Well — we made it! After months of preparation and hours of traveling, we’re finally in South Korea. Luckily, we had a good flight experience. I still can’t believe that we’re finally here…
We arrived at the Pittsburgh International Airport a little before 7 am on Monday (Thank you Ken!!). We went through security and checked our bags and then had breakfast. We took off a little before 10 and got to Detroit by 11. At this point, we had a 4 hour layover, which we were fine with. We would rather wait around than have a 1 hour layover and miss a flight.
As for our long flight experience (a little over 13 hours) – it wasn’t bad at all. We had upgraded to economy plus so we were pretty close to the front of the plane and it really did seem like there was extra leg room. We were on a double-decker plane, so it felt huge! I’ve never had so many meals on a plane ride…they fed us 3 meals and a snack! While it was difficult to really sleep on the plane, the experience was great because each person had access to a small TV with free HBO, TV shows, and movies. That really helped to make the plane ride go fast. We also kept busy talking with some of the fellow passengers. We were seated near a few men who had worked and lived in South Korea many times…they said they love Korea.
We arrive in Incheon, South Korea around 5:15 am our time back in Pittsburgh — but it was 6:15 pm in South Korea! We went through to get all of our baggage, which luckily was all there. We also had to go through customs and immigration before we were able to leave the airport. All of those steps did go pretty quickly. We then exchanged money at the currency exchange at the airport. We also had to call our hotel to request a shuttle to come get us. That was our first challenge. We don’t yet have Korean phone service and our American phone service is shut off, so we couldn’t use our cell phones. We had to ask where the pay phones were and then we had to get coins that were small enough to use the pay phones. Many of the phones only took phone cards, which we didn’t have.
Within half an hour, our shuttle came to take us to our hotel. At this point, I was feeling really sleepy. It was really cool to see all of the lights and city views as we drove to the hotel. Check in was quick and easy, but once we got to our room, we had no idea how to turn on the lights or anything. After fumbling around with our cell phones as flashlights for a few minutes, we found this sign.
It turns out that our TV remote also controlled the air conditioner and lighting! How cool is that?! I’m interested to see if this is the case at other hotels and our apartment. It was frustrating the first few minutes not knowing how to turn on the lights, but looking back it’s really funny! We showered and crashed right away, which was much needed after so many hours of traveling.
We ended up waking up around 4:00 am. We hung out in the hotel for 2 hours because we weren’t sure if places would be open yet. We ventured to the first open restaurant that we could find to order breakfast.
This was out first Korean restaurant experience. Some of the menu items were printed out on pictures on the wall with the Korean names and a few English words. We both decided to try something different and see how it went. We both liked our dishes. Our meals came to a total of 9,000 won ($8.50 usd).
We spent a lot of our first day walking around the city. We walked during the day and night-time. We also spent some of the day walking to an area park and to an area that overlooked the Yellow Sea. It was really cool to look at everything and take in how different it was from what we’re used to.
Here is a picture of Incheon in the daytime and some from the nighttime 🙂
Here’s some pictures from our walk when we got a view of the Yellow Sea.
I’m hoping within a few weeks, we start to get a lot better at communicating. We point to pictures a lot and say thank you a lot. (gamsahabnida!) One thing that we’ve noticed is very different is when you’re at a restaurant, there is a little button on your table. When you’re ready to order or if you need anything, you press the button and a waiter comes to you.
Well, it’s almost midnight here so I’m off to bed. Tomorrow, we leave this hotel and take a bus to the city of Gwangju. We will be staying there alone for 3 days before our orientation starts. We are really glad that we came a few days early so that we get a chance to explore. Talk soon! 🙂