First Long Haul Flight, Korean Immigration, Finding the Hotel
I am now blogging from Korea! It feels so surreal to be here. I must admit, this country will take a lot of getting used to. The smells, the heat. the food, the language. It's nice so far. We decided not to do much sightseeing in Seoul as we're far too tired. Jetlag is pretty awful. We're here for a year, so there's going to be plenty of time to revisit. We're only in Seoul as a resting stop as we will be venturing around 3 hours to Gangneung tomorrow.
So I went on my first long haul flight. I said a teary goodbye to my mum at the airport. We got through security pretty quick, usually there are huge queues.
The flight wasn't too bad, I did cry a little during take off but other than that it was perfectly fine.
It was pretty hard to sleep though as I was wedged between David and a boy, so watched movies for 7 1/2 hours.
We then had a 3 hour lay-over in Dubai. Dubai airport is fantastic. It's so beautiful and big. The plane to security took 10 minutes by bus. Then once through security, we had to make our way to another part of the building by train which didn't take too long. It probably took about 45 minutes from the plane to the departure gate.
The toilets in Dubai airport are so strange, they have a shower head attached to the side of them. I guess it's like a bidet? There's a cleaning lady who goes in after you've done your business to sweep up the water if you use it. The girl before me peed everywhere! It was pretty disgusting.
The second flight was much better than the first. I got some sleep, probably around 3 hours on and off, but not enough. It's hard sleeping upright. There's only so far back a chair can go.
The best part of the flight was the flight food I think. Everyone always say that they hate it, but I absolutely loved it! It's such a novelty. They come in little trays, with a few bits and pieces on them. ^-^! It's pretty cool.
There was a choice between two meals at each meal time. I forget what the other options were but this is the lamb with cous cous. Usually the other option is a chicken dish. It was pretty good, I wolfed it down because I was starving. It came with bread, crackers etc, a starter which was salmon and potato salad, and a dessert which was almost like a melted chocolate brownie.
Due to the time zone, there was no other food apart from ice cream about 6 hours in.
On the second flight, we were on the morning takeoff, so breakfast was chicken congee. Oh my word, this was awesome. I love congee! It's the best thing to eat. It's basically watered down rice which turns into a porridge, topped with chicken and spring onions and loaded with ginger, yum! The photo is pretty rubbish, the flash made it worse, so this was the best I could do.
This was served around 5 hours into the second flight. There was a choice between this spicy garlic prawns with rice and green beans or a chicken dish with saffron rice and green beans. I wasn't a fan of this meal, mostly because I was getting sick of sitting and my tummy was sore.
We landed in Korea at 4.30pm Korean time. But we didn't get to our hotel until at least 8pm.
It took at least two hours to get out of the airport. They have strict health checks when arriving in Korea due to the ebola scare. As soon as we got off the plane there was a huge queue to get through the health screening. There only 4 health staff checking the temperature of each person one by one.
We then had to walk about 5 minutes to catch an airport train to get to the immigration check points. You have no idea how big the queue was. It took at least an hour to get through. It was so hot waiting, moving an inch every minute.
Once through, it was straight down the escalators to the baggage reclaims! We found our stuff quite quick as there wasn't a lot of people at once. Going through customs was easy too, we just handed her the form and she didn't even look at them.
We then got to Korean soil! The airport was so big, we decided to go to the English speaking information desk and she took us straight to the Airport train to Seoul...literally! It's a good 10 minutes walk! She left her post, put up a sign and said follow me. Took us straight to some girls, and got us tickets to Seoul. It was pretty amazing!
The train from Incheon Airport to Seoul station was around 40 minutes. It was also reserved seating. If we didn't have that lady's help, I am sure we would have gotten lost. Once we got off the train, it was an absolute mission to get out of Seoul station. Escalators and escalators later we were out, but we had no idea where to go. Imagine being in the London underground that's 4x bigger and hotter!
We were originally going to walk to the hotel from City Station but decided on getting a taxi from Seoul station as it looked pretty far, and our luggage was heavy.
The taxi only cost us 3600 won, so around 1.80 British pounds. (I have no idea where my pound sign has gone. It's somehow changed to dollars).
The taxi took us to a neighborhood called 북창동 (Bukchang-dong), but not to the actual hotel. If you know Korea, you know how impossible it can be to find without asking for directions. There are restaurants and hotels above each other. Signs everywhere. For first time visitors, it can be daunting. Especially in the heat with a bunch of luggage.
We managed to find it after asking three people. It was hidden behind a long food street, down a side ally or two. We were looking for signs in Korean which said Daewoo Hotel Inn, but once we did find it, it turned out to be in English anyways.
It was a pretty nice trip. I think it went pretty smoothly. It could have been a lot worse! I was stressed at some points, but I think I kept my cool as best as I could. I didn't snap too much I don't think! Best ask David, he'd tell you the truth! Hahaha.
Love from Seoul,