Tue, May 15, Seoul, South Korea

Arrived in Seoul around 5:30pm, one day later than I left Honolulu. Crossing the dateline was quite uneventful.

Incheon airport is one of my favorites -- well organized, beautiful and clean (maybe fairly new), and connected by rail to Seoul's wonderful subway system. I spent some time surfing the internet at the airport, and getting information about the hotel I had booked.

I found my hotel by 8pm -- fortunately I had read the reviews and new to look down the alleys in the area the information desk had marked for me at the airport. It is near a beautiful gate, Donhwamun, and to get there I walked up a little restaurant alley from the subway station.

The hotel is a hanok -- a Korean traditional house, with only a few rooms grouped around a courtyard. The Internet is good :)

The room is fairly spare. Sleeping is on the floor, as I am familiar with from traditional Japanese hostels.

Unlike in Japan, the heating is under the floor, which makes for a very warm and cozy sleep. It is 14 degrees C here, which is a lot warmer than the -7C when I was here in January, but still a little cool for someone coming from Hawaii.

On the train and subway, most of the people seemed to want to sit anywhere but where I was. But two people in dark suits were happy to sit next to me and talk. One was a businessman, said his business was shipping. He complained about how things were going, and he was on his way to a meeting (at 7pm). Years ago, as a sailor, he had been to Taranto, in Italy. He had also visited Italy later as a tourist. He had also been to Honolulu and Kapalua, Maui.

The inevitable, surprised question always seems to be -- "You are traveling alone?"

In contrast, on Insadong Street, where I ate dinner, there were plenty of foreign tourists, and nobody paid any attention to me.