K-Pop, K-drama, K-stars… K-heaven. I would not consider myself as a FAN of anything, but I have to admit… I enjoy K-music as well as K-movie/dramas. So a trip to South Korea (SK) was always on my bucket list which was finally fullfilled February this year.. yay.. winter.. yay.. cold… yay.. I don’t even care 😀
Of course everyone knows that movies or dramas or those handsome slash beautiful public figures are not the norm and of course the life is fictive.. but it was still very much of my interest to know how the society is, how the people are, how the culture is. Especially, since I adore korean food. yummmm ~
Lucky me, I have an amazing friend, my best friend and soulmate since 20 years, who adores a trip to SK as much as I do. So there we were, meeting each other on the 9th of Feb at Incheon Airport, in South Korea. It was a pain to find an affordable flight for both D. and me which should arrive more or less the same time, so none of us has to wait too long for the other. Mine was at 2:50 am from SGN and we both arrived in ICN at 9:30am KST.
Incheon Airport (ICN) is danggg huge! You prolly can spend a whole day just enjoying the airport facilities. The train connection from ICN to the city center was really comfortable and accessible. The train was spacious, not too crowded and rather quiet. Although our Airbnb flat was not too far from Hongdae, we did not see many foreigners (westerns) in general. Not sure if that was the reason, why people were starring at us, or if the reason was our combination of a very white blond girl with a little ginger headed asian… or maybe both.
As if the excitement of SK was not enough, our flat had a spectacular view to the mountains on the right and to the Han River on the left… what else do you need, if you can wake up just with mountains and sunshine greeting you? Jaw-dropping moments solely !
As D. did not rest much due to the long flight, we decided not to do any big sightseeings, but rather go to Hanpark. We took line 5 to Gongdeok then change to line 6 to Hapjeong; from where we walked crossing the Yanghwa bridge. It was freaking windy, our noses were frozen and I could barely feel my fingers. During the summer, this part shall be super beautiful with a 15km long circuit bike path and sport possibilities. Somewhere along the walk we did question, if we were allowed to cross the brigde, as it was empty and the cars were passing by rather high-speeded…uhm…
At the end of the freezing walk, we had to find a cafe to warm us up. There were so many cafe around, we had no clue which one was good, so we chosed which ever caught our attention: we ended up having a rainbow layer crepe cake, which was too sweet, and a cafe mocha. The good thing about Seoul is, you can find grocerie stores (and make up stores) everywhere. Even beneath our apartment complex was a small shop, where we could get some vegetable, meat and microwave rice. YES, microwave rice. I saw them in K-dramas and wanted to try them.. to my surprise they were actually really good :-).
Though my Korean was very rusty, I could understand parts and rhymed up the context.. and the ability to read Hangeul helped as well throughout the trip.
Our first day ended wonderfully with a beautiful sunset at the Han River. Seoul… I fell for you, hard.
One of the things that impressed me was the cleaniness of Seoul’s underground stations. Surely not all are clean, but in comparison to the ones in Berlin… hell… Seoul was shineee :-). We rarely met anyone cleaning during our trip, yet there were no trash on the floor, no homeless sleeping in the Metro stations.
In addition, the TV-screen in the metro stations were showing informative videos in a loop. Either they showed how to behave if the train is stuck, how to use gas-masks, how to first aid or how to behave(!) in public transportations. The fact that it is repeatedly aired will penetrate to the passengers mind. Kids will see it continuously.. you were literally bombarded with those informations.
One thing that bugs me lots in Berlin is the behaviour on train platforms. In Seoul the platforms were full with indicators, where to stand to get into the train, where to leave free for people to get out – yes ppl from Berlin.. you won’t die if you are not the first person to get into the train or not having a seat !!! What did our kindergarden teacher teach us? First let the people get out, then you can get in. No need to stand right infront of the door, because that would not help anyone. Also there were indicators where older or impaired people shall stand, because those special seats will be nearly located once they enter.