Seoul Part I


Language  Korean
Currency  Won (KRW)
Airport  Incheon International
Time difference from Los Angeles  +16 hours


I landed
Airport early
Friday Evening,
the plane
hitting the ground
as the last
hues of orange
the night.

I glanced out my window - Korean characters covered the landing strip, the foreign language a sight for eyes that have been longing to travel. Static played overhead in the cabin, followed by the pilot announcing a few sentences in Korean. Translated to English: “Welcome to Korea, ladies and gentlemen.”

Korea was my first stop in my two-week tour of Asia. I had never travelled outside of the Philippines on this side of the world and it had been almost two years since I had left the country. My nine hour flight from Honolulu to Incheon felt like days - not because of the cramped seating but because I was anxious for my legs to take strides in a brand new city. 

Oh, did I mention my trip consisted of hitting four countries in two weeks? I had only four nights and four days to conquer Seoul. 

Paul and Kristine were my travel buddies. We all flew into Incheon from different parts of California and coordinated our flights to arrive roughly at the same time. John, who was currently staying in South Korea, had just finished a three-month long race from London to Mongolia. Last time we were all together was roughly a year ago, cramped in ten-seater van (filled with twelve people) as we ran a two-day, 300 mile relay race from Huntington Beach to San Diego. As memorable as that experience was, I was glad that this time around, we’d be enjoying the views rather than running past them.

Our home in Korea was in Dongbaek, an area within the city of Yongin, approximately a two-hour bus ride from Incheon or a one-hour bus ride south of Seoul. We filled up our Cashbee cards with 10,000 KRW (roughly 10 USD) and lined up at the shuttle area. During the trip, many of the passengers fell asleep but my eyes were glued to the window. I was used to the yellow-orange glow of street lamps at night as I drove in my car, but now pops of neon red, yellow, blue and green illuminated many areas we drove by. The buildings were massive and so densely packed, all towering next to each other like trees in a rainforest. 

We arrived at our stopped and dragged our luggage down the streets, past several lively complexes and food stands - where we stopped and ordered oden (boiled fish cake) - and finally up the elevator to our home for the next few nights. After a warm Korean welcome from John’s parents, we sat in the living room and planned our Seoul adventure.

And the morning view from the balcony though.. the view!


Day 2 | Sunday

Ssmaziegil Mall
Bukchon Hanok Village
Samcheongdong-gil Road

Day 1 | Saturday

Sinsadong Garosu-gil

Day 4 | Tuesday

Back to Incheon Airport

Day 3 | Monday

Myeong-dong Shopping District
Namsan Tower