The start of a new adventure
Trip Start Aug 28, 2009
48Trip End Sep 28, 2010
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Where I stayed
My studio apartment in Maetan-dong
Accepting the fact I wouldn’t be able to travel over with her, I began planning a two week trip through southern Spain
Our flight from Dubai was delayed by about two and a half hours, which meant we arrived at Seoul’s Incheon airport right on sunset. The final part of the flight was very scenic, passing over South Korea’s scenic western isles. We were met at the airport by someone from Ania’s university, and after picking up a couple more students we jumped on a bus for Suwon, just 40km south of Seoul. This was where Ania’s university was located, and where we would be spending the next 12 months. My first impressions of South Korea were pretty much as I imagined, with freeways bumper to bumper with traffic. As Ania was getting accustomed to the Neon lights outside, an American student nearly knocked me out of my seat as she scrambled to take a photo of a Mcdonalds. Of all the photos to be taken out of the window, that was her first.
I left Ania at Suwon’s Hotel Castle, where I was met by my new boss Pete
Our first week in Suwon was spent settling in, getting used to our surroundings and seeing a little of the city. It wasn’t long before a few of South Korea’s little quirks became apparent, including the presence of meat in every single dish (the biggest challenge), traffic lights which seemed to have no set pattern, plastic tables and chairs outside convenience stores, and the obsession with mobile phones and small dogs. More surprising was Suwon itself though. For a city of over a million people, there really didn’t seem much to it. Apart from an impressive 18th century fortress and palace, the city was basically a giant village of tower blocks. There was very little in the way of a city centre and it immediately felt like there was almost nothing to see or do.
After a couple of days to get over the jetlag we found the energy to visit the aforementioned fortress. Hwaseong was the original wall surrounding Suwon, 4.5km long and more than 95% complete. We began our self guided tour at 'Paldalmun’, the southern gate, before climbing up hundreds of stairs to ‘Paldalsan’, the highest point in the centre of Suwon at 143m. There was quite a view from here, out over the sprawling tower blocks to the hills in the distance
Whilst having to wait a few weeks for my visa was a little annoying, it did give me opportunity to settle in and wind down after a ridiculously hectic summer with EAC in Exeter and Edinburgh. Whilst Suwon didn’t seem the most exciting place in the world, I was there with Ania and set up in a cozy studio apartment with high speed internet, which is all I really needed. However, once the jetlag passed I began to get itchy feet, and looked into my first trip to the country’s capital, Seoul.