Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seoul - Day 1

Couldn't believe that I was on my way to Seoul, Korea. Had been waiting for that moment for at least 8 months and wanted to get away from the stagnant life in Malaysia, it was a little miracle for me to be there. The flight was impressive, even it was a budget airline, at least it met all my expectations, there was nothing to complain about, other than a weird Indonesian guy sitting next to me... Anyway, the flight landed in Seoul after almost 7 hours, and I was so excited and impressed by the wonderfully built Incheon airport. Everything was smooth from leaving the aircraft to getting through immigration, I got a my luggage and my Seoul adventure begins.

First mission of the day: to buy a T-money card and hop on the right train to Seoul downtown. There were many other solo travelers like me and were confused on buying the train ticket, but in my heart I was glad that fortunately I did some homework beforehand, I went to the convenience store and bought a T-money card. Usage of Korean language failed, but English was not a problem. It was my first real(?) contact with Korean, with the cashier.

After checking with the information counter on how to get to the airport rail (AREX), I walked towards the train station according to a mix of her information and my instinct. First excitement: the AREX train station is exactly the place where Runningman (my favourite Korean game show) was filmed! I was standing at the place (where the escalator and lift were) where the Runningmen were chasing each other. XD Because I was carrying my baggage and some many things, I couldn't be bother to take out my camera and capture the site, but I was a bit worried on whether I will catch the right train on time and reach my destination.

The train arrived and there were not many people in the carriage. I sat down with my suitcase lying in front of me. After making sure that I was in the right train, and counting on how many stops before I need to leave and transit to another train, I secretly observed the Koreans around me. I was just sitting there, and pretending that I was part of them. Most of them were businessmen wearing suits or family. That's the joy of taking subways and trains, it made me feel included like I was one of them...

I got down at the Hongdae station because I need to change to subway line 2 to Chungjeongno. The moment I stepped out from the train I felt the cold. In the train was much warmer than I thought and because I wore so many layers I felt stuffy but outside I could feel the cold immediately. The unexpected cold made me stopped and put on more layers, before I followed the crowd to walk towards the platform for subway line 2. The demography for subway was very different than the airport train. I felt awkward with my suitcase because most of the people in the subway were youngsters and students with their trendiest outlooks. Subway line 2 passes through Hongik University, Sinchon and Ewha University where most youngsters and students are populated. The train was much more crowded than the airport train, and the lesser usage of English made me realised that I was at a completely strange place.

I got out from the train, got confused with the exit (as I came out from the wrong exit due to the elevator), almost got lost but finally reached Bangrang Hostel. There were no one at the hostel, but only a note from the hostel manager. My phone was unable to roam, as I was panicking if I should call the manager at 11:30pm, I decided to use hostel phone to ring him up... The manager finally turned up and settled my payment and my room, everything was good. I liked the hostel, the interior set up and the numbered security lock. I met Kayo, a Japanese girl, my first roommate, first friend I met in Seoul. We chatted for a long time and we got really excited to know each other. We decided to meet up for dinner the day after.

First impression of Seoul was great, all the people that I encountered seem nice and friendly, I was looking forward to journey in Seoul...