My ID: 8:48pm, Sunday, 04 September 2005: Seoul-Incheon International Airport
Cathay Pacific flight CX420 from Taipei
My Initial Descent into Korea came as part of a trip I was taking around Asia. Lucky for me—or so I thought—I had met a group of Koreans while I was in Thailand a few weeks before I was scheduled to get to Seoul, and they said they would be happy to meet me and show me around once I got there.
I had no trouble finding the “limousine bus” to central Seoul (which, for the record, is nothing like a limousine, but efficient nonetheless). After I dropped my bag at the Sinchon guest house I was to call home for the next few days, the people I had met the week before in Bangkok were on their way to pick me up.
A girl named Soo Jin, who wanted to be called Sarah, was driving. We were headed first to a department store, and then across town to the trendy neighborhood of Apgujeong. I was impressed by the density of everything—I just remember being overwhelmed by…imagery. Buildings covered with signs, more buildings, signs and more signs. I thought about how someone had once told me that Korean was easy to learn to read, and at that moment I told myself I’d try to learn it.
But while I was highly impressed by the Seoul I saw passing by out the window, I was equally scared for my life. This was in the early days of navigation, and Soo Jin had a console attached to her dashboard. It seemed the entire time that the directions were a bit slow, and so besides the fact that the console was positioned at the side of the dashboard and therefore here eyes were focused anywhere but the actual road, we also seemed to make a habit out of right turns from left hand lanes.
Luckily, thanks to some observant and quick-reflex other drivers, we made it to Apgujeong for a fun night out. But when it was time to turn in, I high-tailed it to the Metro’s Line 3, not wanting to play navigation roulette twice in the same day.