Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arrival in Seoul, South Korea

Wednesday Sept. 16, 2009

The Plane ride was long, and it made it even longer since the person I sat next to was an older gentleman who didn't speak any english whatsoever. I guess it gave me more time to go through my study materials! Hopefully when it comes to taking those tests I pass!!! I tried to sleep through it...I even set my music to classical...but it didn't help. I guess that since I was sooo furious about what had happened with the guy at the ticket booth that I just couldn't relax enough to fall asleep.
We arrived in Seoul at 2:30. I headed to get my luggage. I grabbed one of the little luggage carriers (because they were FREE) and when I finally arrived at the correct baggage claim area, I only could find one of my suitcases there....At this point I'm freaking out again! lol....OF COURSE, leave it to me to wind up with only one of my two suitcases in a foreign country! Thankfully, when I got up to the missing baggage area, they made a call to the baggage area and they have it! PHEWWW! That was a relief! Then, this was the easiest customs that I have ever had to go through....I basically walked up to them handed them the little paper saying I didn't have anything to declare and then just walked on through! Then I changed over $100 into their currency which came up to 117,500 won. So the won is the equivalent to $1.17 and 1/2. That is depending on where you go!!!
When I walked out of the airport, I knew that I needed to find a specific bus at a specific area...I walked outside and found the bus area immediately but I did not find the ticket booth that was supposed to be close by. So, I walked back inside with my little luggage carrier and walked up to the help desk to ask where I got my ticket...As I have my back to my luggage trying to speak with the lady, a man comes up and starts pushing my cart with my luggage. The lady points to him and he says follow me...So I'm thinking that this man is going to take me to the ticket area...I try to take away my luggage but keeps pulling my hand off the cart saying the he can do it! He walks very briskly and I try to follow as closely as possible. When he comes to a stop, another man starts pulling my luggage off the rack and putting it into a van. I stop them and I say "No, no, no...I don't want to take a taxi, I need the bus." He proceeds to tell me, "No bus, taxi faster!" I keep trying to refuse and trying to take my luggage out of the van, but they won't let me. Then I grab my backpack and pull out my instructions of how to leave the airport and where to go. I point to the bus and try to explain to him that I don't want to take the taxi I need to take the bus. At this point the other man has all of my stuff in the van and he shuts the door. Then the guy that drug me out there takes the folder from my hand and flips through it...then he took it and got into the front seat of the van WITH MY FOLDER!!! GRRRRRRR....why does everything go against me....I'm standing outside in the back of the vehicle still and the man motions for me to get into the van. I'm not getting in at this point....Then he gets out of the vehicle and sort of tugs at my arm....I am furious, at this point I know that I'm not getting out of taking this STUPID TAXI...I get in and watch the meter....go up...and up....and up....and UP!!! I start causing a fuss...The meter was at 98,000 won, and we wern't even there yet!!! NEARLY $100 for a taxi ride!!! AHHHHHH!!!!! I'm tired, i'm Furious, and I am at the point of tears....I grab my money and stuff my US Cash, credit card, and 17,500won into my pocket leaving 100,000 won and a few dollar bills in my bill fold. I call out to the man..."I don't have any more money!!! that's all that I have!" I hand him the wallet with the cash in there...he pulls out the 100,000 won. He points to the cash inside and I say that they are only 1 dollar bills...then he asks if I have a credit card, I told him no...Then he looks at the other guy and laughs, but the other guy isn't as amused...but I don't care at this point...for all that I cared, they could take me as far as that got me and then I would walk the rest of the way... I WAS READY TO! The guy then turned to the driver of the taxi and said something in Korean, then pressed a little button on the machine that stopped the meter. There was still about another 20 mins before we finally arrived at the hotel and now that I wasn't watching the meter I got to pay attention to the surroundings....The taxi driver weaved in and out of tight traffic like it was nothing...sometimes not even having centimeters to spare, and sometimes going into another lane whether there was a car there or not!!! I didn't know whether I liked watching the road or the meter better! It was frightning, I don't know how there weren't any accidents.
