Dec 27th/28th – Depart Singapore for Seoul, South Korea.
I spend the last half day by having lunch with my friends at Cosafe, before taking Korean Air flight KE642 to Seoul Gimpo Airport. This would be the start of the trip to uncharted territory, no one in my family has ever been to Korea, and so the mission to the unknown had started. I had no language skills at all in Korean, nor had any real idea of what I should be seeing in Seoul, but with only a day and a half, the time was seriously limited from the start. The other problem, was that I had steadily become more ill over the last 2 days, and already sounded pretty rough from the cold I had, but the temperature drop in Seoul made matters worse, and I was unfortunately forced to take the hotel up on an early check in charge, and get a nice bed for the morning arrival. Not so bad when considering my flight arrived at 06:00 local time, and having no sleep on the flight, I was pretty much walking dead following the hour transfer to the hotel.
Above: Some random shots of Seoul.
I did venture out that night however, and after a brief encounter with a Korea cash machine / ATM where by we had a disagreement on exactly how much won I wanted to withdraw, (500,000 instead of 100,000) I made my way to the area frequented by foreign tourists. I must say that this particular area was not an enjoyable experience, I am sure the Korean people are a wonderful and kind people, however this area is clearly a “pull every cent you can from anything which walks in” kinda place, and it dosnt matter where your from, “welcome American, beer only $5.99 here!” I appreciate that being white makes me look like an American, however after explaining where I’m from they could have refrained from giving me all the prices in US $, as no offence, but to an Englishman, this is somewhat useless, and KRW was more useful a currency to me.
The worst part however, was the trip back in a taxi, having simply assumed I could get a taxi back having arrived via one, I was quite alarmed to discover many taxis would simply refuse the fair, either claiming no knowledge of the place – even with directions and a map in Korean, and others simply not being interested. After about 30 minutes, one taxi finally did attempt the trip, and got me on the same street as my hotel.
Dec 29th – Seoul to Haneda, Tokyo.
I maybe being unfair to Seoul when I say this, but for me, this was really not a very inviting place, and to be honest, I really did not enjoy my time there. The next morning I made my way to the airport a bit early, and was quite eagerly awaiting my flight to Haneda, Tokyo.
Above: Seoul Gimpo Airport, Christmas tree and Cinema – yes a cinema in the airport!