In January, we decided to take 2 weeks off from our day jobs so that we could finally go to Japan for vacation! Yay! I (Eri) hadn’t been there in about 11 years. I did 2 terms of college in Tokyo, so my Japanese was a bit rusty, but it came back as the trip went along. Lynnette hadn’t been in 15 years (with Japanese skills far beyond rusty, despite studying right up to departure), so both of us were due for a trip.
The very last thing you want to hear when you’re in the airport, waiting to fly out of the country, is that your plane is delayed. So, of course, as we’re sitting there nice and early, eating our airport muffins and drinking coffee, they made an announcement that our flight was delayed. Thankfully, it was only for an hour, but we were happy to finally be on the plane!
We flew Asiana Airlines, which we can’t recommend enough (though we bought the tickets on a 3rd party site, because their website was not agreeable). Our roundtrip tickets came out to around $900 USD a piece, which was an amazing deal. We flew out of NYC into Incheon, and then from Incheon into Osaka the next day. While we were on the plane, they fed us 3 times and were super attentive with drinks, too. It is a long flight though, (around 14 hours) so if you’ve never been on one that long before make sure you bring lots of entertainment for yourself! There were tons of movies and TV shows available in both Korean and English, but I personally ended up watching a Korean movie on my laptop and writing for a bit. I wish I had the magic power to sleep on flights! But I’m pretty sure I was too hype to sleep, anyway.
When we got into Incheon Airport, we promptly got lost for a good 20 minutes. It’s a HUGE airport and we couldn’t figure out where we needed to go at first, mostly because we were exhausted and probably pretty delirious at that point. We eventually found immigration and had to fill out paperwork to get into the country so we could find an airport hotel to sleep in.
Since we were technically on a layover, the airline transferred our suitcases to our next flight, so we just brought stuff in our backpacks for our short 12 hours overnight in Korea. It took a while to find a hotel info desk with a person available, but we booked a room at Incheon Airport Hotel for about $80 USD for the night that included free shuttle service to and from the airport.
We saw a super moon while we were waiting for the shuttle to the hotel! Sadly I couldn’t get a good picture with my phone camera but that thing was HUUUUGEE. Like Majora’s Mask, scary-ass moon looking like it wants to smash into you, huge. There were Japanese tourists in the shuttle with us, also commenting on how insanely huge the moon was. The drive from the airport to the hotel was about 10-15 minutes, but the entire time both of us were sitting there separately wondering why it just looked like New Jersey. Like, we had just taken a 14 hour flight and somehow ended up in New Jersey? But, thankfully, once we turned a corner onto the block our hotel was on it magically became Korea.
After we dropped our bags off, we went to the convenience store across the street and picked up snacks for the night. I needed banana milk in my life and it must have been comical to see our tired asses standing in front of the triangle kimbap for a good 5 minutes while I tried to read things in stilted hangul. Eventually, we managed to pick some out and headed back up to our hotel room.
It was nothing fancy, but it was spacious and clean, but thankfully we had portable chargers with us, because whatever outlets they have in Korea we did not have a converter for! This was totally our fault for not thinking about it beforehand, but we were only there overnight so it wasn’t a huge deal. We both took showers in the hilariously huge bathroom and chilled out for the night and watched some Korean TV. I’m not sure if it was just the time of night we were there or what but I swear to you all we could find on TV were cooking shows, shows with dogs and home shopping channels. I did finally come across a channel playing music videos, which I left on, (mostly because BTS was playing) just for some background noise.
And with that, our exhausting adventurous first night was over!