Weihai/Seoul: Voyage To Korea! (Part Two)

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» Weihai/Seoul: Voyage To Korea! (Part Two)
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Posted on: July 23rd, 2010

Here’s part two of my voyage to Korea, enjoy! πŸ™‚

The next thing on my mind was grabbing some food from the restaurant (suprise, suprise)! The restaurant looked just like a school canteen, I stood a little confused at the counter when she said something in Korean. Fortunately the Korean guy next to me spoke English and helped me order my food. I wasn’t expecting much but the food was actually really good! It was also my first experience of Korean food which was pretty cool. We had a Beef Kimchi Soup (Kimchi [κΉ€μΉ˜] is the most popular and well-known ofΒ  the food in Korea, a subtly sour and often slightly spicy fermented vegetable dish). The Korean guy who’d helped me order my food introduced himself as Frank Shaw (I assume that’s not his Korean name!!) and he commented on how shocked he was that an English person was on the Weidong ferry, which rarely sees anyone other than Korean and Chinese people.

After our meal, we grabbed a coffee from one of the machines (vending machine coffee is really popular in Korea and dotted all over the streets and in buildings according to Frank) and headed out on the deck to watch the boat leaving the port, by this time it was now dark.

You can hear Frank saying Zai Jian with me in the background! πŸ˜›

We had a conversation for about three hours on all sorts of things, from travel to study to language. It was pretty cool, but left me pretty exhausted by the end. He showed me where he was staying in economy, “Yep definitely made the right choice going for royal!” was the thought hat came to mind πŸ˜› I also showed off my room and then bid farewell.

I spent the rest of the night roaming the ship and seeing what was available on board. By the end of the night, the journey was starting to take its toll on me and I was feeling a little seasick so I decided to grab a few snacks from the on-board shop and head to bed. Although while I was in the shop the guy at the counter also expressed his shock that I was from the UK and another long conversation ensued! This worked in my favour though as now we’d gotten along I was able to convince him to change up my remaining 300 Yuan into Korean Won commission-free from what he had left in the counter. Bargain! πŸ˜‰

I was still seasick so I headed back to the room and went to bed (with Spartacus: Blood and Sand on in the background) πŸ˜›

The next morning I woke up around 9 (this was Korea time now, +8 instead of +7) and was suprised to find the boat had arrived in Incheon around 2 hours early! I rushed out to the deck to get some photos and video as we approached the port.

Ahh good, it's cloudy and misty here in Korea too! Where are you Sun?! πŸ™

Now the real struggle began, getting my luggage all the way from the ferry in Incheon to our hotel in Seoul!

The port at Incheon was almost empty, a huge contrast to the bustling port at Weihai. This was a relief for me as I didn’t want to have to push through huge crowds. Obviously I had no idea where to go from the port, so I asked a lady at a rent-a-phone booth. She was really helpful, she rung around to find out where in Seoul my hotel was and told me how to get to the metro and what stop to get off at. She even found me a map of Seoul and the metro! So first off I had to get to the nearest metro station. Unfortunately for me that meant dragging all my luggage across busy roads for about 10 minutes to the bus stop. Then I had to get the bus to the station, thankfully there was a speaker system on-board which announced where we were in Korean and English each time we stopped, so I knew when to get off! Finally, I had to drag everything down to the underground to get my ticket, and then back up to ground level where the trains were arriving!

It was a relief to be able to get on the train and sit down. Like the Beijing metro, it was meticulously clean and modern-looking (no TVs though :(). Little did I realise how long the metro journey was actually going to be! I knew Incheon was quite far out from Seoul, about the same distance as Gatwick from London, but the route took forever because there were so many stops! I think I counted 32 stops altogether, the journey took about an hour and a half. At least my legs got a good rest!

Having arrived at Dongdaemun Station (following the directions of the lady at the mobile booth) I emerged onto a busy main street with my first Seoul landmark in front of me; the Dongdaemun Gate!

Great to finally be in Seoul, but would be even better if I could find the hotel!!

After getting a some pictures and video of the gate, I was lucky enough to find an Korean lady with her English husband. They told me I’d gotten off at the wrong station! Not at all thrilled with the idea of having to back down into the metro again I was relieved to hear that getting a taxi would be pretty cheap from where I was. So I made my way, across the ridiculously busy road with my big brawling suitcases, to the taxi stop.

To my horror the taxi driver had no clue where this hotel was and told me to find another taxi, but having spent a couple of minutes chucking all my luggage into the back I wasn’t going to take no for an answer! So I pleaded with him to ring the hotel for directions. With an irritated “Aisshhh!” (it’s like saying FFS in Korean :P) he made the call and eventually we made it to the hotel. Along the way I was a little worried as we went through really slum-like backstreets and I was beginning to think we’d chosen a really bad hotel! Fortunately we arrived at a huge modern apartelle complex, so there was no need to worry!

I grabbed my key, headed up 6 floors, ran into my room and dived on the bed; finally! πŸ™‚ The whole place is really plush, the doors have magnetised locks and video intercom. The aircon is really effective too, the room quickly went from boiling to refreshingly cool. More importantly it’s nice and spacious and had more than enough room to stuff my huge luggage in the corner! Since I arrived here in the early afternoon I had lots of time to relax to some Korean radio and get this blog entry online πŸ™‚

In the early evening, I got in touch with Joon and he came to the hotel to meet up with me. It was great to see Joon again and now in Seoul! We sat outside the hotel and discussed where we could go and visit during the next few days. As we were about to go inside the hotel so that I could show Joon the room, my parents arrived at the hotel! It was a teary-eyed, emotional reunion (awww)! πŸ˜› After flying into Incheon airport from their long UK-Dubai-Incheon flight and getting a coach to Seoul, it seemed they had the same trouble I did finding the hotel! After the introductions; Joon, me and my parents finished up talking about what we’d do during our time in Seoul.

So Joon’s headed back home for now and we’re gonna get to bed pretty soon since it’s going to be a busy day tomorrow! Joon will be giving us a tour of Seoul, from Insadong Traditional Culture Street to Cheonggyecheon Stream to Gyeongbokgung Palace! Should be a good day, until then…再见!

…Whoops, I mean λ˜λ΄μš”! (‘see you after’ in Korean!)

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I'm a 21-year-old university student currently living in Oxford, UK. I love travelling and hope someday to move abroad permanently. The best part about travelling for me is having new experiences, soaking up all the culture and making new friends from around the world. As well as travel, I love music (live or otherwise), gaming and cinema.
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