As the plane touched down the excitement began to grow. A new adventure was underway and I was in South Korea. The flight from Shenyang was only an hour and a half, but since my favorite Dutch girl was not sitting next to me, I wasn’t really excited until we landed at Inchon International Airport.
Arriving in Seoul
The airport was one of the largest and cleanest I have been in and after taking trams, stairs, and moving sidewalks we finally made it to costums. We picked the wrong line and things were getting dicey, three out of the four Chinese people before us were turned away; ushered unto a side room and never to be seen again…. At least by us. This is a story about our trip to South Korea not North Korea…. That story is soon to come. As we nervously approached the counter to get cleared through costums I remembered there was nothing to worry about… or was there…. No! There wasn’t we were allowed into the country no problem.
The first thing we noticed was how modern it seemed. Everything was clean and organized. Our first goal was to find our hostel and drop our bags, we packed light this trip which was nice but we still didn’t want to drag our backpacks all around Seoul. We took the subway into the heart of Seoul about an hour ride from the airport. (Nobody told us it would take so long.) Once we got off at our stop (Hongik University Station) we were lost. There were cars and people everywhere! After sometime wandering around the Hongik Uni area; tired, hungry and with our packs, we started asking for help. Each time we asked we got a little closer to the hostel and also learned more about the average Korean. What we learned is they are very friendly and genuinely want to help. We entered a bakery and started to ask for help from the cashier, but she spoke very little English. Feeling disheartened we started for the door when a man asked if he could help. He and his wife were very nice and helpful. Not only did they call the hostel and get directions for us, they walked us to our distention since we were not very far away.
Finding the hostel
Things were looking up the Koreans were very helpful and we had found our hostel. The good feeling lasted for all of five minutes…. When we entered the hostel (Mr.Kim’s Friends Guest House) we could tell we were in for a ride. When we entered the manager was not around, so we had to deal with the extremely hung-over/maybe drunk American guy that “kinda” worked there. He did not have much information and didn’t really know who we were or which room we should be in. After some time we got our room and put down our bags. We now had time to look around. There wasn’t much to see. The hostel is a place for people, mostly local expats, to crash after partying all night in Seoul. So needless to say many people were coming in and out at all hours. The first night the locals were broke so they decided to party at the hostel. They partied late into the night and with my I-pod blasting into my ears, I was still unable to drown out their music and laughter which kept me awake all night.
The next morning we wanted to explore Seoul! So we asked the only employee we could find. The hung-over/still drunk American had little or no information about Seoul. We were on our own but that is what traveling is all about. So we set out with a good attitude, little sleep and our Lonely Planet. We needed breakfast; it’s always a good idea to travel on a full stomach. One of the many things we ended up loving about Korea is the many bakeries they have everywhere. The Paris Baguette became our first stop almost every morning. It is a chain bakery that sells many tasty treats. After breakfast we made our way to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. We made it just in time to see the changing of the guards. This was just a show for the tourists, fake weapons, bright costumes, and loud drums make for touristy pictures and short videos. After living in China and traveling to many places (Forbidden City, etc.) this palace did not seem very impressive and looked very Chinese. The traditional Korean language is based on the traditional Chinese language so all the characters looked Chinese. After that we moved on…..
If you like what you have read let me know and I will continue the story! We eventually will make it to a Penis Park. Wink, wink…. So leave lots of comments and tell me what you think.
Miguel, The crazy American!
For pictures, check out GoYvon’s facebook page!