It could have been excitement, nerves, or maybe the fact that I had a lot to do still at the last minute, but I haven’t been able to sleep much for the past few days. This could have contributed to the poorly timed cold I’m getting, or maybe it’s just going around. Even with the congestion lingering, the 12 hour flight we just completed from Seattle to Seoul was pretty trouble free. Got to the airport in plenty of time, checked in, seats assigned, security – all a breeze. The Nyquil really knocked me out and thankfully I was able to get some sleep on the plane. Every time I’ve flown internationally before I left on a domestic carrier and there was still that feeling of familiarity until you stepped off the plane in a new country, but this flight was like stepping on foreign soil from the moment we got to the gate. We flew Korean Air to Seoul and everything from the way we queued up to get on the flight to the delicious bibimbap served for dinner was a sure sign we had already left home.
We had this plan of arriving at 5:30pm and taking the bus into Seoul to see the city at night. I mean, how often are we going to be here? It was an ambitious plan since the bus takes an hour, but we have a 16 hour layover that shouldn’t be wasted on sleeping right? Well, there was a headwind that slowed us down, and then it took a little while to clear customs, get some money, wait for the shuttle, etc… and then we realized we were too hungry and tired to sit on a bus for an hour and then try to live it up for night in time to make it back to the airport for a 9:30 flight.
Our hotel is nice and there are some good restaurants downstairs. We asked the girl who checked us in which one was her favorite… she said “no western food here” and we agreed, we aren’t here for western food, so she sent us to the place with “the blue sign”… which was well enough because nothing is in English anyway. Unfortunately I’ve been spending all my time trying to learn Hindi and Mandarin and haven’t had a chance at all to learn even some basic phrases in Korean, so we are smiling and pointing and everybody at least understands “Thank You” so far. I pointed out some interesting looking things to eat and dinner was great… Of course I don’t know what anything was called, but there was a kind of spicy sweet veggie dish (carmelized onions maybe), another spicy veggie dish, some kind of green bean, fried seaweed (salty and crunchy, really good), and a hot pot with really spicy vegetables that we mixed in with a seafood mix (octopus, clams, snails, shrimp) over rice.
Kim is getting ready for bed now while I check email and try to get my cell phone sorted out. Tomorrow we fly to Beijing.