The adventure has officially begun! After a 12 hour plane ride I arrived in Incheon, S. Korea very tired, but also very excited. We stayed in a guest house about 10 minutes from the airport, and I was happy to get to room with Luisa for the first few nights of the trip. We were basically let loose on Korea, with the only instructions being that we had to meet up for dinner Wednesday night. We set out in a huge group, which eventually became Luisa, myself, and Annin. After a very confusing and slightly stressful 2 hour commute from the hotel to center Seoul, we decided to find one of the three palaces in the city.

Subway entrance from Incheon Airport

We found the Western palace, and it was really fun. There were a ton of buildings and the complex seemed to go on forever. We had a good time hanging out in front of some ponds in the shade, because it was pretty hot. After an hour or so we wandered away to look for food, and spent the rest of our time exploring little markets and shops.

Luisa and Me in front of the Palace

On our way back to the hotel we hit a few speed bumps. We got off at the wrong subway stop, almost broke a subway card machine, and then I left my wallet in an airport bathroom (don’t worry, I got it back without incident.) After returning to home base, we went out for Korean BBQ with the whole group, which was pretty good, and then I pretty much fell straight asleep. Jet lag is a huge pain in the butt.

The next day most of the group went to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, but I opted to explore the city again with a few other people. We walked about 4 miles up a huge hill to get to Seoul Tower. Along the way I accidentally walked into the middle of a tv drama shoot. Whoops.

Korean Drama Shoot?

Once on top of the hill, Luisa and I decided to go to the top of the tower, even though we’re both afraid of heights. It turned out to be totally worth it, as the view was spectacular. For those of you who don’t know much about Seoul, the surrounding area is gorgeous. The city sits int he middle of some amazing mountains, right next to the ocean. It’s quite a sight.

Once firmly on the ground again, we rode the gondola back to the bottom of the hill (for my friends who are Boys Over Flowers fans, yes, the gondola they took!).

We ate some noodles and then Luisa and I split from the group to go find the Hello Kitty Cafe and explore the University district. On our way out of the subway we stopped to ask some Japanese girls for directions, which was exciting for me, because I got to practice my Japanese. I definitely need more practice. Anyway, they started leading us to the Cafe, and along the way we were stopped by a huge crowd in front of a shoe store. Turns out k-pop idol group Miss A were doing a fan meeting. We saw my favorite member, Suzy, and I was super excited! Unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of her face, but she’s super cute, and unbelievably tiny.

Suzy from Miss A (in blue skirt)

The fan signing got a bit overwhelming, so Luisa and I said goodbye to the Japanese girls and found our way to the Hello Kitty Cafe!

Hello Kitty Cafe!

It was everything we wanted it to be. Pink, cute, tasty, awesome.

We probably spent about an hour there, soaking in the cuteness and taking a breather. Afterwards we wandered a bit more, and hopped back on the subway to head home.

We were too tired to do much of anything else, and so the next morning we boarded our plane to Ulaanbaatar (UB) Mongolia, which is where I’m writing this email. I’ll write about UB a bit later, because I’m still a bit overwhelmed, and it’s almost breakfast time.