So,…to begin with, 16 hours on a plane (with a 3 hour layover in Dubai) is not as fun as one might have first thought - there’s only so many travel escalators you can ride before it isn’t fun anymore! However, despite all my preconceived misconceptions about them, in-flight meals really aren’t that bad! And being able to play an endless amount of rounds of Tetris and Connect definitely helps to pass the time. But, needless to say, the minute we began the descent into Incheon airport, any tiredness that had began to pull at our bodies, in response to the 24+ hours of being awake, immediately vanished upon looking out of the window and seeing our home for the next almost 3 weeks: Seoul! There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing the reality of a dream you’d been dreaming for 3+ years. Yet, the second we sat on the KTX to make our way to our airb’n’b, and we began to see the landscape of South Korea fly past us outside, we ended up sitting in near silence in our astonishment that we’d actually just flown half way across the world to temporary live a life that had always seemed so out of reach. Stepping off of the metro and emerging from Hyochang park station onto the street was even more overwhelming.
Now, if you ever find yourself making the dream trip to South Korea, and you find you get anxiety about not knowing where to go, how to get places, how to speak to people, etc, etc… DONT! ‘Cause let me tell you, we were stood
pondering our screenshot of google maps looking like your standard confused foreigners at the exit to the station for all of 3 minutes, before a woman (and her adorable dog) approached us, and asked in English (bless her soul) if we needed help getting somewhere! From there it took us around 10 minutes of walking before we rocked up at our officetel, completely haggard and with our clothes sticking to us where we’d been wearing them for so long. Then, almost immediately, we had to venture to the nearest convenience store to grab water and food, which despite our initial shyness was a walk in the park with how tired we were. And even though we hadn’t even begun to think about the language barrier in those kind of situations, the cashier looked just as done for the day as we were, and therefore purchasing our water and ramyeon went by with a simple ‘kamsamnida’, before we made our way back to our little home away from home, only just making it through the door before collapsing.
Although it was raining, the coloured roads and the enthusiastic business promotions shone as brightly as if the sun was shining, and the smells of gochujang, bbq, and pizza made our mouths water with every restaurant we passed. Despite Ju’s enthusiasm to find food immediately, after she put me on chief duty to find a place to eat, we ended up walking round for a while (2 hours!*), taking in the sight of each street and surveying the area; pretty much immersing ourselves in being here, before we ended up deciding to venture into a ‘foreign food store’ on the search for some teabags - which any British person will know, is an essential part of living, especially in the case of Ju, who, fyi, makes the best cup of tea in the world! After grabbing the essentials, it was finally an acceptable time to eat, since we’d arrived at Itaewon between mealtimes, and so we headed towards what looked like a full on ‘foodie street’, and proceeded to do the traditional foreigner thing of heading into the first obviously Korean restaurant we saw.
For all of you suffering from Wanderlust, but too scared to make the trip to Korea - or even to anywhere that speaks a different language - top tip number 1 would be; a language barrier is only a barrier when you see it as one. Now, I’m not going to say I wasn’t scared shitless upon entering a restaurant in a foreign country for the first time, because lets be honest, I was crapping myself, but all you have to remember is businesses are just glad to have business (it keeps people fed and with roofs over their heads). So, the second I climb the stairs to the 1st floor restaurant and I catch the eye of the waitresses sat chatting in the corner of the empty room, I’m immediately ready to turn back. However, the second they see two people with hunger in their eyes, and who were obviously foreign, they waste no time in gesturing us in and after we greeted one another and asked for a table, they showed us politely in, providing us with water and menus immediately. Given that we were hungry, it didn’t take us long to order a serving of bibimbap and Kimchi stew, and within 10 minutes? it was steaming away in front of us, accompanied by a couple of side dishes and a kind smile. Now, i don’t know about anyone else, but from the first minute i learned about the incredible taste of Korean food, i immediately began experimenting with recipes and ingredients in an attempt to create the same taste back in England…However, none of my culinary escapades had ever prepared me for the taste of genuine Korean kimchi stew. It wasthe BEST first meal I could have hoped for! Afterwards we had to sit for around 20 minutes just to digest the food - although it also gave us time to take in the view of the aesthetic green roofs and the beautiful decor of Itaewon. Of course, as it was our first meal, we then had to go through the awkwardness of trying to call for the bill, which after looking up the translation so that my faulty memory filled with various Korean phrases didn’t offend anyone, simply involved politely gesturing to a waitress who showed me to the counter, before we were thanking the employees and were on our way. (Top Tip number 2: I’d like to remind anyone who plans on visiting South Korea and gets as overwhelmed as I do, that when you hand over money at the till (or just when you’re handling things in general), get that goddamn spare hand on your forearm! Manners Maketh Man, people!) Other than visiting the convenience store once again to grab some foods for the evening, including the essentials (banana milk, HELLO! O.O), and watching dramas, music shows, and ‘Return of superman’ (*and edit a video) for the rest of the evening to try and scrap jet-lag for good, that’s pretty much all for our journey so far.
We have so much planned for this journey, but we also want to use it as a chance to experience properly living in the country, so there will be times when it seems like we’re cramming everything into one day, and times when it will appear as though we’ve done absolute nothing, but to be honest, that sounds like the perfect plan to us! So, for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little (jokes) summary of our past 48 hours, and I’ll catch you up with more of our adventure in Seoul in the next blog post! ^^ If you have any questions about anything to do with travelling to Seoul and being here in itself; communication, booking things, culture, experience, ANYTHING, just hit up our ask box, and we’ll be more than glad to give you as much of an answer as we are able! :)
After a good five hours of being cramped in the Impala, Dean decided to pull over to one of the many rest stops that lined the highway. This spot was simple, just a little picnic table surrounded by trees. As soon as the car stopped you and Sam hopped out, both eager to stretch your legs.
“Are we almost there at least?” you asked as you paced back and forth.
“Still have about 3 more hours,” Dean answered from inside the car as he searched for a radio station he liked.
“Ugh,” you and Sam groaned in unison.
“It won’t be that bad,” he said as he emerged from the car.
“Hey you wanna grab something to eat in the next town over? I don’t know about you two but I’m starving,” Sam said as he looked between you and Dean.
“Sounds like a plan Sammy,” you said as you pulled Dean in front of you to block the setting sun’s rays from shining in your eyes. Sam nodded and went in the car in search of his wallet. It should have been in his jacket but it was missing. After searching all throughout the car, he gave up.
“Guys, I can’t find my wallet,” he said, interrupting yours and Dean’s Thumb War game.