Daily Archives: 20 April, 2009

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The Seoul of Korea: Enroute Back to Singapore

My last morning in Seoul dawned bright and early. Despite my somewhat early slumber the night before, I was still a little groggy. Careful not to wake up the slumbering Cheryl and Shafik, whose train to Busan was not to depart till after 10 a.m., I packed my things for the final time. After hugs of goodbyes and wishes of bon voyage, I was out of the door. I knew then I will miss my two travel buddies, but I also take heart that I will see them again back in Singapore in less than a week.

Views of Gwanghwamun

The early morning walk in Gwanghwamun area towards Jongno-san Ga station was very refreshing. I was, once again, mesmerised by this cultural district where modernity and traditional lives fused together. I was glad that I have chosen this district as my lodging of choice. Surrounded by palaces and temples of ancient times, I felt like a royalty myself.

Towards Incheon International Airport

The train ride towards Incheon International Airport took much longer than expected. From where I was, I needed to ride to Ghimpo International Airport (despite the name, it only serves domestic flight), before changing to an express train towards Incheon. The entire trip took no less than 1.5 hours. I was kinda suffocated by the amount of black suit cramped into the train cars, since it was the peak hour of a working day. But, seriously, Korean men could afford to have a little more variety on their suits (afterall, it’s a privilege to be able to wear such stuff on a daily basis during winter) than various shades of black and grey.

Incheon International Airport

It was only now when I took in the sights that were Incheon Airport, which was a culmination on all things modern about Korea. The infrastructure and architectural designer were impressive, rivaling that of Changi and KLIA. The only thing I could think of lacking was the “warmth” – human traffic. The service staff attending to tourists like me were on hand and impeccable with their service – with a smile. From the guy at the train ticket counter who topped up my now-deficient T-money, to the driver who offered me a ride on his luggage buggy, to the officer who pointed me to the right terminal for Malaysian Airlines, all were rendered with the famous Korean hospitality.

Food Court Fare at Incheon International Airport

Had my final Korean meal at the airport too. The price was expectedly exorbitant for the bland quality of fare I have ordered, but oh well… what should I expect? I was not about to shell out more Wons for a upmarket meals at some of the Japanese and Western eateries I saw at the aiport.

Incheon International Airport

Soon, it was time for me to board my flight, which was to transit at KLIA (was a breeze, I started blogging at the Starbucks outlet to while away the 3-hours waiting time) before heading back to Changi. The flight was unceremonious, except that… I cried while reading my holiday book The Gift. Kinda embarassing, and thank goodness there was nobody sitting next to me.

I arrived earlier than expected at Singapore, about 20 minutes earlier. By the time I cleared the custom, shopped at DFS, collected my luggage and cabbed home, it was just slightly before 9 p.m. Grateful I was to be back on familiar ground and to be back into the normal grind of life, but I kept having the feeling that I left half my heart behind…

… in the form of two friends whom I got to know much better through the trip, both good and bad. Another step upwards in our friendships. I am sure of that.

Click here for the final set of photos I took from this Korea trip.