I am all about slow travel so when the possibility of a 21 hour layover in South Korea became an option I decided to do it since it was the complete opposite.
Going from Mongolia to “anywhere in Southeast Asia” I knew I would have some type of layover. Once I picked Chiang Mia I started looking for flights on SkyScanner. One option was an early flight with a six layover in South Korea and I would be in Thailand by nightfall. I don’t mind an early morning flight but they can be super stressful in a foreign city. My other option was a late afternoon flight with a 21 layover in Korea and then leave for Thailand the next evening. I have a friend from graduate school in Korea so perhaps I could visit them while there. After confirming that my American passport would let me in I booked my ticket.
My friendly graciously helped me book a place that was super easy to get to from the airport. I don’t have any data on my phone at the moment so I had to use a picture of a map. I got off the metro and walked one way and didn’t see anything. I asked someone for help but they didn’t live in the area so I decided to go the other. I saw the guesthouse right away. For a late dinner I grabbed a burger and fries while listening to the Beach Boys. The dinner also included this incredible cider that was so good I got two. My Google searched helped me learn it is part of the Coco-Cola Company.
I got a decent amount of sleep and then headed straight towards a coffee shop. I had some time to myself before I was meeting up with my friend but didn’t have enough time to go to a new area so I decided to explore the neighborhood I was staying in. I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything interesting to photograph but I reminded myself its all about perspective. Well lo and behold I stumbled upon incredible street art that deserves its own post. Even without the street art the neighborhood had its own charm.
Also during my wanderings I stumbled upon a Taco Bell which might not sound that exciting but “Taco Bell” is on my list for when I go back to the states so seeing one in South Korea brought me utter delight. I got tears in my eyes eating a Crunchwrap supreme.
I haven’t seen my friend since we graduated about two and a half years ago. It was great to see him and catch up. I requested to see “something famous” so he took me somewhere that I don’t remember the name of. He had never been there too so he was thankful I helped him see a new area.
We were both hungry so we got some snacks that included pomegranate juice, fried baby crabs, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. We were both happy with our choices.
Our main meal was Korean style hot pot. It was perfect hot pot weather. And of coarse it was very delicious! At the end there was this rice porridge which I had never seen before but it delicious.
For dessert we go “long ice cream.” From our poses you can tell we both studied theatre!
When we got off the metro after lunch the world was covered in beautiful white snow! I was incredibly happy as it was snowing but not deathly cold like Mongolia. Knowing I would be in Thailand in just a few hours I took it in knowing I wouldn’t be seeing snow for some time.
It was a short but great trip and I think part of the reason was that I put no pressure on myself. I only had 21 hours and eight of those hours I would be sleeping. I really just went with the flow and enjoyed the ride. Knowing someone definitely helped and if I didn’t have a friend there I would have tried to connect with some through Couchsurfing. Knowing a local always helps! Seoul definitely meets my standard of a good travel adventure: I want to go back!
If you ever happen to have a long layover in South Korea there have tours you have take. And I believe some are even free! And if you don’t feel like a tour the airport is absolutely amazing and includes showers… and a Taco Bell.
What is the longest layover you ever had? Have you ever been to South Korea?