40 Days in Korea: D-day. Day 1.1. Good morning Korea!

I woke up seeing this view on my window. Pretty neat! Then I fell asleep again. And when I woke up it’s already bright.

The plane ride was okay. There were very few passengers (that’s probably why the fare suddenly got cheaper). There were just one or two passengers per row of 6. I have no one beside me.

Also the plane was bigger. It now looks like a plane. A small plane. Because last time I went abroad – to Taiwan, I felt I was just inside a bus.

When we finally landed, I was delaying things and I don’t really wanna go out of this gate.

I don’t know. Probably I was just afraid that everything will fade away when I step outside even before it started happening and everything will end up being just a dream. Oh no! My Sam Soon sickness is here again.

But I stepped out and somehow things didn’t fade.

But it didn’t turn magical either.

Okay, there were Korean signs everywhere and high class facilities. But I didn’t feel anything. I was expecting I’ll be super elated. But I was more excited when I arrived in Taiwan last year. Was it because I’ve been used to flying and going to other places as compared to the time when I was in Taiwan and it was my first time to travel abroad?

I spent a lot of minutes on the restroom – trying to freshen up and wake myself up. Maybe it’s the tiredness that’s why I am numb to excitement.

I went out and it there were not much people around anymore. Considering I was one of the last one to alight the plane, I also spent a lot of time in the restroom. Now where do I go next? A right, baggage!

So I just followed the signs and found myself in a place that looks like a subway station. A subway station inside the airport? Is it the AREX? I don’t know and I don’t care. I think I was lost. Then a staff went to me because I was probably looking like a lost kid. I told him, in English (because I don’t know how to say it in Korean) where the baggage claim is. And he told me to take the train. Woah! Cool!!! (Then I remember reading about it once in a blog – the train inside the airport).

After getting my stuff, it was kinda cool walking among many Koreans, mostly airport staff, that are talking to each other. A girl called out to her Unnie who was walking-running, asked her where she was going and the Unnie answered she’ll get coffee and asked the girl whether she would like one too. Did I just understand everything they said? Oh well, it was a simple conversation.

So I went out of the arrival gate and saw someone from CNU waiting for students. I ignored it thinking they were waiting for different students. Because I clearly told them in the email that I will stay in Seoul first and will go to Gwangju by myself on July 1st. They did receive my email, right? Right?

So now, to look for eggmoonrice – a good friend from the Philippines who’s taking MA in Kangwon National University in Chuncheon. She went home for a short vacation and unfortunately she missed her bus to Chuncheon so she ended up sleeping in the airport. But I can’t find her. She said she’s near the arrival but there were too many people. So I went to G25 first because I wanted to buy something.

In Korea # 001: In Korea, you can leave your things anywhere without worrying that it’ll get lost. No one will care.

The G25 near the arrival is quite small. I wanted to go to the beverage section and it’s not possible to drag my trunk all the way inside. So I just followed what everyone did and left it outside the store.

Ignoring the hunger, I went straight to the beverage section and bought my first purchase in Korea – Vitamin Water.

Any Kim Sun Ah fan would know why I want to buy this. 🙂

I went around the arrival area and looked around the information area for some stuff that I can get. Like some brochures or postcards or maps.

Then I saw eggmoonrice pushing her trolley. We had breakfast together – kimbap. And it was very delicious. There were kimbap in the Philippines from Korean restaurants but nothing taste like the one in G25! Haha. I think I can eat kimbap everyday!

In Korea # 2: In Korea, I can eat delicious Kimbap everyday!

We took some photos together then eggmoonrice needs to head to Chuncheon right away. She already missed a few days worth of classes because of her vacation in the Philippines and now she is running very late for her classes. I sent her off, and again, just leaving my luggage somewhere in the arrival area.

We were both thrilled that both of us are in Korea now. That I AM in Korea now. Though I still didn’t feel anything special. Probably because we were just together a few days before in the Philippines? The airport looks nice. The bus terminal in the airport looks cool and definitely not something you’ll find in the Philippines. But still it doesn’t feel Korea to me. I don’t know why. I thought maybe when I’m left alone everything will start sinking in.

I went back to the airport.

I don’t know what to do next.

