Our journey began without much difficulty. We had an easy trip to O’Hare Terminal 5, followed by an equally easy time to get our boarding passes (they couldn’t be electronic or pre-printed) and through security. We stopped for some food at Wow Bao and then repaired to the Air France lounge to eat. The lounge was quite small and quite crowded, so we soon hopped over to the British Airways lounge for a drink before getting on the plane.
Virginia was in first class, which was insanely decadent (even by the standards of my business class seat one row back). The staff was very nice, and I was able to join her for dinner and pair my business-class food with first-class wine after takeoff. We then said good night to each other and I returned to my seat to sleep.
We basically lost Monday to the date line and arrived in HK around 8pm. We got to the Intercontinental Hotel in Kowloon around 9am and I was too exhausted to do much of anything. We had a drink in the lounge and watched the building lights before calling it a night.
We woke up early for what turned out to be a very good room service breakfast (congee, fried noodles, dumplings) and coffee/tea before going back to the airport. We stopped in the Cathay Pacific first-class lounge for more coffee, then went to our gate and got on board.
We landed at Incheon around 12:30pm and met up with Virginia’s father, who journeyed to the airport to greet us. We all took the train into Seoul and checked into our hotel (the Grand Hilton, our virtual home in Seoul), and then had lunch downstairs. We all then took a rest and reconvened a few hours later for dinner at the kalbi place we love so much. I think Virginia’s father is surprised by how much we like it, but it’s just right – they do one thing and do it very well, with no frills. We took a bottle of red wine we bought in the hotel to enjoy with the food, and then went back to the hotel to sleep.
We were up extremely early (as we always are in Asia), exercised, and had breakfast before meeting Virginia’s father around 9am. Our mission for the day was to get him a new phone to replace the one he’d had for ten years. The apps had stopped working due to the phone’s age and we wanted to make sure he could use the phone and get help if needed.
Fortunately, there is a Samsung store in Hongdae, a bus ride away from his home. We spent a few hours at the Samsung store selecting a phone and getting him set up. It was all good news: he saves about 30% per month from his old plan, gets a new phone, and can use Instagram again for pictures of his granddaughter. WIN!
We took the bus back to his home and then walked to a nearby Japanese restaurant for lunch. The three of us sat at the bar while the chef presented us with a wonderful variety of sushi, one piece at a time. Virginia and her father had some sake to go with the meal (thankfully, no charred shark fins this time), while I mostly stuck with water.
Mission accomplished, we went back to the hotel to rest for a while. We all had dinner at Min’s Kitchen, a modern Korean restaurant we’d visited on our first trip to Seoul. It was as good as the first time and we went to bed very full.
Up early, exercise, breakfast. We then took the train to old Incheon, where Virginia’s father grew up. We saw the building he lived in as a child, which has been converted into a commercial space and extended. After that, Virginia’s father suggested we get jjajangmyeon, a Chinese noodle dish made popular in Incheon’s Chinatown, for lunch. It’s quick, cheap, and very, very filling.
After lunch, we walked to the top of the nearby hill for coffee and to see the statue of Douglas MacArthur in the park at the top of the hill. During the walk down, we stopped to pick up a birthday present for our niece, then took the train back to Seoul. We had an early dinner at a more traditional Korean restaurant than the previous night, then headed back to the hotel to pack and get some sleep.