North Seoul Tower from Itaweon
When I arrived in Seoul, Thaddeus had already been there for a few weeks getting settled with his job. I flew from Boston to San Francisco and then into Incheon International Airport. I have to say that the flight itself was not bad. My secret is that when I boarded the plane in San Francisco I took Tylenol PM.I slept the entirety of my flight, only waking up for meals and to do a lap around the plane every now and again. (Got to make sure you don’t get blood clots!) For this reason I never experienced jet lag even though there is a 13-hour time difference from here and the east coast. I highly recommend doing this if you are ever faced with 20 hours of travel! I also took Tylenol PM my first two nights in Seoul to make sure I got a good full night sleep. This seemed to also help. So take my advice and you will be running around the city in no time!
The customs process was a breeze. Even though I only had a one-way ticket, and had not yet gotten my visa, there were no problems. I did however have to wait about an hour for my bags. I am pretty sure they were the last ones to come out of the plane. When I finally got them, Thaddeus was waiting for me outside of customs.He was very relieved to see me after the hour delay! Incheon Airport has gotten awards for being the best airport in the world for the last six years. When we were leaving, a culture dance show was going on. Other than that, I did not utilize much of this airport’s many sophisticated services.
Getting from Incheon to the center of Seoul is very simple. It is 43 mins on a direct train and costs around $8.00. The train is an express and goes directly from the airport to Seoul Station where you can link up to the subway and get almost anywhere in Seoul from there. A normal subway ride costs about a dollar per trip.
Thaddeus was full of information about the country immediately and filled me in on lots of details during our hour train ride. As you’ll learn Thad is always full of facts and great at navigating. This makes for an excellent travel companion. There is not too much to see outside on the ride into Seoul, and about half of it is spent in tunnels.
I can’t lie. I was a little nervous, coming to Seoul, that I would experience culture shock and feel overwhelmed.However, I have not experienced this at all. The city is very clean, people are generally friendly and there is information in English in most places. This made for a rather easy transition. Although Seoul is bigger then New York in size it is a relatively well planned city. Buildings are spread out and there is greenery throughout the city. My first impressions, just on our short subway ride, were all good. Each train and station was clean and well decorated and all are equipped with doors that only open when the train is there making it very safe. Everything is very modern and integrates the most advanced technology available. Every subway car has WiFi so you can use the Internet while underground. Each subway station is also equipped with gas masks. I noticed this immediately after getting off the train. South Korea is very well prepared should any conflicts ever occur.
Gas Masks in a subway terminal
The Grand Hyatt Hotel from Namsan Park
Thaddeus had already gotten our apartment before my arrival. It is in a district called Itaewon. Itaewon is known as the international district. The streets are lined with international and Korean restaurants and stores alike. Streets are bustling with people from all around the world. I feel like it will make for a really fun place to live! We are located about a two-minute walk from the main Itaewon drag on a quiet side street. Up the street from us are many of the ambassadors’ homes, and the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Right across from there is Namsan Park. It is a very beautiful park full of walking paths, great views, rivers, flowers and exercise equipment. Our neighborhood resembles the topography of San Fransisco with its houses built into a very steep hill. Upon getting settled, Thaddeus took me to explore Namsan park. It was a great way to see an overview of part of the city, and one of the most beautiful parts ive been to!
Our apartment is wonderful and I am very excited to live there. The location we are situated in seems great. I’ll leave the details about the inside of our apartment for the brave people that actually pay us a visit here! Some things have to remain offline right?
One of the main streets in Itaweon
After going to the park, Thaddeus and I headed down to the main part of Itaewon for dinner. There are so many restaurants in our area alone (never mind the rest of Seoul) that it makes for a food lovers’ paradise. We opted for a traditional Korean restaurant. As we walked inside, we had to immediately take our shoes off and then sit on the floor on a cushion at a low-lying table. For dinner I had vegetables, rice and an egg (dol bibimbap) in a stone dish that cooked the meal in front of my very eyes. Thaddeus had a traditional pancake with octopus inside. The meal was served with a variety of kimchi. It was a fun first dinner! Thaddeus and I LOVE Asian food so my excitement for living here grew even more when imaging the future dining experiences we’d encounter. After dinner, however, we were off to bed. Thaddeus had a fun filled weekend planned for us!