I promised you a longer, more detailed post on my Korea trip, and here it is…
We arrived at the airport early Monday morning, ready to catch our Asiana flight to Korea. It was a 10.5 hour flight, which quickly got old. I passed most of the time snoozing and listening to my iPod. I did spend a bit of time wondering what to do my upcoming meditation on, but I wasn’t sure what to expect so I didn’t do too much work.
We arrived at Incheon airport in Seoul uneventfully. The temperature was -4 degrees outside, which seemed extraordinarly cold compared to what we had been experiencing (30 to 35 degree days). Still, it was pleasantly warm inside the airport. Customs was a breeze too, they didn’t seem to check anything really, apart from the obvious passport stamping and collecting our customs declarations forms.
The only odd thing that happened at customs was that the snowboard bags had to be scanned in a large xray machine, before James and Stephen were allowed to exit customs. The bags were brought out by a couple of Korean guys wielding forms, not on the luggage carousel like everything else.
Having got through customs, our next task was to work out how to catch a limousine (taxi) to the train station near Somang’s place. We were pleasantly surprised to discover Somang grinning widely just after we walked through the door. With Somang’s help, we caught a bus from the airport to the train station where her father and uncle (?) would pick us up in their car, and take us to the apartment where Somang lived.
The bus trip lasted about an hour, and revealed the enormous difference between Seoul and Sydney. So many shops – shops everywhere. Big shops, little shops. There was one nearly universal commonality though – animated signs. From neon to enormous full colour led screens, nearly all the shops had something designed to attract attention.
Not only were there multitudes of shops, there were loads of apartment buildings. Groups of enormous apartment buildings occurred frequently. Some bus stops were even specifically for an apartment complex. The announcements on the bus were first in Korean, then repeated in English – quite useful really.
It was fortunate both Somang’s father and uncle had their cars – we filled up one car with luggage and piled in the other car. After arrived at Somang’s apartment, she told us it was actually her birthday that day. She’d bought a delicious birthday cake, which we decorated with candles and devoured (removing said candles, of course). It was about this point that we discovered Korean beds consist of a thin mattress on the floor. It’s been an interesting experience sleeping like this. We went to bed pretty early, since we had to leave at 6:30am the next morning.
Travelling to the ski camp was another fascinating experience. It was still dark outside when we walked to the train station. We caught three different trains to get to the bus stop, with frantic changes between the trains. The first change, we were a bit slow getting off the train. Somang had to prevent the doors from closing with her bag, so we could get on. The next change was onto a packed train, so we had to squeeze on. But finally we made it to the bus stop. From this point we caught two busses to get to the ski resort, Yong Pyong.
I think I’ll leave the events at the ski camp for another post.