While finding shelter in a book store from the icy winter wind last weekend, I leafed through colorful guide books about Seoul. Of all the architectural oddities I saw, Kring caught my eye and I decided to pay a visit. It had a Swiss cheese façade and inside the foyer a guide handed me a DSLR photo permit. For such a large building, it felt a bit sparse, but the absence of crowds and clutter heightened the impact of the architecture.
On the second floor café, Barret and I picked up a coffee which was ridiculously cheap- only a 2,000 won ‘donation’. Then we chose a table beneath a large domed light that looked like it was melting from its’ own heat. It felt hip and hopefully, by proxy, we were hip as well.
The three hour subway trip to Incheon Station was chilly and grueling. However, inside the warm cocoon of a bus, I was safely ensconced amongst a crowd of elderly Korean tourists. As we wound our way through the curiously beautiful city of Incheon- through the foggy ports with their international cargo and across the numerous bridges which stitch the city together, I dropped my pen. When I went to search for it, I hit my head on a plastic handle. The loud thud reverberated over the driver’s speech and I could feel my face turn red as all the passengers looked at me. The person behind found my pen while the woman to my right offered a candy and a bemused smile.
Halfway through the trip we passed over Incheon Bridge, which I had wanted to see ever since I saw a program about its’ construction on the Discovery Channel. The bridge leads to Yeongjong Island, which houses the Incheon International Airport. When I first entered Korea through this gateway, I was quickly whisked away by a driver holding a misspelled sign. Since then I had presumed that the island existed only there for the airport. However, after the Incheon City Tour, I realized there was an unexpectedly inhabited side of the island.
Along the coast were restaurants with translucent plastic tarps stretched taunt over simple frames. I was desperate to exit the bus and photograph everything we passed, but none of the other passengers had signaled the driver to stop and I wasn’t quite sure what to say. So the bus barreled on and butterscotch candy continued flowing in my direction. I was clawing my seat with anxiety and trying to form a plan of action when we pulled over for a second bathroom break (once again, thank goodness for ajummas). After a round a miscommunication with the driver I realized that another tour bus would not be coming, so from there on out I would need to catch the city bus back. I was reluctant to leave my caring ladies high and dry while they were in the bathroom, but I had to take care of my own business so to speak.
During my coastal meander I sidestepped washed up Styrofoam blocks, walked across unsteady metal planks, pushed though bushy overgrowth, and surveyed a wrecked boat. When my journey concluded at a deserted bus stop across from a scattering of chickens and goats, I knew I had just experienced something quite unique. It was a million miles away from jet setters and duty free shopping and the only rumbling engine I heard was from the empty city bus turning the corner.
How to get there:
Kring – Line 2 Samseong Station, Exit # 3. Walk straight, the building will be on the right.
Incheon City Tour – Line 1 Incheon Station, Exit #1. Upon exiting there is a tourism booth on the left. Purchase the tickets inside (7,000 won for the airport tour) and the bus departs from in front of the booth.