We arrived in Seoul yesterday weary eyed but excited to experience the culture and follow this week’s APPT Main Event. After thirteen hours and a layover in Hong Kong, myself and colleague Mateusz Pater made our way through customs to be greeted by our driver, a friendly local named Kim.
“This is the greatest airport in the world” he insisted, and it turns out he was right. The Seoul-Incheon International Airport has been rated the best airport worldwide by Airports Council International for the last nine years in a row.
Being this blogger’s first time out of Australia, it was great to soak up the sights of a beautiful foreign city as we travelled to the hotel. Knowing effectively zero words in Korean, the language barrier wasn’t too much of an issue while checking in, although the lovely receptionist did manage to sign us up to a membership of some sort while we just stood there nodding in agreement.
Thankfully we linked up with another poker reporter, the all-knowing Remko Rinkema, who played the part of tourist guide and hailed us a taxi. He showed off by speaking Korean as we admired the views through the windows and before we knew it we’d arrived at Gyeongbokgung Palace.
We only had 30 minutes before it closed but it was just enough time to enjoy the breathtaking architecture. Built in 1395, unfortunately much of the palace was destroyed by Imperial Japan in the early 20th century, but work is being done to restore the structure to its former glory.
Then it was time to eat. Rinkema continued to lead the way as we caught the subway to City Hall Station before wandering down an array of alleyways in search of some local cuisine. We picked a spot for some authentic Korean barbecue and the feast began.
The waitress put a flame to the hot plate in the middle of the table and presented us with countless plates of food. Pork belly and other meats, kimchi jjigae, and a bunch of great side dishes. Not only was the food amazing but it was very affordable compared to back home.
With full stomachs and feeling revitalized we were off to journey through the street markets. Stall after stall of everything you could imagine, and most importantly, food stands. We grabbed some hotteok, a traditional sugar pancake, to top off an already epic adventure.
Finally it was back to the hotel exhausted but inspired by the experience. We needed an early night to prepare for the poker reporting today, envious of the locals, and hopeful that the poker visitors will make the most of their time here in Seoul.