After 11 beautiful days in Japan, my next stop was Seoul.
My journey started at Narita International Airport.
Hmm, on second thought, my journey to Korea actually started months ago.
When I finally decided to quit my job, I was relieved of some responsibilities at work. I was freed from my Duty Officer role and wasn’t expected to be on stand-by at all times. My brain began to relax and my nights became quiet.
One night I reluctantly watched one episode of a Korean Drama series. That got me hooked! A few days later, I had dark circles under my eyes, I started bowing my head in gratitude and started calling my workmates “oppa” in my head. I know that the Hallyu phenomenon (Korean wave) kicked off years ago, but I was too busy being a hard-working and responsible person. 😛
Now I totally understand the craze and I am its newest recruit.
Living in the Middle East and being immersed in a totally different culture, K-drama reminded me again of the unique practices and values that Asians should be proud of.
I applied for my visa before my resignation, hoping I’d be able to visit the country before the year ended. The Korean Embassy in Abu Dhabi was the best embassy I’ve seen so far in the UAE. Their facility is modern, spacious and bright. Also, it only took 2 days for my visa to be processed (the cost is free for Filipinos).
I’ve heard that if it’s not a busy season, you can even claim your visa after a day.
2 months later, I was at the airport bound for Seoul…
After consistently flying with Etihad Airways for the past 6 years, I was excited to experience the service on other airlines.
Waiting to board Eastar Jet…
Groggy, sleepless and half-sick.
Upon boarding, I felt a strange kind of awe when I heard the Koreans around me talk to each other. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been watching their dramas on screen for so long, then you suddenly see and hear live conversations happening in front of you. Haha.
Slowly getting used to flying Economy Class. It was a 2-hour travel, in an extra legroom seat, on an almost empty flight. Still a luxury, I think.
I paid extra for this chicken salad. It was surprisingly tasty.
I originally planned to stay for 4 days only. I ended up extending my trip for 10 days more.
The city at night.
Touchdown at Incheon International Airport.
I arrived at midnight and was surprised at how easy the transport was from the airport.
The Airport Railroad Express (A’REX) is a South Korean commuter rail line that links Seoul with Gimpo Airport and Incheon International Airport.
On this same line is the Hongik University Station, where my guesthouse is located.
The ticket machines were easy to understand. Thanks to the visuals and English translations.
The train was wide and had space for luggages.
Being half asleep, I didn’t notice I sat on the priority seats for the pregnant/elderly/disabled. Good thing it was the last trip, the train wasn’t full and no one gave me a stern scolding.
I’m glad the guesthouse owner came to pick me up from the station. As soon as I came out of the subway, the cold wind hugged me to death. I literally stood there frozen for a few minutes. Hello, zero degrees celsius (0°C)! I came from the desert, so forgive my sensitive skin :p
I finally reached the guesthouse at around 1 AM.
I landed on my warm bed and my last thought for that night was to say thank you to the heater inside the room.