Seoul, South Korea, April 2017: “Cheaper to take train”, says the rather nice lady at the tourist information desk. She hands me the Seoul subway and metro map, circles the stationI need to change at and I’m on my way to the basement – Incheon Airport Station. First though I need an ATM. The ATM’s here are very different to those in the UK. No buttons to press, its all digital, on screen and very easy for foreigners needing a credit card cash advance to use. Unlike Taipei airport where I couldn’t find any ATM to work, here the first one I come to works flawlessly. Tickets only on the subway, via a ticket machine. Just tap on the digital map the final destination and hey ho, 1 ticket at 4000 Won, about £3.50.
Some first impressions then as the electric train rolls across the causeway towards Seoul city. First the climate – Cool, fresh and sweet smelling air, reminds me of a British spring day. Looking north along the coast towards North Korea and there is a yellow haze, perhaps industrial emissions. The surrounding environment, peppered with housing blocks and towers, is very dark. The hills are shadows, the trees bare and dark green pines line the tracks. Nothing yet that inspires me to grab the camera. Then its all underground again as the train approaches Gimpo, my transfer station to line 5 and final destination, Mokdong.
Better pay attention to the transfer line signs because somehow I’ve made a mistake. I’ve ended up having to pay again. But no matter since its only £1.10 for another ticket and the rest of the ride to Mokdong.
Finally, after 9 hours, I’m on the streets of Seoul albeit in a suburb just to the southwest of the central city area. (Google Map). Another first impression – its rather quiet, not the mayhem I endured in Taipei. There seems a lot more space around here, no sense of claustrophobia as one can experience in such cities as Hong Kong and Taipei. So, I’d better get settled into my Air-BnB room and look for some food….