After 12 hours and 41 minutes of flight we touch down at Incheon International Airport for another trip to Southeast Asia and our first visit to South Korea. Our late afternoon arrival leaves us a bit exhausted from a 14 hour time change but even so with a light rain falling we still manage to venture out around our hotel neighborhood.
A few stares at posted picture menus and we settle on a “Mom & Pop” restaurant for our first authentic South Korean meal. Two large bowls of a beef noodle soup with rice and all the trimmings including a”spicy” serving of kimchi. For about US$14 we are filled.
Feeling well rested and twelve hours later we are paralleling the Incheon Airport Expressway racing towards Seoul at 60 mph. Leaving Exit 8 at the Gwanghwamun Metro station we ascend into a cold and rainy afternoon.
Seizing the opportunity to stay dry and somewhat comfortable we board a tour bus for a 2 hour journey around the city. Besides learning more about Seoul from an on board audio program a highlight of the tour is seeing the city from the hillside area around the Seoul Tower.
We are fortunate that we happen to be in town while two popular cultural events are going on. For the Second Annual Kimchi Festival vendors line a popular street area and we get to sample some of South Korea's culinary delights.
At a museum we learn about some of Korea's significant historical achievements including its early Navy battles with Japan. We also learned about the development of Hangul by King Sejong. Hangul which was created in the 1300's is considered by some to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world.
As night falls around the city we head to Cheonggyecheon Plaza to enjoy the Seoul Lantern Festival where colorful Korean artworks display a part of it's history on a “River Walk that is below street level.
Some more time walking around the city and soon we return to Line 5 for about a one hour journey back to our hotel.
Our day ends with another neat Korean style dinner. This time we are cooking our own meal at a table side grill that turns out to be a cool experience.