A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Arriving at Incheon Airport... in Seoul... there is another airport in Incheon... it's called something else

This post might be an exercise in trial and error, since all blogger's helpful prompt buttons are in Korean.

So I arrived in Seoul at a bit past six last night, after a very restless time-zone hopping flight. The biggest move and biggest change in my life so far was personified by 14 hours on a 747. Korean Air is incredibly comfortable though, and thanks to the mini touch display LCD screens built into the seats, after Lucky Number Slevin , An Inconvenient Truth, and a few Korean romantic comedies, the hours just melted away. Meanwhile, a sour-faced Korean woman in the aisle seat quickly snatched up the extra pillows from the vacant one between us and used them to prop up her feet while she played Tetris on her digital camera phone. Go figure.

My boss at the English Academy met me at the airport with his young son, named either Paul or Pol. We talked about dinosaurs and he had a nap on my shoulder. Paul, not Martin. The drive to Siheung took about an hour. The whole layout of the small parts of these cities that I've seen so far make things look very much built around the cars and freeways. My apartment is small and quiet and came with a pair of bamboo slippers that say "cozy at home" on them. It's next to the biggest church in town, which spreads out on the top of a small hill near the street. What kind of church it is though I haven't been able to figure out. Before I left, my best friend's father told me that there's a preponderence of Presbyterians (sorry, but that's alliteration that you can't beat) in Korea. Maybe their example might shine down from the hill, and inspire me to be frugal with my millions of won.

After we hauled my bags up to the apartment and I took a look around (the term 'tour' seems like hyperbole since I more or less just leaned on my heels and spun to see the corners) Martin took me out to a Korean barbeque restaurant. Each table has a small charcoal grill pit built into the middle. You order meat specifically, beef ribs and pork and the like, and they otherwise bring over a bunch of small side dishes of kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) bean curd, pickled radish, soup etc. When they bring the meat to your table, the server cuts it and you cook it yourself, with them occasionally returning to exchange the metal grilling plate for a cleaner one. I showed off my terrible chop stick handling when the time came to place the meat bits into lettuce leaves, add chili sauce and the various vegetable dishes and roll them into little packets and cram down in one mouthful. Things got a little messy.

Afterwords I came back to my new little corner of Siheung and slept like I've never slept before. Today my biological clock is more or less back on track, and Martin is going to take me on a tour of the city.

I'll post pictures when I have them.

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