For about a week or so, I’d be playing travel guide to my girlfriend’s little sister on her first trip to Korea. Well actually, her first trip out of Korea. It was a chance for blogging that I couldn’t pass up but at the same time, it’d be a chance to see parts of Korea I haven’t been to yet.
Day 1: The Airport
I tried to do two things.
First I tried to remember what it was like when I first landed in Incheon Airport a year and a half ago. I got through Customs easily enough, stood in line with all the other foreigners while I watched the native Korean citizens pass through a much (much) shorter line. I picked up my baggage while following signs that were helpfully printed in several languages (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese) which eventually led me to the exit.
This time I got the airport early, made my way to the Departures terminal where I visited one of the only Jamba Juice locations in Korea. I made leisurely stroll around the terminal, checking out the stores and shops, until I made my way down to the Arrivals terminal. I waited forty minutes for my guest to get off her plane, get through customs and follow the same signs I had to the exit.
It wasn’t exactly a joyous reunion and I couldn’t blame her. Imagine your sister’s boyfriend picking you up from the airport on your first trip out of the country. You don’t know each other very well, aren’t very close in age and have met one another a handful of times… enough to know that you don’t have much in common. Talk about uncomfortable.
But we made the best of it, I guess. She was nervous and more than a little excited and I was happy to be helping out. Eventually we found some common ground, she had been on a 12 hour flight with a 3 hour lay over in Japan while I hadn’t slept in two days. We were tired. Very tired. We made a quick stop at the restrooms and were on our way.
She’d see more of the airport terminals and shops when she departs in a week so I took her through the underground to the atrium.
When I first saw the architecture of the atrium, I was impressed. From the look on her face, I could see that she was too. We’d talk about it later, how LAX is still under construction and how impressive Incheon looked in comparison… and clean, very clean. I showed her the jjimjil-bang in the basement of the main airport. A great place to take a nap and relax if you have an overnight layover and if you get stuck at the airport until morning.
It only took minutes but eventually we found ourselves in front of the ticket vending machines getting one-way passes out of the airport.
We could either take a taxi (expensive), bus/airport bus (cheaper) or take the subway
(cheapest) out of the airport. The airport shuttles will take you to a variety of places including hotels and bus terminals but they’re usually around 7,000 won (~$7). The subway will take you to Kimpo Airport then to Seoul station (along with a few stops on the way) and run you 1,500 Won (~$1).A taxi can run anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 won and up depending on where you want to go. Unless you’re in a group, I’d suggest taking one of the other modes of transport.
The fastest way anywhere is a taxi, but honestly depending on traffic, road condition and price you might be better off on a bus or on the subway. Plus taxis in Korea are quite possible one of the scariest things ever. Red lights, turning signals and even lanes on highways don’t seem to matter to some drivers. I wasn’t sure if my guest would be up for it so we took a train out. The airport subway is one of the cleanest trains in Seoul, also one of the least used. So getting a seat isn’t difficult and neither if finding a spot for your luggage.
We sat down, settled in a got comfortable. I could tell right off the bat she was a little dazed by everything I had shown her which up to that point was just the subway terminal and the airport. She commented on the weather (humid), the cleanliness of the subway (spotless), and whatever small talk I could think up. But honestly there wasn’t much to say, I could tell from her expression that she was tired and, with the adrenaline of being in a new country wearing off, getting more tired by the minute. Since it was already dark outside, there wasn’t much to look at and combined with how tired I was, I found myself dozing off.
By the time I had dropped her off, she was falling asleep while sitting up. I couldn’t blame her, I fell asleep myself while I was heading home. Her sister would take her out tomorrow, and I’d head to work. I’d join them on Thursday after I made a quick stop at work to drop off a few documents and start the weekend early. I was curious as to how this would all turn out but honestly, none of that was in mind when I got home and passed out on the bed.