090409 Thaikarl - a free day in Seoul, korea
since i had so much time on my layover, i decided to go exploring. it seems you get a visa-on-entry (being american) so i went out thru immigration - got an entrance stamp for korea and went downstairs. the nice lady at the information desk gave me a map of Seoul, and directed me to the right bus into town. rode in and got off at the Namdaemun market in downtown area. pretty cool! i wandered around all day, figured out how to get the bus back, cleared immigration- now i have both stamps in my passport! woo hoo.
korea is quite interesting. seems to be rather wealthy. lottsa cars, nice well regulated roads, huge towering blocks of apartments. everyone is dressed nice- no raggedy folk that i could see. there was all this interesting food, but i wasn't the least bit hungry. i ate something-on-a-stick, had a couple of espresso's and that's all i had room foor. tons of stuff at the market, rows and alleys and streets filled with little stalls selling all the usual mega variety of trinkets, cloths, do-dads, finery's, watches, jewelery, kitchen gear. the korean people sure look different thant he thai's and vietnamese. paler skin, rougher features, not as many cute girls. some interesting style choices. plenty of businessmen in suits. smokers everywhere. mobile phones stuck to everyone ears. no pick-up trucks in korea either, only cars. the merchant trucks have pickup beds, but they look and are merchant and delivery vehicles. most of the motorcycles have racks on the back for deliveries of goods. the personal motorbikes were mostly big scooter style things. nearly every car has a 6inch LCD screen sitting on the dash- GPS systems??? the land seems to be totally manicured and terra-formed. except for the steep hills, every inch seems like it was gone over in the past, or is being gone over in the present, lots of road and building construction going on. really nice airport.
things to seem TOO expensive, jeans and shirts for 10 to 15 dollars in the stalls, espresso was 1.20$ a shot. and good coffee it was too. i think tok and i are going to have to figure out a trip here. i think she would like the food- which is a critical criteria for her. i didn't spend hardly any money, got a little mobile phone fob with the Korean flag on it, and had my thai name engraved on a stick as a signature stamp, like the ones they use in japan.
what a deal twelve hour layovers are eh? i'm all check thru here at the airport, and i still have two hours to wait. feeling really confused about what time of day it's supposed to be. i'ts 4 in the afternoon here. it was cool this morning, but the sun came out and it warmed up. the whole area is covered with haze- smog maybe? but my eyes don't burn, so maybe it's just "marine air". yet another country where i can't read the signs and understand a single word that's being said. at least now in thailand i can understand a few things. i pick up a couple of words each time, but it's back to null here.
the Koreans hardly give me a second look, none of that "hey, it's a foreigner, would ya look at that" like other places. except for my purple hair, got a few smiles and thumbs up on that. guess i'll have to come back.
Read my Thailand adventure ::: http://www.thaicountrylife.com