Korea – Day 1: The Adventure Finding the Guest House

Annyong haseyo!

On Wednesday, I arrived in Seoul late in the afternoon. I came here with just a backpack and a note with a list of guest houses with contact numbers. I didn’t make any reservation for my accommodation prior to the trip. So first thing I did after coming out of the Incheon Airport was exchange some cash in yen to won so I can have the local money to use the phone (booth). I called up the first two guest houses of choice. One is full, and the other one is not answering. I called up the third in the list, the Seoul Guest House, and was answered by a soft-spoken lady (of course in English). I booked a single room with a very cheap price. Anna, the one who answered on the phone, then instructed me how to get to the guest house.

I took the airport limousine bus to Anguk station. I was seated right behind the driver, and took this photo.

While on the bus, I asked somebody sitting behind me if she knows how to speak English. Wow, she’s very fluent. I asked whether I’m already close to my destination stop. She then instructed the bus driver to drop me off Anguk station. That was my first encounter and conversation with the locals.

It was raining when I got off the bus. I looked for a phone booth and called again the guest house. Anna gave me the directions how to get there. Unluckily, I misunderstood one of the instructions, that is getting to Dunkin Donuts. I went to the opposite direction and got lost. I asked people in almost every intersection, and they were so good and kind that they try to help me get to my destination. One lady used her mobile phone to call Anna for directions. So I went back, and continued searching for that Dunkin Donuts. Unfortunately, I went to to somewhere even far, then I met these two lovely young ladies. They let me follow them since they were going to the same direction (toward Mister Donut). They were asking things about me, where I came from, what I am doing in Korea, and so on. Then, I mentioned A Hundred Smiles photo project, and asked them I they would like to participate. And so I took this photo of them.

I found Mister Donut, *phew* at last. I asked the girl at the counter about where I could find a phone booth. She said I can use the store’s phone. Wow. Really? I was quite surprised when she said that. So I called up Anna and told her I’m already in Mister Donut. She said she’s going to meet me there in 5 minutes. While waiting, I was enjoying my cheese bagel and cup of hot cocoa. After 10 minutes, no Anna came. I asked the girl at the counter if it’s the only Mister Donut in the area. She said yes. I waited for another 5 minutes, but still no Anna came. I asked if I can use the phone again. Then, I realized I’m in the wrong store. I said I’m going to take a taxi. The Mister Donut girl helped me getting a taxi outside. I said, no it’s OK I can look for one, but she insisted and told me to just stay inside the store while she waits for a taxi outside. But, I just put my things inside and stayed outside with her. Finally an empty taxi came. She instructed the driver to take me to the guest house. I didn’t know how to thank her, so I gave her my contact card.

The taxi driver stopped in one intersection and called up the guest house. Wow, I didn’t even asked for it. He then pointed a store across the street, and told me to wait there for Anna. I waited for a minute or two, then Anna came with her very big dog, named Ssari (She’s the dog in the guest house’s website).

Finally, I arrived in the guest house. Wow, I’m in a traditional guest house.

Anna showed my my room. I put all my things there then I went straight to the common area. Anna gave me a cup of hot tea, then we talk about my accommodation.

This is common area’s unique and old-fashinoed(?) warming system:

And this is the photo of my room from outside (the door on the right side).

Anyways, I’m staying in this guest house for 4 nights. I decided not to go to Busan, and just explore Seoul and its neighboring towns. And, as what I’ve said in my tweets, I have an instant admiration of this place and the people. They are so willing to help a stranger like me. I feel so welcomed here, and I hope to enjoy the rest of my stay.

’til next time – Day 2 blog.

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2 Comments

  1. WOW! Glad your safe. You’re so brave, Jes, to travel alone and doesn’t even know anyone there! Admirable! I am drown with envy! Haha

    Posted April 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink
  2. excellent photos – what atmosphere! looking forward to following you around _/|\_ Seiun Hosei

    Posted April 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink