Thursday, July 07, 2011

Seoul -- Day 1

Travels yesterday went smoothly. In fact, the flight from Narita to Incheon/Seoul arrived 20 minutes early, alleviating the small anxiety I had about missing the last airport bus to the part of downtown Seoul I needed to get to. The Incheon airport (ICN) isn't as great as its cracked up to be, in my estimation--passenger traffic flows off of aircraft, into the people-mover, and through immigration could be better designed. But we arrived, I was processed, I got my bag (eventually), and entered the country.

I exchanged money. I rented a cell phone. I found the kiosk to by the airport bus ticket. I found the bus stop. I had missed the bus by a couple of minutes, so I had to wait for almost half an hour for the next one, but it came on time and off we went. It was rainy and dark, so there wasn't much to see on the long ride into downtown, but after half an hour or so I had a sense of where I was, and recognized the stops on the route: Yonsei University, Ehwa Women's University, Kyongbok Gung, and finally my stop, AnGuk--just a block really from my hotel.

Getting settled into the room was a little bit of a hassle--long story that isn't worth going into--but eventually, near midnight--I was ready to sleep. And although I thought I was wide awake, I must have dropped off pretty fast, as I don't remember anything until about 6AM local time (which is 13 hours ahead of the US East Coast).

Checked email--internet in the room works just fine--made coffee, headed down to breakfast where, as I expected, I ran into Jon, the "leader" of this trip. So we had a nice chat.

And soon I'll be off for a little exploration, on a day that promises to be rainy. I'm definitely going to the new (to me) National Museum, which will involve travel on the amazing Seoul subway, the map of which I've posted here. You can get just about anywhere on the subway. And then we'll see what else I can fit into the day.


bzobell said...

When you talked about Jon, I started to think you were on a tour. Are you? The thing I like about those--if they aren't too tightly structured--is that you get to hear a lot of interesting history about the place.

McKenna Donovan said...

I hope you are able to blog a day-by-day set of entries. It's fun, even when there's supposedly "nothing worth while." I'm glad you're there, safe and sound. Report on jet lag, please -- about Day 3 is the worst, as I remember it.

Clifford Garstang said...

Bonnie, it's not a tour, exactly. This is a "revisit" for former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Korea, hosted by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They've arranged a number of events for us--there are 40 on this trip, including family members of some former volunteers--but not your typical tourist stuff: briefings by the Education and Health ministries, visits to our former service sites, a reception with the US ambassador, etc. The other stuff I have to do on my own, although mostly it's stuff I've done before.

McKenna, yes the jet lag is a drag. It's 4:30 pm local time on the first day--I've been going strong all day, but just hit a wall.