I think it was august 27, 2011 when the plane landed at Incheon airport in South Korea. The first time I set foot in that airport and crossed by migration. At that time I didn’t know that I would cross it over several times in my other arrivals … Anyway, I arrived and the nerves were gone, not fear, now there was an emotion, a few wows and, of course, an overwhelming tiredness by poor sleep of all these scales, but I did not want to close my eyes, I wanted to see everything.
My friend David met me at the airport, I had been over a year without seeing him. I met him in Querétaro when he went to study there for a semester. He is a kind of curious guy and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He moved to Korea to teach English and he was the first person to explained me things I should know about the country. If it wasn’t for him, maybe my arrival would have been completely different. Maybe yes I had more nerves, more fear. But no, it was my Mexico in a different country, my tie and I think that was what kept me afloat. Although Korea is very different, that day I still believed that I was a few hours from my home. Just visiting an old friend.
We left the airport and waited for the bus that would take us to Suwon (the city where he lived). While waiting I was watching after the suitcase, David said “you are not in Mexico.” The bus arrived and even though I was sleepy, I was trying to see things while he explained me what I was seeing. “Do you see how there is not much green? Here theres not much land. It is a small country. Almost everything is buildings, not many houses and the country grows above and below”. War. K-pop. Food. This, the other. Yes, David was my Lonely Planet, my google. I did not need to investigate anything before, he told me everything. The country version from their point of view. A version I understand later.
We arrived to Suwon and walked to his place. The space in South Korea are small, his studio was just a rectangle where there was a kitchen, a toilet, shower a bed and a desk. Nothing out of this world but it suit perfectly for a single person. The first thing I did was to take a shower. I needed it. After it, I went to explore. It was late night, but there was still light. Lights, lights and more lights everywhere you looked. It is a country decorated with lights. We went to K-mart, a supermarket. I tried some cold noodles with chopstick -that I gave up of- and scissors. Basic utensils in korean food. Meh, I thought. Since the beginning I knew that the food issue was going to be difficult for me.
After, we walked a little bit and talk about everything. Of Querétaro, of South Korea, his life… we were catching up. After we came across a store that was close and outside (with out locks or anything) there were some big vases. “This are the things where they made Kimchi”. I didn’t care about that fact, I was impressed by not seeing any security around them. “You are not in Mexico” I remembered what David said to me hours before. Yes, One of the many things I miss about South Korea is that security. “It is a matter of respect” he said. “They don’t steal here”.
Yeap, those were my first hours in South Korea…