(A self portrait from one of the many sidewalk media towers. You can take a pic of yourself and email to anyone right there from the sidewalk. Check out the background - except for a few black-haired folks walking past, you'd never know we were in Seoul.)
So... I finally made it to Seoul!!!!
Mental note: when leaving for lifelong-awaited journey to visit birthplace, don't start the day out with 2 large starbucks mugs full of strong coffee and only a tiny yogurt. By lunchtime, you'll just be a dizzy, sweaty mess... with stomach problems.
It wasn't until the Frankfurt to Seoul leg of the trip, about an hour into the flight, when I started to calm down - thanks to the stupid, mindless comedy: Bride Wars. Thank you, Kate Hudson. You helped take my mind off the enormity of this trip, and you gave me a break from the fun of the budget spreadsheet I was working on. A couple more hours of work, then 3-4 hours of dozing off, and I was descending into Incheon.
I met Andy at the hotel, and minutes later, we were at a nearby restaurant, eating a mind-blowingly hot and spicy chicken stew lunch with potatoes and glass noodles. Yum. Needless to say, our noses were a-drippin' and our foreheads a-sweatin'. But when I looked at the other Korean customers, they were blowing their noses and wiping their foreheads too, so I didn't feel like as much of a spice wimp. And, I even ate the kimchi. Okay only half. Okay just 2 bites.
Next: we took the subway to Insadong, the main artsy/shopping district, where my head exploded from all the souvenir trinkets, ceramic vases, wooden and jade sculptures... and fucking people. Yes, Seoul has 20 million people and I swear that they are all following me wherever I go. I guess I can't complain since it's the first time I've actually "blended in" and looked like the locals. Actually, I'll be relishing this until the second I head back to the land of cows and blondes where there are maybe 5 Asians in total, including me, and the other 4 are in the restaurant business.
What I won't be relishing, however, is the goddamn heat. Apparently, Seoul is a jungle. It's ~90F (~33C)and something like 60-70% humidity. Okay, it's no Singapore. But, the air is definitely thick enough to cut with Korean meat scissors.