This post is about that business trip that I took in late May to the Philippines, where a few associates/buddies and I were in Cebu and Bohol for a few days for a conference and tour. As mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, our flight took us from Vancouver to Incheon, South Korea, for a layover, before landing in Cebu, Philippines.
On the way back to Vancouver following the conference/tour, we unfortunately had an 11-hour layover in Incheon, which was an incredibly long time!
Because we were all exhausted from the numerous bus rides during the final two days in Bohol, we collectively opted not to go on more lengthy bus rides to explore South Korea, even if we had half a day to spend there.
Instead, someone in the group suggested we check out the Hyatt Regency Hotel, so the six of us got on a shuttle bus outside of the Incheon International Airport and arrived at the destination after only a short three-minute ride. (Much better than those long rides we’d had in Bohol, and a much more comfortable bus too!) Apparently, these shuttle buses run every 8-12 minutes, so definitely very convenient for tourists to the city!
At the Hyatt, we decided to first check out the Paradise Casino Incheon because a couple of guys in the group wanted to try their luck on the slots. Another associate and I decided to order some food at the bar area inside the casino. However, when we sat down at their table, a server came over and told us that the food was only for casino patrons. Basically, the bar was not open for the public, but every food and beverage item on the menu was free if you’re a casino patron.
Thus, my associate and I went to the Blackjack table to start playing. The minimum bet was 5,000 South Korean won (which was just a little over C$5), and I lost 20,000 (C$21) almost immediately before quitting. My associate had better luck, before he ultimately also lost whatever small money he’d just won. Anyway, after that meaningless exercise, we then returned to the bar to order.
By this time, a couple of other people from our group had joined us, after having had enough at the slot machines. I know a couple of the guys ordered the Grilled Mackerel with rice while I had the Korean-Style Beef Stew with Cabbage. Alas, when one of the guys tried to take photos of the food with his iPhone, the server told us that we weren’t allowed to take pictures on casino grounds. So, unfortunately, no pictures.
The Grilled Mackerel was probably tasty, because one of the guys then ordered a second! For me, the stew with cabbage was delicious. I normally like beef dishes, and since this was completely free (well, other than the C$21 that I lost in blackjack), it was a terrific meal in my opinion. Naturally, the other guys were smart and probably figured out how much they’d lost at the slot machines or in blackjack, and they ordered enough “free” food and drinks to compensate.
Soon enough, all six people in our group were eating and just hanging out to talk. The staff didn’t understand a lot of English but they were helpful. Whenever we wanted the WiFi password, the staff would just enter it into our phones themselves instead of telling us (to avoid miscommunicating because of the language barrier, I presume). I know some of the guys then ran off to check out the washroom, where apparently they had these cool buttons you could press in each stall that did different functions.
Another buddy and I were checking out baseball scores on our phones, and the big story, ironically, was South Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers pitching a perfect game into the late innings against Cincinnati. We asked the server to change channels from golf to baseball, but she told us they weren’t allowed to do so.
Our group must have stayed in the casino for over two hours for the “free” food and drinks, but we did leave some tips behind. The servers were shocked we would do that, and initially they didn’t want to take them, but finally they accepted because we insisted.
Since we also weren’t allowed to take any pictures, here are some photos courtesy the Paradise Casino Incheon website:
(All three photos are from the Paradise Casino Incheon website. For our food and drinks, our group sat in the seating area with the white chairs in the last photo.)
After that, we were tired (we barely had enough sleep because of the conference and the tour in the Philippines, and the day before we got up at 5:30 a.m. for the last part of the sightseeing in Bohol) and so we took the shuttle bus back to the airport.
At the airport, we sort of separated, as some wanted to just find a spot in the Rest & Relax Zone area on the fourth floor to take a nap. As for myself, my mistake was not ordering enough food at the casino bar, so I became hungry again eventually. Since I didn’t want to take a nap, I started using my computer on the fourth floor…until I ran out of power. Ditto my phone. I looked around and all of the charging stations in that area were either occupied or the USB ports/power outlets were out of order. None of the computers in the Internet Zone were available, and as a last resort (because I didn’t want to move out of that area) I asked the clerk at the snack bar if I could use the unoccupied outlet next to the ice cream freezer by the wall behind the counter. The answer was no.
Having failed to charge either my phone or computer, I decided it was time to eat, since I was hungry. I ordered a Ham & Cheese Sandwich and a 591 ml bottle of Vitaminwater (tropical citrus flavour). Total cost: 8800 Korean won, which was nearly C$9.50! The sandwich itself wasn’t pricey, but the Vitaminwater cost 3500 won – a whopping C$3.70! As for the sandwich, it was just an ordinary ham and cheese… nothing really to write home about. Served me right for not ordering seconds at the casino. (Since my phone was out of commission, no picture was taken then, but here’s a photo of the receipt that I took afterward….)
(A photo of the tropical citrus Vitaminwater, taken from their company website)
After that, I took a shower in the free Shower Room (where they provide you with a towel and bar of soap), and then proceeded to head downstairs to the lounge area of our departure gate. There, I was finally able to find some USB ports and power outlets to charge my gadgets, and I watched some programs (finally!) that I had downloaded on my computer prior to the trip.
Speaking of expensive food items, I also found this receipt in my wallet, where we had eaten in one of the cafeterias at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport the night before, just prior to us getting on the plane to Korea. The burger and fries, with water, cost 545 Philippine pesos, which was roughly C$13.60. Perhaps I was exhausted then and didn’t think much of it, but I do recall that two of the guys in our group also ordered the same thing and remarked it was “the worst burger” they’d ever had. Yikes.
One final thing about Cebu, since we’re on that subject: I know in my post about Cebu earlier, I mentioned the view from the hotel room wasn’t great. That’s true; however, it’s always better to focus on the positives. I remember a couple of nights when I stayed downstairs in the lounge area to chat with a couple of associates, and a live band was performing on the second floor to entertain us. Those were some wonderful conversations and just some great memories.
Anyway, the layover in Incheon wasn’t so bad. Soon enough, I was back in Vancouver, and it was great to be back after a long and exhausting trip. 🙂 And I didn’t lose everything at the Paradise Casino Incheon – I did come home with 1,000 won 😛 :
When all is said and done, this post isn’t as exciting because of a lack of photos…but I thought it was important for me to document it because we did end up having a good time during that 11-hour layover which we’d all dreaded going in. I guess I can’t speak for the others, but at least I had fun. 🙂