Day 10 - Korea Day - ๐ŸŒ MWT 2017

Wednesday September 6th, 2017
Hiked 6.4 miles

3:00 am

Seoul International Airport

Apparently the Olympics will be here next year.
I don't remember how much sleep I got on the way here, but it was not much. The Airline that took me here is an emerging discount airline from Asia.  There slogan is, "Now everyone can fly extra long." There were no electric outlets of any kind, no TV, no extras at all.  Just seats.  Plenty of leg room though.  It must be tedious for the flight attendants to do their safety check in Thai, Korean, and English. As soon as the wheels touched down I heard rapid unclinking of seat belts.  Even people getting up and getting their things together while we were still rolling on the taxiway.


Robot cleaning the airport floor.

When I got off the plane in Korea I noticed a cash exchange booth.  I handed her all the Thai bhat that I had left.  She pulled out that same 1000 bhat bill and she said, "Thai bank won't take like that."  I tried to explain to her I got it like that from their bank, but I just got back a blank look and, "Sorry" as she pushed it back to me on the counter.

 I am sitting here on a bench in the middle of the airport with my keyboard out recounting some events.  Rudely enough a young Korean woman reaches over with her camera phone and takes a picture of my keyboard and phone screen.  She looks startled that it made the shutter sound and turned away shyly. She appeared like she was sending the picture to someone.  I ask her if she liked my keyboard.  I showed her it folded up.  She fiend that she was interested. I motioned toward her phone and ask what it was. She flashed me a glance.  I acted like I knew what it was.  It was the foreign version of our Samsungs.  I told her I was from USA.  She said, "Uh huh." I ask her where she was from. She replied, "Here." I said, "Nice, right here in Korea." She seemed very shy and although I thought it was rude to take a picture of my screen and what I am typing she doesn't seem to mean harm. Maybe just curious if she could translate it. Of course I am sitting in the middle of an airport overseas typing on a keyboard.
Korea at night from my hotel. 

The hostel I reserved is a good 45 minutes away in the center of Seoul.  I am overwhelmed with the difference in language so I am not feeling like the train is an adventure.  A cab would cost me between 90,000 won and 120,000 won.  It sounds like a lot in any currency.  I am thinking I will just hang out at the airport awhile.  I did get an email from the hostel shortly after 2am asking when I would be there.  It is nice that they checked up on me.  I wrote them back and said I understand I will not get a refund, but overestimated the commute to the hostel so I will be staying at the airport.   I am waiting for the noodle shop to open so I can have some Udon noodles.  I am impressed with their airport.  They can flush toilet paper down the toilet, and their airport smells just like a brand new computer. Everything is super clean and everyone is very diligently working.  There are military men with automatic weapons pacing the place, but they do not look like they expect any surprises. They are usually always talking to each other as they march by.
Dancing robots.. cool.

9:50 pm

I gave up trying to find english subtitles.
So I got some sleep sitting up in a chair at the airport for a few hours.  I would estimate about three hours.  My back and neck are a bit sore, but I felt mildly refreshed.  About 5 am I walked over to the noodle shop and had some tasty noodles.  I noticed the locals where using the chop sticks to put the noodle nicely on the spoon and eat it effortlessly.  I noticed two others doing this. The rest were simply lifting the noodles to their mouths with their sticks. It was impossible for me to do. I resorted to just eating the noodles with my chop sticks.

I am starting to feel sympathy for every foreigner.
Then I went and got a coffee and talked to my family on the phone. I realized my plane does not take off until 4 am.  That was just enough time to get a hotel room, shower, sleep, and do laundry.

Before I walked to the hotel I needed to send off some t-shirts to my family.  I had never felt so unable to communicate in my life.  It was a great experience and pretty much made me feel completely stupid trying to communicate to others that do not speak my language.

Korea during the day from my hotel room.
I figured that postal addresses are pretty universal so I put the address on a box and walked up to the counter.  He said something in Korean and pointed at the box. I didn't understand.  He pointed at some words in Korean on a packing slip.  I didn't understand.  I whipped out Google translate and was holding up the line while I unlocked my phone, so I stepped aside with my Google wonder-toy. It flipped back and forth between contents and container.  I figured it must mean what is inside the box. That is silly I thought.  I told the man at the counter t-shirts.  He understood that and made a note on the computer.  He ask me if I needed insurance.  I said no.  He ask if I wanted priority.  I said no.  He pointed to 17,000 won on the register and said, "2-3 weeks ok."

All I understand is 17,000 won
I paid seventeen thousand won and was glad to go lay my head down. I got on Hotels.com and found one for $60 US within .7 miles of my location that had laundry facilities. My legs needed stretching so I decided to walk to it. The sidewalks are very nice in Korea.  Everything is kept very clean.  It is a lot like I picture Japan to be.  The air is humid and the temperature is perfect right now. My hotel is in the middle of a big stack of hotels on the other side of the island.

When I was looking for the reception desk I ran into another tourist that was American running around with Google translate trying to read signs.  He said there was an office on the second floor.  I had already circled the building so I figured I would go up with him.  I think his name was Kevin from New York.  There was an office with one man working at a pile of paperwork inside a tiny room with a sign written in permanent marker that said Reception. I ask if this was the Airportel Hotel, and he replied it was.  It was not Kevin's hotel so he continued on his search.

When I was checking in I ask about the laundry facilities, as that is why I chose this particular place. He kinda laughed and continued to get my keycard. I ask again where the laundry facilities are and he says, "You wait till morning." I realized
he thinks I want laundry service because I am standing next to a laundry machine in his office. His wife entered the office shortly after this and I ask her in English of course.  She said, "Now?"  I nodded yes and showed her it said laundry services AND laundry facilities on site. She took my keycard from me and said she had to upgrade my room.  I ask it if would be a charge and she said no.

Then I ask where I could buy laundry-soap.  She laughed and smiled. I ask again almost the same way and she replied, "Now?"  I said yes.

Try to figure this out, took me 30 minutes to get a wash started.
She walked over immediately and poured me some laundry soap into a dixie cup.

Before I left I had to confirm, "The washer is in the room?" She clearly said yes.

Sure enough the washer was in the room so I had a chance to wash all my clothes, but figuring it out took me a half hour of squatting naked trying to Google english manual for a Korean model washer. I placed all my clothes with the exception of one sock I missed, tried out this new robotic butt washing machine on the toilet, and took a nice hot shower.

So many different settings.  So cool. 
While my laundry finished I watched an American movie with Korean voice-overs and thought it made Americans sound more angry. There was no dryer so I laid out my clothes to dry. Hopefully the air conditioning helps dry out the air I thought. Then I got about 6 hours of sleep. I woke up and turned on the TV to the first channel and it was a show about the cuteness of raising a toddler.  It showed the dad and child in precarious situations, playing tricks on each other, how to pull a tooth by tying dental floss around the tooth and bobbing the child on the head while you yank. There were two hours of episodes and I have to admit after watching it I kind of want to have more kids.

I am more hungry than tired right now.  I need to finish drying my clothes with this high powered hair dryer and grab a bite to eat before my flight.  See a little of Korea at night.