A Night in Seoul
Arriving fresh from Japan, I was making my way to Europe via Hong Kong in an intentionally indirect way. I had been able to get a long overnight transit in Seoul where I otherwise could not stopover. This gave me a chance to not just get out and finally see some of Korea but also visit a good friend from Uppsala. It was a brief but great stay in Seoul and a gentle reminder that it should not be the Asian country I have seen the least of.
Arriving at Incheon on a flight from Osaka Kansai, I made my way outside and found the the bus to the airport that would drop me at Ewha Womans University. Jenny had warned me she was getting her CV/employment photo done today, which means looking super formal and borderline unrecognisable. Admittedly I did take a moment to recognise her but it was probably easier for her to find a lost looking caucasian without a phone service.
Ewha Womans University
We’re all university people after all so why not start from here. It’s not just a top ranked private university, it also has some spectacular architecture.
I got a guided tour of what seems to be a range of different designs, strongly inspired from the west.
Food and Nightlife
Food. It’s pretty good. No really, what’s more to say than I wanted both contemporary and traditional Korean. Let’s start with a ‘snack’ meaning western good, Korean style. They have never actually stopped trying to perfect deep frying here. Only a few minutes walk from the university is a plethora of small food outlets to choose from. Of course this is the heartland of taking photos until your food is probably cold. Thankfully after Japan, my selfie game was somewhat on point but I felt I still had some more to learn.
We headed off and with luck ran into Suejin briefly, before she scurried off with her boyfriend. We spent some time looking around before taking the subway over to busy Yongsan-gu (district). This area is a melting pot of cultures, business, food, nightlife. Jenny left here bag in one of the station lockers and we looked around on foot. Literally so much here, would takes months to explore.
Off for more food, this time a bit more traditional. I think at this stage I gave up trying to compete taking photos.
We stayed out a bit but it had been a long day for us both so went back to the station to head home. I bought a T-money card as a promise to visit again. At the station we realised it was too late and the trains had stopped for the night. Sort of surprising for Seoul, I expected them to run longer but no matter, there were other ways. But the computerised lockers had also decided to to shut for the night. Running windows, they had pretty much frozen and were on some remote time control. Fantastic. Well what do you do when Windows crashes? You scale a wall and rip out the power plug – turn it off, turn it on again. After booting it auto-loaded the locker interface program and we quickly unlocked it before the system re-synced. That’s enough adventure for one day. We made our way back to her family’s apartment where her mother was waiting and ready to make us food if we wanted. Too much already of course but still, appreciated. Her brother’s friend had just left the day prior so I had great timing to stay in their guest room. We may have been a long way from Uppsala but I left a bite mark in her Nation songbook. It’s always fun to see where people live that you know from afar. I had to promise I would visit again but next time for longer.
Unfortunately it was all too short. These sort of moments stick with you but they’re never enough. It disappoints me to think how much time I travel yet don’t get to more places I would want to stay at. Thank you Jenny and your mother is particularly amazing. After some over-the-top, there’s-a-guest-staying cooking in the morning she drove us back to the airport for my flight to Beijing.