I arrived in Korea on Tuesday and my time in Seoul flew by! I got to hang out with my friend and her husband in Seoul and did quite a bit of running around and venturing out and shopping.
Monday/Tuesday: The Flight and Arrival
It was a long, boring 14 hour direct flight. I sat next to a large military American man and a small Vietnamese woman. I talked a lot with the man. Attempting to sleep on the plane was awful–about once an hour a child or baby (depending on which side of the plane the sound came from) would start crying. Also, the man’s arm was mostly in my sweet and was slowly crushing my arm which often resulted in my arm falling asleep. So I got a couple of catnaps, ate some not so great tasting food, and watched Shrek 4 (which was awesome!). I got in and through customs by 5pm. My friend met me at the airport, bought us each a bus ticket (which was about an 70-80 min ride) and then paid for a taxi cab (which was an unnecessary like 1.5 hour ride due to traffic). We got to her apartment around 8 or 830 pm, ate some food, watched some tv, and went to bed.
Wednesday: Very busy day
I was happy to find out that I could get on military base because I had my drivers license with me, so we met up with her husband and 2 of his friends for lunch. I ordered mini-burgers. After lunch, we went to a shoppette and bought some living essentials (shampoo, cereal, and shaving cream). We walked back to the apartment and then headed back out to the mall. An E-Mart was attached to the mall (like a Wal-Mart but 2 stories) and we each bought a pair of shoes. We crossed the parking garage to the I-Park Mall, where we had a long hunt for a flat iron and purse; luckily both were found after a couple hours of wandering. The mall was 6 floors. Purses were on every level..it was a matter of finding one. Electronics were on almost every level and we kind of stumbled upon the flat irons (woot!) The shops in-between the opposite ends of the mall ranged from underwear, skin care, restaurants, and some other little shops. We walked back to the apartment, took another shower, and then headed out for dinner to meet up with the same people again but this time at a little Italian shop. I walked MILES that day.
Thursday: the subway and the National Museum
This was my first day to ever navigate a subway system and I definitely did not do well. Luckily there were little help stations and I got through without too much problems. The National Museum was awesome, and free. I bought a folder and a spiral for souvenirs (under $5 or 5,000 won). There was an extra exhibit for the Greek mythology from a British Museum, which we paid for, and it was kind of a let down. The items were awesome, but it was crowded and no pictures were allowed. We got a little turned around/lost on the way back out of the subway and back to the apartment. We ended up on some back-road/alley type thing. We got to the mall and then navigated from there back to the apartment. (More miles on my shoes.) Dinner was at the apartment and I watched a movie that they really liked–it was Repo: The Genetic Opera (a rock musical). I liked it; I would compare it to Sweeney Todd for the twisted humor, the musical element, and dark elements as a whole.
Friday: an American part of Seoul (Itaewon) and another Mall adventure
After all the endless walking we seem to have done, and the horrible humidity of Friday, we didn’t stay out very long. We went back through the subway (this time with no issue) and went to Itaewon which was a more American part of Seoul (though with a Mexico kind of dangerous vibe). There were 2 or 3 Starbucks, a Taco Bell, a Subway, a Dominos, an Outback Steakhouse, and a closed down Hard Rock Cafe. I exchanged my currency there at one of the little exchange places, and then we decided to eat at Steff Hotdogs. They were yummy, though corn seemed to be the topping on almost all of the pictures. We got a cheesedog which was a long hotdog wrapped in a pretzel-like bun with cheese between the dog and bun. We bought matching pink Vans (a comfortable shoe) and then headed back to the apartment to meet up with her husband. For dinner, we met back up with one of the military people (the female) and we were going to watch Shrek 4 on base but the taxi did not arrive. So we walked to the mall to check out the movie theatre but no one was interested in a movie there. So we wandered around the mall and then decided to eat at a Japanese place on the 5th level of the mall. We three girls ordered Ramen; my friend’s husband ordered rice…I really need to get used to eating with chopsticks. After that, we walked the military friend off and then back to the apartment. I did laundry and then slept.
Saturday to today..and basically until Wednesday
My friend had to back to Japan on Saturday, so we left in the morning (back in a cab and then on a bus–this time it only took about 2 hours total). We said our goodbyes and the hotel and then I got on an escorted ride to my hotel room for the next couple of days. The room is small, it’s an older building, but it is clean, I have free (dial-up) internet, and cable tv. I can’t complain too much. I was at first worried about the area it was in, but after venturing around Saturday (for groceries) and today…it does seem safe. There are no little slum-like areas like there were in Seoul. Wednesday morning I get a free ride back to the airport and then I’m off to orientation. I must say that my 1st week in Korea went by quickly.