Welcome back. If you’ve missed the first part of this epic two-part travel blog, you can get the background info here. Once you’re up to speed, head on back here and join me as I prepare to take the new Kia Rio sedan out for a tightly controlled spin around the streets of Seoul, before heading out for some sightseeing. If the promise of a Daihatsu Copen on gold BBSs (above) doesn’t whet your appetite, nothing will.
When you last saw me, I was in an underground car park filled with Kia Rios. Keeping in mind that these are Toyota Yaris rivals, take a good look. Not bad eh? Time was, not too long ago, when owning a Kia marked you out as someone that had no idea about cars at all. Not any more.
With sweets in the glovebox and a sat nav bleating out the sounds of babies crying (no, really), we took to the streets of Seoul.
The convoy headed, somewhat slowly, towards the island of Incheon. Which is where US troops first landed during the Korean War, history fans.
It was bloody cold. But thankfully inside the Rio, all was tropical. Kia’s taken yet another step up in terms of interior quality, and the ride was also supple and forgiving. Shame about the numb, artificial steering though.
After a trip filled only with US Forces radio and overenthusiastic convoy leaders annoying other motorists, we turned off the motorway towards lunch at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Incheon.
The hotel immediately scored points by having a giant TV robot in the lobby.
Korean rice cakes. Squashy. But tasty with it.
Off we went again, back to the mainland…
…via a pretty spectacular bridge.
Time for a quick coffee stop before heading back into Seoul. Or even some Primium Pizza. Yum.
Kia do make some good looking wheels, don’t they?
And thus the convoy snakes back through lousy Korean rush hour traffic to the InterContinental hotel in Seoul. It hadn’t been the most stimulating test drive, thanks to the tight reigns that Kia kept a hold of, but it was enough to know that the company’s made a stylish, comfortable and value-for-money saloon. If they can get a Peter Schreyer equivalent in to spice up the handling in the same way as the design has been overhauled, hats across the automotive world will be chewed upon in amazement.
Test drive over, time for a night out in Seoul. But first, a KitKat. Wait, what?
There’s something familiar yet alien about Korean corner shops. I’d love to know what Tony the Tiger is saying.
Anyway, dinner time. Who’s for roasted large intestines? Yum!
After dinner (no, we didn’t have the intestines), I ventured out with a couple of other journos to the university district of Hongdae. It was very happening, with lots of interesting things to see. Like this hog. And the blinged up Copen at the top of this page.
Very true. Explains why the boss keeps punching me, too.
Pimp My Scooter?
On the day of departure I had a free morning and afternoon. A tour was offered to places I’d been to already, so I decided to head to the War Memorial of Korea museum instead.
The museum is a fascinating journey through Korean military action, going back thousands of years ago, through the Korean War of 1950-53 and up to the present day tensions between North and South Korea. On show in the lobby was the North Korean torpedo that the South says sunk the ROKS Cheonan in 2010 with the loss of 46 lives.
A corridor contains busts of Korean heroes during the North/South War.
But there’s also plenty of info on earlier conflicts, as this young chap discovered.
Among the exhibits are some of the original vehicles involved in the war. From planes…
…to boats. Bonus points if you can identify what they all are; I haven’t a clue.
On a more sombre note, plaques along the exterior corridors contain the names of some of the almost 138,000 South Koreans killed during the 1950-53 war. This is one corridor of several, and the writing is very small.
And so as the sun set on another Seoul day, I hopped aboard the Metro to begin my journey back to the hotel, the airport, Dubai. Farewell Korea. See you soon.