Blog Post by: Fatana Temory
Greetings from Seoul!
After a 12-hour flight we arrived in Seoul, South Korea for our extended layover between Los Angeles and Jakarta and a short introduction to Korean culture.
Our first group meal set the stage for a great 13-hour layover with a breakfast of bibimbap, a traditional “mixed rice” Korean meal consisting of eggs, meat, rice, kimchi (pickled cabbage), namul (spinach salad), and gochujang (hot pepper paste). (To see more of our gastrodiplomacy journey, be sure to follow us on Instragram @gastrompd where we will share our culinary experience throughout Southeast Asia.)
As an airport known for extended layovers, Incheon Airport offers free transit and transfer tours as a glimpse of Korean culture for travelers. Our 5-hour Seoul Culture Transit Tour was a great way to spend our day in the capital city. Our first stop was the Gyeongbokgung (Prospering Virtue) Palace, the second largest palace in South Korea, originating in the Joseon Dynasty.
Following our palace visit the group headed towards the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and shopping center on Insadong Street. While walking around Insadong Street, Danielle noticed the juxtaposition of Korean street vendors, new modern buildings, and well-known American businesses. She described this as a first-hand look at the effects of globalization, how South Korea can manage to combine tradition and modernity for an international audience, all within one city.
We wish we had more time to experience even more of the city, but we were glad we had the opportunity for such a small glimpse. Once we returned to the airport for our onward flight to Jakarta, we noticed the Korea Traditional Cultural Center, providing live music, authentic crafts and entertainment for travelers. We walked by just in time for a live traditional Korean performance of Chamber Music, including Sanjo (free-style solo) and Gagok (lyric song cycles). It was interesting to see such a presentation of culture within one international airport. It seems there is an effort to present Korean culture to travelers by any means possible, even if only for a few hours.
Next stop, Indonesia!