Super Seoul Sunday

Statue of King Sejong the Great of Joseon

Statue of King Sejong the Great of Joseon

I had the pleasure of spending 24 hours in the beautiful city of Seoul, South Korea during a stop-over on my way to Bali for a business meeting and some R&R. Seoul far exceeded my expectations!

First, let me talk about Korean Airlines.

*sigh*

So, I purchased my ticket to Bali thru Korean Airlines trying to save my company a few dollars. They were a SkyTeam partner so I booked thinking this trip would finally get me to the coveted Diamond Medallion Promised Land. Wrong. Delta decided to change their SkyMiles Program and create 4 “tiers” for their airline partners. Prior to Sept. 1, 2013; Korean Airlines offered not only SkyMiles but 150% MQMs! I was psyched! Then, I started scrolling down thru the changes and guess who is in the dreaded “Tier 4 Barely SkyTeam Partner”? Korean Airlines. It’s like Delta wants to break up with them but doesn’t have the heart to do it so they are on a “break”. I’m so devastated that I can’t even write another Damn You, Delta letter.

I just assumed it was Delta’s fault. Like they felt they were now too good for simple Korean Airlines. Someone told them they were too pretty to be hanging with the nerds. Then, I flew KE for the first time on Friday and was like, “oh…sorry, Delta.” See, I now understand. KE just isn’t in the same league as Delta, KLM and AirFrance. Where was my amenities bag in Business Class? Why do I have to go to the bathroom to get a toothbrush? Why are you offering me headphones from a 1985 Walkman? Where are the noise-cancelling headphones? Where is the dessert trolley? Did you really just offer me a small Haagen-Dazs ice cream cup that I can buy for $2.99 at Kroger? I paid $8,000 for this? I need to see an itemized receipt. No, sirs and ma’ams. That ain’t the business. That ain’t SkyTeam Tier 1. That’s SkyTeam PIP (Performance Improvement Plan).

Um...what?

Um…what?  This is Business Class trappings?

I will give this to Korean Airlines…there was a lot of room seat-wise and their service is top notch and beats Delta hands down every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Moving on to the city of Seoul. I really didn’t know what to expect and figured a day layover would give me just enough time to decide if this is someplace I’d like to come back for a longer visit. This city is awesome! The people were so friendly, the service was excellent every place we went and downtown was so interesting.

View from the Conrad Seoul of the sun rising over the Han River

View from the Conrad Seoul of the sun rising over the Han River

We stayed at the Conrad Seoul (which I will review in my next post). It was a fabulous hotel! The only negative is that you were required to pay for internet. I feel that should be included in all stays because, seriously? This place ain’t cheap. Y’all can afford to make internet “free”. So, Mr. Conrad Hilton…to quote Amistad, “give us free!” With a 13 hour time difference and arriving to the hotel at 7pm, the first night was a wrap. But, we were up by 4am which gave us time to get situated and out for the day. Seoul’s subway system is so clean and easy to navigate! It made getting from the hotel to downtown simple and stress free.

Seoul's subway

Seoul’s subway

Our first stop was Gwanghwamu Gate where the 2013 Seoul Arirang Festival is taking place.  There are several musical performances that we walk past…

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We head over to the Gyeongbokgung Palace which is the first royal palace built in the Joseon dynasty.  “First constructed in 1395, later burned and abandoned for almost three centuries, and then reconstructed in 1867, it was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty.[1] The name means “Palace” [Gung] “Greatly Blessed by Heaven” [Gyeongbok].  In the early 20th century, much of the palace was destroyed by Imperial Japan. Since then, the walled palace complex has been gradually restored back to its original form. As of 2009, roughly 40% of the original number of palace buildings still stand or have been reconstructed.” (source Wikipedia).

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changing of the guard at the palace.

This palace is a series of buildings and walkways.  It reminds me of the palaces I’ve seen in Morocco and Istanbul as it has courtyards and a very open/airy feel.

Final stop was the National Folk Museum of Korea which houses an impressive collection of artifacts and tells the history of the people of Korea.  Very fascinating…and free!

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As we are walking around, I start to notice a theme with the couples. I’m guesstimating that 87% of them wore matching outfits. If their shirts didn’t match, they at least wore matching shoes.

Forget roses and rings...matching outfits show people y'all are MFEO (Made For Each Other).

Forget roses and rings…matching outfits show people y’all are MFEO (Made For Each Other).

