The night before you embark your mind races and your stomach turns. You spend the night tossing and turning, thinking of all the possibilities – good and bad. Before the sun rises, you wake up wondering if you had even fallen asleep in the first place. Then, half asleep you clamber all your luggage together and stumble out the door. When you arrive, you are zapped awake by the pure chaotic energy of the place – don’t you just love the airport? Like most I HATED the airport. But once the pandemic hit and the world was turned upside down I actually found myself missing the place.In fact, I missed it so much I actually went on a romantic vacation – to the airport!
The Journey to Romantic Airport Island
More specifically, we went to the island Incheon airport is on, Yongyu-Do (용유도). We began our journey at Hongdae station where my boyfriend came to pick me up in his car. It was the Friday before Lunar New Year. Traffic was bumper to bumper and my boyfriend is too big to have proper visibility in his tiny car. I had very little faith that we would make it out of the city alive.
However, with a couple of close calls and a whole lot of repressed road rage on my part, we made it out of Seoul. As soon as we left the city limits, it was a straight shot to the ocean.
We got off at a rest-stop just before the bridge leading to the island to catch the last moments of sunset. The bridge lit up in hues of pink and purple. They left a stunning glow on the mudflats below. Meanwhile, the last light of day danced along the edges of clouds as the sun sank behind them. It was all very pretty, but it was also freaking cold!
We hurried inside hoping to find something to eat, but because of the holiday all the restaurants were closed. However, they did have a visitor center that explained how they made the massive bridge connecting incheon’s airport island with the mainland, which was fascinating.
After crossing the bridge we stopped at a seafood kalguksu restaurant that proudly proclaimed it was ‘the taste of Korea’. And you know what – maybe it was. That was the best kalguksu I’ve ever eaten! We were given a massive serving packed full of shellfish; shrimp, muscles, clams, small conch shells – I was very happy.
A Temple in the Mountains
The next morning we took off for a small temple in the mountains called baekunsa (백운사). Not going to lie, the road to the place would be a great set for the start of a horror film. It was a sparsely paved road in the middle of the woods winding up a mountain and it was barely wide enough for the car to drive on.
The temple is home to the island’s guardian deity tree (당산나무). In the past nearly every Korean village had one of these trees. Those who practice Korean folk religion recognize them as the spiritual centers of communities.
Out of all the guardian trees I’ve come across, this one felt particularly special. The center was hollow and it looked as if something had torn its way out of it. I can only imagine the tales that this peculiar tee has inspired in its thousand-year history. While most guardian trees are forgotten, this one is still actively part of the community. Near the tree, there was an altar where people had placed buddhist statues and stacked roof tiles. On the tiles, people had written their wishes in white chalk.
After a while we got cold and hungry so got back in the car and descended the mountain. We drove along the coastline in search of the perfect brunch cafe. We stumbled across a wide open cafe with AMAZING baked goods and a gorgeous ocean view.
Once we had finished eating, we took a stroll along the beach. Actually, I couldn’t feel my face within the first few minutes but it was worth it. The ocean had frozen over at the water’s edge and when the waves sloshed in, it created the most enchanting sound. It reminded me of windchimes.
During our walk along the beach, we came across a curious Buddhist temple. Actually, it was kind of a pseudo-Buddhism cult temple but the statues were pretty and we were allowed to take pictures. Clearly, my boyfriend is the chosen one. That picture -it’s not even edited! My photos on the other hand….
Once our collective cold tolerances had been reached we headed towards the main attraction – sky park. Not going to lie, when we first arrived, we were extremely disappointed. The park was completely barren in winter and the statues were frankly, kind of ugly. But then, a plane flew overhead and our impressions of the place changed instantly.
The two of us kept our eyes on the sky waiting anxiously for the planes to descend. The park was only a few meters from the airport so we had only a few seconds to take the perfect pictures. We found a massive mound of dirt that was undoubtedly used as a landing marker for the planes. We climbed on top of the mound and determined that that was the absolute best place for pictures. Mind you, it had recently snowed, and that snow had melted so there was plenty of mud.
There we took turns taking photos and videos of each other as the planes descended. It was sooo much fun! After what seemed like hours, we went back to the car covered in dirt and mud – mostly me because I am a bit of a clumsy mess.
The Romantic Airport
Our final destination on the airport island was the romantic airport itself. Ironically, it seemed to be the safest destination with the spike in cases at the time. We practically had the entire place to ourselves. Both of our phones were running low on battery so we made our way over to the charging station and had a bit of a cuddle. Then, we wandered around checking out the interesting displays and galleries up around the place before grabbing dinner.
Who would have thought that you could have such an amazing, romantic airport vacation! If you are looking for more fun things to do at Incheon airport Click Here to read more.