It is not even 4AM yet and I’m wide awake in a strange bed. My son and I landed in Seoul a few hours ago, tired and hungry after a long airport limousine bus ride into the city from the Incheon Airport where we were plopped down into a bustling area at shortly after 7:00 in the evening. Trying to remember our directions to the guest house where we’re staying was not bad–I had been here several times before–but this was my first time arriving into this area of town after the long, grueling flight. Finding the place was not too difficult–people here are very friendly and willing to help out a stranger, even if they don’t know a word of English. I forgot my Korean phrase book at home. Oops! And my son forgot his dress shoes, but that’s another matter. Technology helps; smartphones abound here. After all, this is where LG and Samsung are headquartered. They guy waiting on the corner brought up his smartphone map and showed me which direction to go. Luckily, I had written on a piece of paper in Korean Hangul the name of my destination.
We’re here now and checked-in at the guest house, a little room with two small beds, but comfortable. And they have provided wireless for my laptop excursions, like this chance to write at 4AM because my body clock is still some 15 hours different from here, meaning I’m going on as if it is early afternoon. This should surprise nobody who is a well seasoned traveler to faraway locations, however it never ceases to amaze me each time this happens.
After checking-in, we ventured out in the local neighborhood to find a place to eat. Like at home in Minneapolis, the mid-winter snow is also very lacking in Seoul this year, although it is a bit colder here. Walking about in my vest with no jacket, the cold air woke me up; this left the only remaining basic need all the more stark–I was very hungry. We found a Korean fastfood-like place called 2900 which was quite good and inexpensive. It was named 2900 after their phone number. We both had some variety of Bim-bim-bap, a rice/vegetable mixture. The accompanying little bowl of soup was both warm and comforting after that chill air.
Besides the original motivation for this trip, I hope to capture some of the images of Seoul and combine those with my previous visit here in 2007 to create a book much in the same spirit of One Hundred Views of Beijing. I expect it will be called One Hundred Views of Seoul. Part of my interest in these images will be a study of the use of color, the meaning which is applied to it, and how it is interpreted. The toilets at the Incheon airport for example had red and green symbols for women and men, respectively, a use of color I have not seen (or noticed) before in the states for male/female markers. I will keep my eye out to see if this use of color in this way is prevalent. And, we will see if my 8mp smartphone camera will do that image any justice; I was reluctant to get out my big camera in the middle of all that airport security.