All work and no play makes a life dull, they say. In a successful attempt to chop off monotony in our lives, a friend and I decided to visit Seoul last October.
Our plane landed at Incheon International Airport at 6:15 am.
Incheon International airport is said to be one of the world’s best airports.
The air hostess promptly told us that there is a one-hour difference in Korea and Manila, Manila being one-hour behind. Although we both craved for sleep, Hannah and I excitedly got off the plane as she told stories of her favorite Korean actors. She knew a lot of them being an avid fan of Korean dramas. I knew less as I have only seen a few of them. Nevertheless, I felt excited too whenever she pointed to pictures of Korean actors from the airport and throughout the whole trip.
Our first meal in Korea consisted of egg muffins and coffee. Ironically, we dined at Mc Donald’s in the airport as it is the most convenient thing to do. We were both starving from the nearly four hour plane ride and the trip to the city would be at least 45 minutes more.
Seoul’s version of this American chain has conveniently included a calorie counter in its menu display. If we have the same chart in our country, I think people would somehow think twice in ordering large servings of fried foods and soda .
After breakfast, we dropped off our suitcases at Beewon guest house in Wooni dong, Jong-ro gu where we stayed throughout the week. Insufficiency in sleep and fatigue did not drown our excitement so after a few minutes at the guest house, spent mainly on waiting for the lady in the counter and going to the restroom, we were off to our first glimpse of the country’s history at Gyeongbokgung Palace which is a 30-minute walk from the guest house.
According to a booklet I gathered from the guest house, Gyeongbokgung means ‘a palace made to bless the sky’.
“Six hundred years ago, the founder and first king of Joseon dynasty, Yi Seong-gye decided to build the first royal palace named ‘Gyeongbokgung’. Each stone and pillar was chosen and designed carefully under strict regulations,” the booklet said.
Tourists taking a peep at the rooms reserved for concubines
Everyday, my friend Hannah and I walked the streets and rode the subway to get to the tourist sites that we have both agreed to visit. Quoting Forrest Gump and twisting it a little: “Our trip was like a box of chocolates. We’ll never know where we’ll end up.”
Not that we didn’t have a daily itinerary. We did. But when we got to Seoul and we reached the places we wanted to see, we realized that there were other sites that were worth visiting and they were very close to where we were so there were days when our list of two tourist sites would bulge to four and sometimes, five. Also, Korea’s subway is very efficient and travel does not each much of our time so we were able to shuttle here and there in no time.
On our fourth day, Lotte World was first on our list. But when we consulted Hannah’s lonely planet Korea, it said Han gang park (where we could get a good view of the famous Han river) was within the area. In fact, it looked like it was but a short distance from the Lotte world. Well, it was not as near as we thought it would be. Suffice it to say, Hannah gave occasional hints of giving up. Our feet were aching from long walks and we were tired from four days of walking. But I voted no against giving up. I reminded her that quitters never win. It wasn’t hard to convince Hannah as she possesses a very positive and engaging personality.
Yes! I’m a kid again at Lotte world! ^-^
And now we’re off to Han gang park…
(To be continued)