The taxi finally comes to a stop...the driver basically throws my stuff out onto the street and hops back into the vehicle and leaves. I don't see anything that says a matter of fact, I don't see any signs that I can actually read!!! So, I walk into the first building I looks nice with a glass elevator door...I don't see anything down on the street level so I figure I must have to take the elevator up. As I try to wheel my two suitcases into the tiny little elevator the door CLOSES ON ME Hitting me in the head b/c I was looking down!!! This elevator is not like the ones in the states where when it senses something in the doorway, that it will barely touch you and then open again....NOOOOOO, this one is still trying to shut itself!!! Right now I've got one half of my body on the elevator with one suitcase and the other half of my body is still out the door with the other suitcase! I literally had to let go of my suitcases and push it back open!!! Then it almost closed again on my second suitcase but I pulled it in just in time! I took the elevators to all the different floors and I only saw staircases....then I got smart and stuck my head out the elevator and looked to my right.....what do ya know!!! there is an office off to the side!!! lol. I walked over to the lady at the desk and she doesn't speak any English, but she can't find anyone else who does either! So, we try to talk.....and try....and try....and no luck, the language barrier is too big....but then I remember that I have the phone # to the hotel written down. I give her the # and give her the universal sign for call...She UNDERSTANDS!!! YAY!!! lol. she calls them up and looks at me to try and tell me where it is and attempts to, but then just stops and decides to just grab one of my suitcases and motion for me to follow. The hotel was on the other end of the block hidden behind this awning that had flaps of black fabric that hung about four feet from the ground, hiding the entrance...I would of never figured this was the building from the spot that the taxi had dropped me off....but thankfully for that lady, I still made it there. I checked into my room, #808 in Hotel Major.
I walked in through both of the doors to my room and looked for the lights...I don't see I set my stuff down and start looking for them....I see a whole bunch of buttons everywhere, so...what do I do....Start pressing all the buttons. NONE OF THEM WORK!!! What in the world is going on?!? So, I turn around and start heading back out the doors, when I look at the wall between the doors....there's a little key spot. By first glance it looks like one of those card swipe areas that would unlock the door...but why would they have two of them??? So, I put my key inside of it and EURIKA!!! I have light!!! Now that I have figured out my lighting system, I'm thinking that a nap would be great then afterwards I could brave the city and go grab a bite to eat. Just as I finish changing into my sleep clothes a bell starts going off...I start looking around for it....then I hear a knocking at my door! and in walks the hotel guy and two other girls.I figure that one of the girls is my roommate, but instead they have just come to introduce themselves and the guy has come along so he can show us how everything works...(doesn't that figure...after I just spent all that time trying to find lights!). After the guy leaves the girls ask if I'd like to join them for dinner, I figured that that would probably be the best idea (even though I am super tired!
For dinner we walk around town....none of us read Korean...and the only one that even speaks a little bit of Korean is Julie, an 22 yr old american born chinese girl from Pennsylvania. We are not having any luck with the looks of any of the finally we start asking for menus and looking for places that have pictures and prices together....or English and prices!!! lol! We finally find this little korean place. We order the Korean BBQ b/c Julie says that it is really good! They bring out a whole bunch of dishes with sauces and vegetables and different things on them. Then they bring out fressh meat and lay it on this hot plate in the middle of our table. The man comes and cuts up the strips of meat into smaller pieces to make it cook faster and make it easier to eat.

1.) Pick lettuce leaf or mint leaf and lay it down in the middle of your plate.
2.) Put a few pieces of cooked meat in the middle of leaf.
3.) Choose veggies to put with it (garlic, onions, cabbage, mushroom, can also cook any of these items on the hot plate if you like)
4.) roll the leaf around the meat and veggies
5.) dip in whatever kind of sauce you like.
6.) Eat it up!!!

Why is it called Korean BBQ you ask?....because one of the sauces they give you is a very sweet style sauce that tastes like a sweet bbq sauce. For dessert they give you rice cake...When they brought this out I thought that it was paper thin slices of vegetables, like radish or something else, but sure enough, it was the very tasteless rice cake!!! After we got done eating I was completely exhausted!!! I came back to the hotel and crashed for the night! What a day!


  1. Leana, that was the most ridiculous adventure I've read of in a long time. Your stories beat my crazy Alaska stories any day! Good luck in S.Korea; I am praying and thinking of you!

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