We planned to travel to South Korea for a bit more than two weeks and then continue to Hong Kong, before going to the Philippines. We were hoping for four weeks of sightseeing! Our bags were packed, and that wasn’t the easy part since we needed to pack warm clothes for South Korea (March in South Korea brings temperatures around 10°C, we read) and lighter clothes for Hong Kong (more than 20°C) and the Philippines (30+°C). We tried to press all that into the suitcases (as well as some gifts for my family in the Philippines) without exceeding the weight limit. We had booked a flight with KLM via Amsterdam to Seoul, South Korea´s capital.
Nearby the departure area, we found the ticket counter for AREX and bought tickets to Seoul Station. The AREX is a train that brings you from the Incheon Airport to Seoul in less than an hour. We chose the next Non-Stop Train and soon boarded the modern train to Seoul.
However, we were a bit more shocked, when we came to the hotel, as it looked like ripped open and an abandoned building site. For a moment, we thought it was closed down, and nobody told us. Around the corner, fortunately, there was the entrance, and they were open after all. It turned out that they were having a major renovation, with a new bridge from the hotel to a new pedestrian zone above the road. We saw pictures, how it should look, when they are finished, and it might be really cool. It looked like it will be possible to follow the new pedestrian zone above the street from the Seoul Station directly to the hotel (and to the nearby Namdaemun Market). Our room turned out to be okay, and as we had one on the top floor, we weren’t bothered by the noise of the building work, that started later, beneath us.
It was already early evening, and I needed a moment to rest (I couldn’t sleep well on the plane), while my friend walked back to the Seoul Station to the huge Lotte Mart for some groceries. It was too late for a real sightseeing tour, but we decided to walk to the nearby Namdaemun Gate. It was actually an outlook on what expected us in South Korea – the old and the new side by side. The gate is dating back to the 14th century and is surrounded by “new” Seoul with skyscrapers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enter the gate, as it was already closed. It looks terrific, however, especially in the evening.
Nearby the gate is the Namdaemun Market, the largest traditional market in South Korea, so, we walked there too. It was a bit of a letdown, as it was rather deserted. We were either too late or too early. We still walked through it, but when we didn´t find something for (late) dinner, we walked to the Seoul Station.
While the food court at the station was closed too already, a few fast food restaurants were still open. I actually was a bit surprised as I had expected Seoul to be wide awake in the evening. We eventually returned to the hotel (this time staying above the ground) and soon went to sleep to be fit for sightseeing in Seoul on the next day!