Our flight back home consists of Mu 5042 with transit at Shanghai Mu 545. Although the flight departed from Seoul at 12.55 pm, we were there by 9.30 am to claim the meager tax refund.
It was a troublesome procedure. Here’s a recap of how to get our refund :
1 - When we make a purchase at a tax refundable shop and if the amount exceeds 30 000 won, a receipt will issued by the shop when amount that can be refunded indicated.
2 - Fill out the particulars in the receipt.
3 - Pack the purchase items separately in case Customs demands to have them inspected.
4 – Go to the respective checkin counter for our flight and do the usual checkin. Tell the staff that we want to claim a tax refund.
5 – We will be given our boarding pass and luggage tagged. ( we have packed our meager purchase in the luggage to be checked in ). The staff will weight, issue our bag tags BUT not send in the luggage to the conveyor system.
6 – Go to the Customs booth instructed by the check in staff. Show our passports and receipts ( which has all our particulars filled up ).
7 – Customs will stamp the receipts to acknowledge that they have seen the items ( which they didn’t ). They will collect our tagged checkin luggage, x-ray and send them into the system via the conveyor.
8 – Enter immigration was usual.
9 – After passing through immigration, look for the tax refund booth.
10 – Submit the stamped receipt. A cash refund will be given as indicated on the receipt.
Whew! It was a lot of work but the checks were there to prevent abuses in the tax system, so we have to bear with it.
To spend the remaining won, I bought a perfume ( 11000 won ) and ginseng tea ( 14000 won ). The price is fair and service was friendly. The Chinese were out for the last kill at the airport, swipping Prada bags off the shelves. It was horrifying to see their hand luggage consisting of bags and bags of airport purchase!
Flight back home from Seoul and transit at Shanghai was smooth, thankfully. Looking back, Seoul's Incheon is a nice place to set off but the same could not be said for Shanghai. It is utilitarian though toilet facilities were many and better than that in Dubai. What Incheon lacks in sophistication compared to Changi, it compensates in terms of price – food at its food court was reasonable and seating plentiful.
Thus ends our first holiday to South Korea. It is a land of many surprises with strong service culture. The people’s resilience can be seen in their hard work despite the cold. Self discipline and mutual respect is very evident in that seats for senior folks were never occupied despite a packed train and a elder person is always given a seat. There are no cleaners in the streets or mountains nor were thrash bins easily , yet the streets were clean despite the crowds. Foods are not aesthetic in most cases but if we eat with our other senses, it provides the most amazing culinary experience in Asia.