1 April 2013

Going Home - Gangnam Style, Saturday 30th

Spa On Air, Incheon, Seoul
Spa On Air, Incheon, Seoul
 Leaving the searing heat of northern Thailand, it was refreshing to arrive in Seoul, South Korea early in the morning with temperatures just slightly above freezing. I had traveled overnight in shorts and a t-shirt and headed to the 'Spa On Air" on the lower level of the airport to freshen up and change into warmer clothes.

Spa On Air, Incheon, Seoul

Spa On Air, Incheon, Seoul
The spa charges 15,000 KW ($15) to access the hot pool, cold pool, sauna, steam room, showers and change-rooms with a well stocked vanity (I only needed to purchase a razor and tooth brush). For an additional 12,000 KW you can have a single bed in your own small room to sleep and time-adjust. I opted to just shower, shave and change, to take advantage of my 12 hour layover and see some of Seoul on a 5 hour sightseeing excursion offered from the airport by OMI Travel.

Magical Mystery Tour
Cheonggyecheon Waterway
 Jeans and a sweatshirt were enough to combat the chill on this sunny, but crisp morning. The twelve of us boarded the tour bus at the main terminal that would take us and our guide to downtown Seoul. We visited the Cheonggyecheon waterway, a 5km stretch of restored river that became a shanty town after WWII and had been filled in for many years. 
Korea National Folk Museum

Korea National Folk Museum
Next was the Korea National Folk Museum and Gyeongbokgung - the royal palace built in the Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1897)  by King Taejo. As much as 60% of it was destroyed by Japan in the early 20th century. It has been gradually restored since then.




Gyeongbokgung
Gyeongbokgung
Zodiac - Ox



    
  






Bibimbap
Insadong
 Lunch was included in the tour price of $50.00 and I had Bibimbap, a Korean dish of vegetables and rice in a bowl, in a litle restaurant off Insadong, a shopping area with many antique and traditional Korean craft stores. We had about 90 minutes of free time to browse around, but I had room in my bag for nothing much more than a postcard! We headed back out to Incheon (ICN) the main airport for Seoul. The tour was very good value, I would highly recommend it and it's a great way to pass some time - many connections through Seoul seem to have a long layover in at least one of the directions. 


As I write this we are 37,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean on our 5700 mile journey to Seattle. It has been an incredible trip and I shall be home in a few hours - ready to start planning the next one!

4 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing! as my self going to have long layover during the day for 11 hour! just wonder for immigration stuff since i am only US permanent resident hmmm

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  2. Hello Fitri,

    South Korean immigration was not a problem at all, getting stamped into the country with proof of onward travel (12 hours later) did not seem to be unusual. The airport seems proficient in accommodating passengers with longer layovers. I highly recommend taking advantage of your time there. Les

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  3. Hi Les,
    I was curious if you booked in advance at the elephant nature park? I'm planning on going there in November and just wanted to find out more. They have some notices on their website that there are fake enp websites so I am wary of reserving/booking online.
    I also think you blog is great. I can't wait to go!
    Thanks for your advice!
    Jessica

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  4. Hi Jessica,

    I did book in advance, about 3 or 4 months out, once I had decided on the dates I wanted to be there. As this was the primary purpose of my visit, it also allowed me to shop around for air fares once I had my dates booked. I used www.elephantnaturepark.org to make my booking but there is also the newer and more comprehensive website www.saveelephant.org , either of these will get you through to the ENP office. If you have any other questions, you can contact me directly at leshayter@gmail.com
    Thanks,

    Les

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