“Do you like kimchi?
This was hardly the first time I’d been asked this question. After nearly 5 years in Korea, I feel as if every last one of the 50 millions residents has asked me that at some point. However, this was no inquisitive schoolchild or drunken ajoshi. This was a white guy who worked at the airport and had overheard my final destination as I checked in my bags. This was also 5 in the morning. I was 45 minutes and a half bottle of wine into a 21-hour travel day.
“Yep.” I responded instinctually.
“Do you like soju?”
“Do you ever hang out on The Hill?”
This guy knew his shit it seemed. Clearly, he’d been to Korea too. The Hill, of course, would be Itaewon’s notorious Hooker Hill. I’d been of course, everybody has, but not necessarily for the reasons that this cat was implying. The Hill is the home of Polly’s Kettle House, one of my very favorite Seoul bars. Sadly, I didn’t have a snappy response it this hour, so I just said “Yeah, plenty of times.” And thus, the last people that I spoke to in America probably think that I’m a whoremonger.
Twenty physical hours and 34 clock hours later, I was back on Asian soil. The trip was fully underway.
While I’ve been working in this part of the world for years, this is my first chance to travel, I mean really travel. A weekend in Japan or a week in Bali are fantastic ways to spend time, but with the Korean language academy’s short vacation structure, I never had a chance at extended, long-form travel.
This trip will be a journey into the unknown and full of mystery and blah blah blah, so of course it made sense to start it by landing at Incheon Airport and crashing in Seoul, places that I am so familiar with that locals frequently ask me for directions.
My 6 days in Seoul can be summed up like this – First 2.5 days – nonstop party action, only a couple hours of sleep. Second 2.5 days – nonstop sleep, only a couple hours awake to watch KU Basketball. Last day – errands, touristy stuff, and an NES-fueled all-nighter on may way out.
Everything in Seoul was a little disjointed, as you my ascertain from this poorly-thought out schedule. Everything in this post kinda feels that way too.
Now I’m in Malaysia, which I’ll discuss at some point that is not right now.
I’ve been planning this trip for years now, sorta. I had a much more rigidly-planned Asia trip in 2010 that I was supposed to take in 2011, but it was not to be. This time around, I have no plan at all. I am paid up at my current hostel until Sunday, and I don’t know where I’m going next. Good times, good times.
Partying at the noraebang
Gyeonbuk Palace with Seoul’s skyline peering over
Honor guard at the palace