Monday, 27 September 2010

the sole of Seoul has soul

Going to and from Ulaanbaatar I prefer taking the Seoul route (UB-Seoul-Paris/London-Biarritz). The main South Korean hub of Incheon is a real gem amongst international airports. There are usually some five or six hours to kill between flights but rarely is a moment dull. Upon arrival I head straight for a massage. Not one of those European strokey-strokey efforts, a good old-fashioned Asian pummeling. If it doesn't hurt I want my money back. After 90 minutes of healing torture I'm famished. Reluctantly I have use of the business lounge and therein a fabulous range of savouries, muffins and French wine. By now I am properly chilled out. Time to go exploring.
The airport is huge, not T5 huge, but bigger than most. The terminal is shaped like a huge banana. Both sides of the fruit are adorned by a plethora of upmarket clothing shops, electrical accessories of allsorts, smashing eateries and other retail oriented ventures. As I passed by Prada I heard a group of girls screaming. I guessed it wasn't for me so went to explore. Four young lads stood on a small stage. They broke into some seemingly very popular pop song. It transpires they were the Asian equivalent of Take That, only younger.
In the middle of the banana another avenue leads off so it looks like the banana is on a stand. Down this route is the Korean Cultural Centre. I had seen various interesting processions start from here. First impressions tend towards naff. A second walk past still feels risible but a third begs entry. In the centre you can partake in any number of Korean cultural pursuits: writing ancient scroll, painting historic scenes, making fans etc. It's not (just) for kids and is a great example of a country marketing itself. I wonder what Heathrow would have passengers do at a Great British Cultural Centre...?
Korean of the day:- hello :: ahn-nyeong