I was initially planning on going to Incheon city hall, then around the area. Afterwards heading to Ganghwa and touring around the area. Then go to Seoul in the evening. But I wasn’t bale to finalize my plans before I left and I don’t know exactly where to go. My laptop’s battery is dead too and I don’t have a cellphone.

I decided to just go around the airport first and wait until 9:00am when the banks are open (because I have to withdraw some money). I was able to check my facebook briefly and a friend informed me that Kim Sun Ah has an ad somewhere in the basement. So I head to the basement and looked around. Pushing my luggage sometimes. Leaving it somewhere at other times.

I didn’t saw Kim Sun Ah’s ad (but I was very near it! 😥 ). But I was able to go around the airport. There were many other things I want to see in the airport but I wasn’t able to write them all down. So I decided to just look for them on my departure. I’ll just be early in the airport so I’ll have time to look around.

I decided to go back to the arrival area and look for an outlet to plug my laptop so I can start deciding what to do… when I heard my name being paged. Darn! Were they waiting for me? Today?

So I went to the information desk and told the lady there that I think I heard my name was called – in Korean! Success! She understood what I meant. And for some strange reasons, I didn’t have a hard time talking. She called someone informing them that the person they are looking for came, then she told me to wait.

Darn! What do I do? And how do I explain? I knew it! They probably either didn’t notice what I said on the email or didn’t receive it. But I remember them replying to it.

A staff from CNU came and I greeted him and I apologized – in Korean. He was surprised that I can speak Korean. Then I tried explaining the situation.

At first there was supposed to be a service from the airport to CNU. But eventually we were told that someone will just show us the way to get to an airport limo until Gwanju Terminal. Or if we are coming from Seoul, we can take the express bus. So I decided to spend a few days in Seoul first before coming down to Gwanju since they are not going to pick us up anyway and I don’t need directions on how to get to Gwanju. I could just ask around.

So I explained to him about it and he called someone, probably someone from CNU. He looks worried at first when I told him I’ll be going around Seoul on my own. But after talking to me in Korean for a long time, I think he realized I’ll be okay. I also said I wasn’t able to contact anyone since I don’t have a phone (then he asked me don’t I have an iphone? What? Is it required to have an iphone now? – And later I realized that almost every Korean uses a smart phone now so it was not really strange that he asked me if I don’t have an iphone. O.o) and I told him I’ll contact them as soon as I have my 선불폰 (prepaid phone) which I’m planning to get in Seoul. He taught me how to use the payphone. Then he left me alone. Hooray!

I opened my laptop again. I think it’s too late already to plan a trip to Ganghwa. Besides I don’t have much money with me yet. Also the stupid luggage I’ve packed are all so heavy, it’s difficult to move them around. I decided maybe it’s better to stay in Seoul with my friend. But I can’t contact my friend and I told her I’ll be in Seoul the next day instead. So I guess the best thing to do is to get my phone and I can work from there.

So I head to the AREX (and checked the basement one last time for Kim Sun Ah’s ad that I didn’t see). Was surprised to see there’s a CGV (moviehouse) inside the airport.

In Korea # 3. There’s a moviehouse and a spa inside the airport.

I went to the AREX. But I don’t know what to do. I want to take the commuter train – the cheapest way to Seoul. But was afraid I might take the incorrect train. Also I don’t know how I can get to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station.

So I went to the information and, in Korean, asked how to get to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station while showing her my map. And I was told my map was old! Darn stupid map! So embarrassing! So she gave me a new subway map (yey!) and showed me the way. Get off Hongik University station and transfer to line 2.

Then before getting in, I told her I want to take the commuter train and asked her if I’m in the correct area. And she said yes (apparently the KTX is on the other side).

Wow! Just wow! I was able to get all the information and directions I need and all was in Korean! Just wow!

On the way to AREX, a kid noticed my Sam Sook stuff toy and started small talk with me, asking me if it was my doll. Cute!

And since I didn’t prepare for the trip, I don’t know how the subways work in Korea. So I had to ask which side goes to Hongik University station to an ahjumma and I was told where.

So far so good. I’ve been speaking purely in Korean after eggmoonrice left. And I survived!

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