episode of Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi in Korea. Somehow, it felt more exciting this way. And of course, we would be visiting all the filming sites.

Julia and Lynn did alot of preparation work...planning the itinerary, checking with the various agencies and sending out emails to the members. Believe, it wasn't easy.

Although some of the quotes from the other agencies were slightly cheaper, we still decided to go with LCK Tour. And your eyes aren't playing tricks on you...their website is in Japanese because their customers so far have been Japanese, with the odd number of Taiwanese or Hong Kongers joining the Japanese tours. So, Joon's Family was the first non-Japanese group to join their tour.

Unfortunately, their staff doesn't speak much English and our Korean was limited company. We have to thank one of the Korean sister, S, who very kindly helped us with the communications and translations. I'm not sure if she wants to be named, but we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to her.

LCK is well known for being very updated and well informed about BYJ's whereabouts and intinerary. We found out later they are also very knowledgeable about the various filming sites...especially those relating to BYJ. ^^

But because, we were the 1st non-Japanese group to join their tour, I think they were not quite prepared for us. Or rather, I think they found out that we are very different from the Japanese fans. This threw them off a bit. So there were hiccups along the way, and unfortunately, the first major hiccup happened on the very first day, so that spoilt our image and impression of them quite a bit. But I believe these were all due to different expectation, preparations works and miscommunication. It got better with each passing day. I'm certain LCK Tour placed quite alot of importance on our group (the fact that GM An was on the trip with us was an important indicator) as it would be a good step for them to expand beyond Japan. It's been a good experience for them and as for the majority of us, we still enjoyed oursleves during the trip. I like to think Mgr An enjoyed our company too. Now, I really hope they get some English speaking staff on their team soon...that would help alot.

This trip had lots of difficulties even during the preparations stage.

One of the girls had to pull out as she was hospitalised the weekend before the trip. Then another almost pulled out because her son was going for a surgery a week before the trip. Yokee asked me how many people were going on the trip, I replied: "either 16, 17 or 18...don't know' and this was about one week before the trip. So you can imagine Lynn, Julia, Jos and me pulling our hair out. I seriously think I had a few more white hairs because of this trip. Hmm...if I go highlight my hair, can claim back form club fund or not huh?

Then we almost couldn't get air tickets. For this, I would really like to thank Korea Tourism Organisation and Asiana Airline. hehe! I think we may still be in Singapore if not for their help.

And oh.... just 5 days before we were going to leave on trip, we received word that BYJ would still be filming during our trip in Korea.

Now this was totally unexpected.

We were leaving on the early morning of 29th November and he was supposed to have finished filiming by 25th November. Of course, we heard the reasons for the delay later but for the moment, there was only one important decision to make:

"Do we want to change our itinerary to have that one possible chance of seeing him?"

Of course, the answer was a no brainer. Again, I would very much like to thank Asiana Airline for being so accomodating in our mad scramble to change our Jeju ticket at such last minute. We received confirmation for our Jeju flight the day before our trip. Whew!

Now it would mean that we would have one less day to shop and see in Seoul. But I think none of the girls minded.

Also, due to a slight change in our flight, I ended up having to book rooms in Seoul Tower Ville for the last night for everyone (those leaving on the 7th December)except for 3 girls.

Forgot to mention that there were actually 5 departure dates.
7th Dec- 7 pax
9th Dec- 1 pax
10th Dec- 6 pax
11th Dec- 2 pax
13th Dec- 1 pax

Complicated huh?

So, orginally, this was our itinerary:

Incheon-> Jeju-> Wando-> Gwanju-> Naju-> Yongpyong-> Seoul

Then it was changed to this:
Incheon-> Danyang-> Jeju-> Wando-> Gwanju-> Naju-> Yongpyong-> Seoul

But there was another change later on during the trip and it was changed to this:
Incheon-> Danyang-> Jeju-> Hwaseong-> Naju-> Yongpyong-> Seoul

I think this map that Jos did would give a better idea of our trip in the end and how much travelling we did (you can click on it for a bigger and clearer picture):

And so this became a rather eventful trip, right from the start. ^^

But who cares, we were on our way to Korea. In fact, Bessie, one of the girls, was so excited, that she started emailing all of us with currency conversion, shopping links and weather updates and even a countdown to the day before our departure.

And so, on the night of 28th November, the group of us were at the airport, all ready and excited about the journey to Korea. As usual, for some of the girls, it would be their first trip. But whether it was the 1st time or the 5th time, we were still happy and thrilled about the trip.

The Tae Wang's army from Singapore was ready to start the journey in search of our King.

credit: Kellybyj


bb said...

ah... finally you've started on this :)

can't wait for the rest of the trip report...

and... where's kelly huh? thought she's the 'official photographer'? want to see her pics leh... did i hear she took some 3,000 pics?!!

tiffany said...

Not sure how many photos Kelly took, but 3,000 photos won't be surprising. I took almost q,000 myself.

I'm sure she'll start posting some soon on JF and soompi. ^^