Sunday, August 16, 2009

Korea: Three Days

I'm typing this on the KAL bus from the Coex Hotel to Incheon Airport with a head full of memories from my three day whirlwind tour that took me from Seoul in Northern South Korea down to the South and also points East and West. This time it's proving difficult to pin down my experiences in a few words, but I'll try.

I got out of Taiwan just as Marokot was about to hit the island. After a two month long drought and (see previous post) the highest temperatures in 40 years this was a particularly cruel irony.
OK: Korea. Let's start as I did, at the HUGE Incheon airport, recently voted # 1 in service beating out Changi (Singapore), where I waited on line for immigration for what seemed like hours getting hotter and hotter simply due to the temperature. Meanwhile, heat-sensing cameras were checking everyone for fever: but my problem wasn't fever, it was that PHEW. It was too hot! I quickly found out that air-conditioning in Korea is just that: the air is treated like an honored guest, being gently conditioned to a temperature 1 degree below that of the stifling outside air.

The hotel I was staying at, the Coex Intercontinental (Seoul) had the friendliest check-in lady I have ever met in my life: Joy Moon. I've met a lot of good and helpful hotel workers, but she should be a national treasure! She and I crossed paths at check-in; when I forgot my key card; and at check-out. "I remember you!" she beamed, and didn't even check my ID.
August is the rainy season in Korea, and everywhere you looked, there was greenery. Not the sterile austerity of grasslands, but trees. Lots and lots of trees. Covering (according to my friend Mr Park) 70% of the country. I'm used to the rolling hills of upstate New York, but Korea is similat but different: real mountainous hills, all covered in forest. And startling clusters of large apartment buildings. As we drive from the North to the South of the country, we would drive through wooded hills and beautiful mountains to find BAM!! a cluster of 50 identical apartment buildings. Right in the middle. More later.

Safe travels! Des

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