Wednesday, April 25th was the big day – our travel to South Korea on a ONE WAY ticket began…
We got to the airport early to make sure nothing could possibly go wrong and chilled out in the lounge at the airport…we were just so excited to start our trip!
Our itinerary was to leave from Houston and head straight to Tokyo, Japan (approximately a 13 hour flight) with a 5 hour lay-over before getting on the final flight from Tokyo to Busan, South Korea. The funny thing about this trip is that Ryan and I have both taken the trip to Tokyo for various business trips many times over the past couple of years (6 times between the two of us) but we had never done this trip together which made it even more fun! It was great to cheers with our glasses of wine during “dinner” of wine and give each other movie reviews throughout the flight.
While in Tokyo, we had a lot of time to kill so we took a walk around the airport to get some exercise before our next flight, I finished the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy (thanks, Kim!), and we enjoyed some sushi snacks & drinks before heading to Ryan’s favorite part of the Tokyo airport – the massage chairs. This is a bit of a tradition for Ryan anytime he flies through Tokyo, so we got some Japanese Yen and sat down to enjoy! This is how we spent the last 20 minutes of our time in Japan (literally…finished the massage right as they called for us to board the plane to Busan).
We landed in Busan, South Korea around 9:30 PM and it was surprisingly seamless to grab all of our bags, load them on a cart and find our driver to take us to our new apartment. Once we were in the car, it was about an hour drive over a long bridge to get to Geoje island. Once we got to our apartment (which is on the 14th story…we’ve never been in an apartment that is that high which is really cool!), we brought in all of our bags and someone gave us a quick tutorial on how to use our apartment – it’s fairly high tech! We don’t have any keys to get into the apartment, instead we have to enter a code on a key pad to get into the building and then to get into our apartment. All of the appliances are also in Korean, so they gave us a book that has all of the buttons translated for the dish washer, oven, washing machine, tv, lights, etc.
A couple of our friends had come to our apartment earlier that evening to drop off some goodies for us – freshly baked banana bread, baked ziti, coffee – it made us feel very welcome and already start to feel at home…it was wonderful! (Thanks Sam and Mika!) By this point in time, we were totally exhausted so we munched on some food, drank some water and headed to bed.
We were up bright and early the next morning (jet lag has been a bit of a struggle, haha) – hence the sun rise picture of the view from our apartment. We unpacked everything, talked to our families, and then some of our friends (thank you again, Mika!) were gracious enough to take us shopping to get some essentials at the “Home Plus” store – it’s similar to a Target/Walmart so we were able to get set up. They told us that we will have to buy fresh produce every few days because things don’t last very long, so we’ll have to make more frequent trips to the grocery store but I think that’s all part of the experience.
Afterwards, we went exploring in the city and found the grocery stores (thanks to our tour guide, Rachel) and some other fun stores, including the open air market. I’ll have to add some pictures of that in a later post. We also started to get our bearings of how to get around in Okpo which was really helpful. The weather was perfect, so spending the day walking around was great! That evening, we went to dinner at the foreigners club for fish & chip night which was really fun – I never thought that my first meal in Korea would be a British classic, haha, but I think the expat community is a big part of this experience so it was great to meet some new people.
On Saturday, our friends Mika and Sam picked me up to head back to Busan to go to Costco – it was huge and I was able to get some things that we needed. The drive to and from Busan is just beautiful with all of the islands and the water! We also went to their favorite noodle restaurant, too, which was delicious! The jet lag was certainly setting in, though, so our afternoon was a complete with a perfectly wonderful nap! That evening, we went out for Korean BBQ and had an awesome time!
We were definitely feeling the jet lag today, so we had a lazy Sunday morning, but we spent the afternoon hiking Mt. Guksabong. The trail head starts right behind our apartment, so it’s really convenient and it was a fantastic hike! Parts of the trail are really steep and I was struggling for parts of it, haha. We went with our friends, Cory and Rachel, who have brought their 2 dogs with them. Their dogs elicit the most interesting responses from the Koreans – they are terrified of these two dogs! Some of the women would squeal, many of them would get off the trail and hide until we passed. I never expected that but it certainly made the hike even more interesting. The other interesting part of this hike is that at various points on the trail, there is exercise equipment for you to use and all of the Koreans get to the top and start doing their additional exercises, including weighted hoola hoops – too funny! I, on the other hand, was tuckered out from the hike so maybe as I get more fit, I will have some energy to work out more, haha. We got to the top and the view was a bit hazy, but it was still really nice! We can’t wait to hike more often during our time here in Korea.