South Korea was my first solo trip ever. Numerous trips before had always been with a friend or a group and I always found myself drifting off by myself to explore. Why South Korea?
I loved watching Korean films. Oldboy was the first one I watched and as disturbing as it was, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Soon I delved deep into every Korean movie I could find on Netflix. The quirkiness and dark humor is what I loved the most about these films.
In preparation, I decided to try to learn to speak Korean. A friend suggested a website called Conversation Exchange. This site offers three different types of exchange, face to face, pen pal, or text and voice chat. I chose to meet people in person to have a one on one chat, which seemed way easier. I met a few students who where in San Francisco attending an ESL school to learn English. I became good friends with most of them and luckily met up with 2 while in Korea.
The day came for my departure and I was so nervous I felt like I was going to puke. I kept asking myself why did I decide to go alone? With a 12 hour flight I had some time to calm myself down.
Exiting the airport I found the bus depot and knew which bus I needed to get into Seoul. After an hour and a half ride ($13.50 ride), I started feeling nervous again. Slowly everyone started getting off the bus and I was the lone rider. Did I miss my stop? Oh the relief to see Itaewon, my stop! By now it was nearing 10pm so it was very dark. Luggage in tow, I set off to find my apartment I was renting from Airbnb. I turned down a narrow cuvy street looking for an address or a street name but there were none. My directions were written in English so everyone I asked to help couldn't read it. I learned a big lesson here, always have your hotel or apartment written in the native language. Now I take a snapshot of the address. Anyways, it was dark, people were sparse, I was sweating from the heat and my nerves, and the panic was starting to set in. My directions did show a photo of a staircase that led to the apartment. After about 30 minutes I found one but it was pitch black. Now I was scared! So I used one hand to hold my luggage and the other to feel my way up the stairs. About halfway up I found a little lit keypad and entered the code I was given. Thankfully it opened and I crept inside. So it looked like the photos I saw online so this must be the place. I was so creeped out that the entire night I layed in bed starting at the front door.
The apartment was so perfect, costing me $55 a night! It also had a full kitchen, WiFi, and a washing machine. The train station was only a few blocks away so it was super convienant. I was super happy to say the least!
All my photos were taken on an IPhone 4 and some are very "Instagramed" because this was before I had a nice camera.