Y’all weren’t ready for the collage, were you? This right here? This is commitment. Who needs a ring when you have a madras button-down and matching leggings? This also makes it easier to figure out where you stand in a relationship. If Kim Jong hasn’t gifted you with a “Jungle” t-shirt & a pair of bright yellow Nike’s that match what he is wearing? Y’all don’t go together. He is not your boo thang. Please understand this. Know the couple code. If you were trying to figure it out, then here you go. You’re welcome.

All in all, Seoul was such a great time & the food is PHENOMENAL! I can’t wait to come back and spend a good amount of time exploring monuments & temples and participating in a tea ceremony.

Have you been to Seoul? If so, what things do you suggest a first time visitor do?

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Damn You, Delta

Why, Delta, WHY??? I sometimes feel like we have an abusive relationship. When you delay flights which cause missed connections, I tell folks that you don’t mean to and you have a lot going on…you’re just stressed out. Don’t they understand your under a lot of pressure? Then, you give me extra SkyMiles to say you’re sorry and I just can’t quit you. I am the Tina to your Ike.

Until now. Why would you rebook me on an Air Canada flight? They are in the dreaded Star Alliance!!!! They aren’t a band of do-gooders like the Rebel Alliance. Do you know who is in the Star Alliance? The DARTH VADER OF AIRLINES!!!! Freaking US Air! Y’all know how I feel about those jokers. Air Canada gets the side-eye just for being air buddies with them. You running with the wrong crowd, AC!

But, I decide to give Senator Palpatine’s airline alliance another chance because clearly I have the common sense of Jar Jar Binks. This was the only option to get me home tonight. Sigh. So, I do it. It can’t be easy though. See, the SkyTeam “bloods” don’t want the Star Alliance “crips” sharing the same terminal so I had to be escorted back thru security and badged out so I can exit the airport and take a bus to the Death Star (aka Terminal 1).

I’m spoiled. Delta did that to me. I have status. I’m Delta’s boo which means I’m priority…more specifically, Sky Priority. Do you think Air Canada thinks I’m special? Nope. I was promptly told to get to the back of the line like my name was Rosa Parks. No fast lane. I had to wait in line with all the other underprivileged travelers hoping that Sally Struthers would host a telethon helping the agents to speed this line along.

After 14 days (well, 30 minutes), I check-in only to be told that I had to check my carry-on bag and pay $25. Wait. What? Pay? What fresh hell is this? I’m Platinum on Delta! That agent looked at me like, “Where’s Delta now? Pay it or walk to your destination.” Good God. So I pay the fee and ask for a receipt because my boo is paying for this…I don’t care if you have to ask for a loan from Jabba the Hut…I best get my money back.

You’d think that would be the worst of it. You’d be wrong. I then had to go thru customs. I’m Global Entry which means I only need to go to the kiosk for fingerprinting and picture validation. However, since I had just done that an hour earlier, the kiosk was basically like, “Nope! Sorry sucka!” So I had to fill out a form. I promptly told the agent I wasn’t standing in line because it’s not my fault that the kiosk gave me the middle finger. I guess he could see I was on the edge of sanity so he told me to get in the crew line. I did…and this is my conversation with the customs officer after explaining the kiosk fiasco:

Customs: I see your hair is longer than your passport picture from 2006. Are you growing it out?
Me: Yes…but this is also hair I bought.
Customs: Are you wearing a weave? I can’t even tell!
Me: Thanks
Customs: How do you wash it? Do you use soap & water?
Me: *slow blink* Yes, yes I do. It’s hair.
Customs: Sorry, I’m just mesmerized. So, where are you from? Your accent is so exotic.
Me: *WTF??* Indiana.

Not a soul to be seen.

Not a soul to be seen.

I’m sorry, I thought I was going thru customs, not speed dating. I can’t even concentrate because I’m still mad about the $25!! Once I get thru customs and security, I have to walk the Green Mile thru the backwoods of the Toronto airport to my gate. Why is this gate so far away? How come I don’t see any other people?

Then I see…prop planes?? Seriously?? Jesus take the wheel. iCant with you.

Delta…I quit you. We don’t go together anymore. Don’t call me and tell me how special I am because I don’t believe you! Keep your SkyMiles and pretty trinkets. You have maxed out my emotional debit card & owe me $253.43 + $25 bag fee. Don’t try to pay me in those “free drink” coupons either. Cashier’s check is fine. Next time you see me, I’ll be wearing this shirt.

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