Night is day, day night/Dream-like state in dream-like land/Seoul, South Korea
We landed in South Korea’s Incheon Airport at 5am local time, 1pm Chicago time. The daylight teased our bodies into moving forward, our brains following behind. Even now I cannot recall what the airport looked like when we disembarked. My memory of it is a result of returning to it later that day. I did note the Krispy Kreme which did not provide the comfort others might feel; instead, slight disappointment.
If you’re like us, however, you have a 10-hour layover and can take the train into the city for breakfast at the Gwangjang Market (shout out to my cousin Nick for the recommendation). This traditional Korean Market is just about an hour from the airport via train. The KLX express train from the airport gets you to Seoul Station in 43 minutes and there we hopped on Line 1 to Jongno 5-ga Station. The train lines and ticket machines are easy to navigate, especially when you select “English”. The round trip travel expense for the excursion was under $20 total for the two of us. The ride from airport to Seoul Station provided a view of the countryside beneath a morning mist.
We arrived to the market at 7:30am. Most of the shops were closed but the food spots were just coming to life. The preparation happens before your eyes and it is fascinating to see how these foods come together-dumplings from dough to assembly to steaming, traditional Bindaetteok from mung bean to batter to fried pancake, processing of whole fish. (More information here: http://danielfooddiary.com/2016/02/20/gwangjangmarket/).
The only customers eating when we got there were 4 Korean businessmen clearly up from the evening before. Unwittingly, we purchased the same bottles of refreshing “water” that they each had to accompany our Bindaetteok. Turns out we were celebrating our arrival to Seoul with soju, a distilled beverage containing ethanol and water (so yeah, water). Jason had soju on his list of things to do in Seoul. We checked it off early. Very early. The fried pancakes were delicious and a perfect food for the future hangover we were working on.
We spent the next couple of hours eating our way through the market as it bustled to life and became quite crowded. As a palate cleanser for our eyes we hopped back on the train and stopped at Jongno 3-ga Station to visit Jongmyo Shrine, the oldest preserved Confuscian shrine and a World UNESCO Heritage site. It was a serene and calming place to visit after the overstimulating market. It is quite a large park full of trees and greenery. We also happened upon a square full of men playing Go.
Then it was back on the train to the airport and off to Sapporo, Japan.