01. Introduction: San Diego to Seoul on United, Air China, and Asiana
02. United Airlines economy class San Diego to San Francisco
03. United Global First Lounge San Francisco
04. United Airlines Global First San Francisco to Beijing
05. Air China First Class Lounge Beijing
06. Asiana Airlines business class Beijing to Seoul
07. Hyatt Regency Incheon
08. Three days in Seoul
09. The Plaza Hotel Seoul
10. Air China business class Seoul to Beijing
11. Air China business class Beijing to Los Angeles
12. United Express (Skywest) economy class Los Angeles to San Diego
Day 1: Getting to know Seoul
Even though I was wide awake at 5am my first morning in Seoul, it’s not to say that I didn’t get enough sleep – I was actually in bed and asleep by shortly after 10 the night before. Yeah, that was only about 7 hours of sleep, and more would have been nice, but I didn’t mind as I knew that I would be able to sleep as much as I wanted over the next two days.
My only goal for the day was to be as slow and lazy as possible – I had no intention of making this a non-stop crazy trip full of activities and sightseeing. I just wanted to relax! For as busy as I am in my daily life, it sure was nice to be able to be totally lazy for once.
After getting breakfast in the hotel restaurant at the Incheon Hyatt, I ended up staying in until about noon. From there, I took a taxi directly into Seoul to check into the Plaza Hotel. That was an adventure in and of itself – the driver was absolutely insane. He was a really nice older gentleman, but we were passing cars on the freeway like they were parked.
Once checked in, I realized that I didn’t much feel like wandering around in the sun, so I raided the mini bar and popped a can of nuts, then stayed inside until about 4:30 just watching Korean TV and writing this trip report. Hey – I was having fun doing absolutely nothing!
Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to get out and start exploring the area. Once I got outside, I realized that the Plaza hotel is in an awesome location – it’s literally right in the middle of everything.
Trying to keep things slow and easy, I decided to grab dinner at the hotel. I discovered a really nice buffet restaurant on the first floor (The Seven Square), and after a good meal I returned to my room to watch more Korean TV – and go to bed very early. Like I said: I was enjoying doing NOTHING for the first time since…heck, I can’t even remember when.
Day 2: Refreshed, recharged, and ready to explore
Even before I got out of bed, I knew it was going to be a good day. I took things slow again in the morning after grabbing breakfast at the Seven Square restaurant, and didn’t leave to go out walking until just after 11am. First, I decided to check out the street market I found the evening before.
After browsing the market for a while, I stopped and got some bread for lunch at a bread shop called Tous les Jours, then brought it back to the hotel room to eat. It wasn’t until right after I finished it that I realized how stupid that was – I forgot that there is something in bread that messes with my stomach if I do something physical right after (like walking) so I waited at least an hour before going out exploring again.
Feeling ok, I went back out and wandered around the area for the next three hours or so. I kind of retraced my path from the morning, but spent some time going further and taking the time to look around. I wandered the same local street markets just south of the hotel, then walked along the Han river for a while along the north side.
What was interesting to me was the police presence all around this area – there were police buses lining the streets wherever I turned, with riot gear layed out for easy access. Wtf? I did notice a few small political protests around, but they were very small and quiet. I’m not sure what they were preparing for, but they were ready for a large-scale event. Also interesting was some sort of a traditional Korean ceremony happening near the hotel. It looked very impressive from a distance, but after watching it for a few minutes, it seemed more like a tourist trap than anything else.
Day 3 – The end of my trip
I was up at 6:24am on the final day, which I admit was pretty darn early. I did go to bed at 9pm the night before though, so I did get plenty of sleep. How I actually stayed up until 9pm is beyond me – I was really tired.
My flight wasn’t scheduled to depart ICN until 5:55, so I had all the time in the world to get ready. I took things slow again that morning, having a shower, getting breakfast at the hotel restaurant (again – hey, I really liked that place!) then just chilled out in the room watching a documentary on TV until the 12pm check out. I took a taxi direct to ICN, and I’m happy to report that he was much calmer than the driver who brought me into the city.
And I’ve got to be honest – the food on this trip was really good, but I was looking forward to going home and eating light again.
I liked Seoul. I know I didn’t see much, but I did see enough to understand what it’s all about and get a feel for its vibe. This place is very much like Japan, mixed with a bit of Chinese flavor. I’m not sure when I’ll ever return, but I’d definitely enjoy going back someday.