Arriving in Seoul for the first time

11 March 2012

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I wrote this on one of my first ever blogs back in 2012 - I was 18 years old... thought I'd keep this just for memories and to realise how small my mind were back then coming straight from SA. I kinda wrote it as if I'm gonna be keeping it as a diary, but after a few weeks the novelty of being in a new country wears off and you just live life normally and then keeping 'diary' becomes pointless.

I departed from Johannesburg International Airport on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 - I just knew, it will be 2 long flights, as I will stop in Dubai for 3 hours at mid night.

On my way to Dubai, I was lucky to have no-one sitting next to me, which helped a lot with my comfort. Also the Emirates's Airbus A380 has more than enough space for your legs, even in economy class. Food was good!

After about 8 hours, we finally approached Dubai.. That has to be the most expensive airport I have ever seen. Luckily I wasn't hungry, as a Big Mac Meal cost there about AED 28, which is R60 in South African Currency. In South Africa a Big Mac would cost me about R30. Can't believe though I paid R40 just for a cup of Hot Chocolate at Starbucks.

At 3am, I departed for the last stretch of the journey, to Incheon International Airport. It was quite an uncomfortable flight, especially because the Boeing 777 is considerably smaller than the A380 and barely have any proper space for your legs. To top it off, I had a Big Russian guy sitting next to me, who can barely speak English and a grumpy Korean guy at the end who likes his sleep way too much and probably swears at me in Korean everytime I wake him up so I can pass through to go to the rest room. I was too thankful for the ICE Entertainment System that Emirates have on-board. I just sat there and watched Two and A Half Men, Friends and Modern Family, which is by far my favourite TV-Shows ever.

When I arrived at Incheon International Airport at around 5PM Korean Time, things changed, I was slammed from the side, when I stepped outside the airport building and felt -10 temperatures, especially that I came from a place which was 30+......

I was escorted by a taxi driver from the Airport to The Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.. Took about 3 hours, as traffic was really bad and well, Incheon is an island quite far away from Seoul.

As we traveled through the city, it suddenly hit me, that I'm nowhere near home.. The signs is mostly written in Korean, the people drive on the wrong side of the road and the money had like three pointless zero's which makes prices look massive!

The Check-In at the University was rather awkward, as the GlobeDorm clearly wasn't expecting me. The were all confused, not sure which dorm to give me.. After the Korean was on the phone for like 10minutes they finally gave me a room. The first night I was so jet lagged and just wanted to go back home and convinced myself it was a bad decision to come here.

The next morning I woke up at 9am. Decided to go for a walk.. Yes, it was cold outside, and there was snow underneath the trees. I walked down the street from the back of the University. I walked for about 1km, through the residential area and thought I would never find my way back and there I finally saw the busy road - too happy I walked through it on Street View a few days before my flight, so I recognised most of the things, so I managed to find my way back. When I got back to my dorm, I just passed out again on my bed - suffering from severe jet lag.

The Saturday, my French-speaking room mate thought he would take me for an outing, to the Yongsan Electronic Market, with the Subway Train - that place is impressive. That place consists of over 6 floors and have more than 300 individually owned stores, selling just about everything you could ever want!


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Written by Ronald

Freelance Full-Stack Software Developer working on development projects for local and international clients. Originally from South Africa and travels around Asia whilst working remotely.


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