Day 1 of South Korea Trip 2016

Last night I boarded a Jeju Air plane with fellow taekwondo club members on a flight from Hong Kong to Seoul. We’ll be taking part in the 2016 World Taekwondo Hanmadang. It’s an annual tournament that takes place in South Korea and features competitions in patterns and board breaking!

The flight departed late last night at close to 2 in the morning. I slept most of the way on the flight.

Incheon International Airport (ICN) is the international airport closest to Seoul. It’s a very well designed, modern airport. Upon disembarking of the aircraft, we made our way to the shuttle train, then through customs and immigration (which doesn’t allow photo taking), then baggage pickup and finally out into the arrival hall.

Next, we exchanged Hong Kong dollars for Korean won (₩). Just exchange enough currency to get to the city and exchange more at a bank later where the rates are better. Then we went outside the arrival hall and purchased some bus tickets to Gangnam district in Seoul. If you purchase tickets with a Union Pay card, you’ll get T-Money cards (cards that can store cash and be used to efficiently pay for things by tapping the card on the payment device) along with the bus tickets. The bus that runs to Gangnam features deluxe seating so the configuration is 1 lone seat on the right, aisle, 2 seats on the left. The seats are all reclining captain seats so you’ll surely get a comfy ride to Seoul, which is nice because it’s roughly just over an hour.

When the bus pulled over at one of the hotels in Gangnam, we all got off, collected our luggage, and made our way uphill off the main avenue deep into the heart of residential Gangnam. There, we found the house that we’d be renting for the next few days. The first floor is private so we have access to the second and third floors. It’s nice! It’s complete with a living room, kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, master bedroom and 3 or 4 other bedrooms.

After settling in at our rental house, we found breakfast at The Jincook. It features a lot of the common dishes you might expect in a Korean restaurant, like delicious pork and beef, noodles – both hot and cold and some yummy kimchi. I had the naengmyeon (냉면 / cold noodles) and grilled pork.

Later, we went window shopping in the area, had some coffee at Starbucks, and went to the Kukkiwon campus. There’s the main Kukkiwon building and a separate cafeteria building with a modest but interesting little museum on the second floor.

There are also a couple of shops in the area that sell taekwondo gear and related merchandise. Prices are actually mostly kind of high. Afterwards, we went back to the house. That’s where I’ve been relaxing all afternoon. The house is well furnished and cozy.

In the evening, we went out for some Korean BBQ for dinner in the vibrant commercial area of Gangnam. With Korean BBQ, the grill is built into the table and every table has its own localized ventilation system. The meat was delicious and there were plenty of side dishes like kimchi as needed.


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