“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ~ Jack Kerouac
8.27.12 - 8.27.12
Forget water boarding or thumb-screws if you really want to torture someone stick them in an airplane and fly them around the world and never let them stand up or lay down. You’d get anything you needed.
Seriously, I don’t think my butt will ever forgive me. The inability to get up and move around whenever you need to was the worst thing about sitting in the window seat. I enjoyed looking out the window and I got some pretty neat pictures but I will request an aisle seat from now on. Unfortunately that won’t get rid of the problem with leaning back. Reclining is a luxury I cannot afford on a plane. I can’t even afford to look at the prices of business and first class tickets... let along purchase one... le sigh. So I will forever be cramped in a tiny chair that reclines maybe two degrees and whine about it to you. I think that’s a fair trade.
I was pleasantly surprised about most of my trip though. Despite the seat the whole process was fairly painless. Check in took only a few minutes and security at LAX was a breeze. Boarding wasn’t drawn out and difficult and the bathrooms were actually a good size. The food was, well it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t quite taste like what they said it was. I was served three meals throughout my fight. The first I chose the chicken curry and it was ok but by no means was it a delightfully tasty curry. I think there was curry seasoning but the jury is still out on that one. The second meal I got some sort of chicken with a tomato sauce (like it was trying to be chicken parmesan but without the cheese). And then finally the last meal was a beef dish and it was actually pretty tasty. It also had some miso tofu that was delicious. And there was a great selection of entertainment on the plane. Each chair had its own TV screen and you could choose videos, music, games, news, skymap or shopping. I watched movies through most of the flight (which if you read my previous entry you know which ones) but I also played some games and watched the skymap for a bit. They actually had some fun games (Pacman, Solitaire, Tetris etc) but the controller was weird and it had a delay which made the games not so fun. I also attempted to read the news but the stories would never load... I think the universe was trying to tell me something so I went back to my movies. The skymap was actually really cool. It tracked the plane during flight and you could look at different world maps for different things. You could also view cameras from the front and bottom of the plane to see what we were coming up on and passing over. As you would expect most of it was ocean (gasp! You don’t say!) but when we were flying over Japan it was interesting.
Once I arrived in Korea I was ridiculously tired and disgustingly gross. It was usually a nice temperature on the plane but no one stays nice on a 14-hour plane trip. You get soggy and wrinkly and it is just bad. I went through immigration, grabbed my bags, made it through customs, exchanged some money, left the arrival gate and I considered myself officially in Korea. TADA! Round of applause please! Thank you thank you. I could officially cross it off my bucket list. I looked around and say a few people holding signs but not one of them was for me. I was a little worried. The school knew I was coming. I talked to the recruiting agency and told them when my flight was and when I’d be arriving. The plane was a little early so I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Finally the people were dwindling and no one was really waiting anymore so I thought maybe the driver was at another terminal. Why he would be at another terminal I don’t know but at this point I figured that had to be the only option. So I grabbed my cart and I started towards all the other gates. I passed through all the other arrival gates and passed many a signs but no sign with my name on it. So I walked back. I get to back to my original gate thinking maybe he is there now. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Not a single person was left at my gate except the two guys that worked there. Crap. By now I haven’t slept (the two cat naps don’t count) in 21 hours and I only slept 3 hours the night before my flight. I am in a foreign country and no idea where I am supposed to go. I don’t have a cell phone and the only number I have is for my recruiting agency anyways. I seriously doubted they would still be in the office at 830 at night but it was all I had so I tried calling it. I don’t understand Korean phones. I put my money in, started dialing the number, and before I could finish the phone was already ringing, and then it was telling me the phone number was invalid. Well no duh! I never would have guessed the five numbers I entered before you decided to start calling weren’t going to work. Genius. I meandered my way over to an English speaking information desk and the lady called the number for me. No answer. Double surprise... sigh But at this point I was freaking. It was almost nine o’clock at night, I’m in Korea with no idea if my school knows, I have an address to an apartment but I have no keys. Let’s just say I was not in a good mood. So I walked up and down the arrival gates one last time hoping to find anyone with a stupid sign with my name on it and praying I wasn’t looking in vain.
I was just about to get to my gate a third time when I look over and see the woman at the information desk talking to a man. She looks at me and points. Weird. But why would she be pointing at me? Hope! The man looks over and holds up a sign. Yes there are angels because it had my name on it! I start pushing my way over and the driver nods at me. By this time I realize he doesn’t speak English but that’s ok, he seems to know what he is doing. He motions for me to go. So I start walking, slowly, because I have absolutely no idea where he wants me to go. He keeps motioning me forward. And again I have no idea where he wants me to go. Finally he gets it and he takes my cart and starts walking. Then he starts running. Ok he’s a little eager to get back to his car so I take a few running steps. Worst mistake of my life. Those fourteen cramped hours raged back with a vengeance. It felt like hundreds of tiny electric prods were being forced into my calves by tiny little pigmies. It was all I could do not to fall over. I start limping my way to his car (which, by the way, he left just parked in the middle of the road) and I am trying not to make these cramps worse. I have had many charley horse cramps before and I know you need to flex the muscle to make them go away. Have you ever tried to walk and flex at the same time? Go ahead. I dare you. It is not easy and you’ll look like an idiot. The driver then starts loading all my bags, opens the door, gets in his seat and then starts calling people. I have no idea who he called throughout the trip but he was rarely without his phone talking to someone.
At one point I know he was talking to Hands Korea because he handed the phone to me and I chatted with one of the people who works there for a bit. He welcomed me to Korea and told me what was going to happen that night and then informed me that there was a typhoon warning. He then attempted to reassure me but let me tell you, my sleep deprived, over-heated, and emotionally wrecked mind was not having it. Reassured I was not. And then there was my driver again. Making the strangest u-turns, honking and passing cars, stopping in the middle of the road to fill out paperwork, inching his way through red lights... all I could think about was how professional drivers in the states would be fired if they drove how this guy was. Welcome to Korea Charlene. But I get to my apartment (I tried to stay awake during the drive to see everything but I could not defy nature and I slept through the drive) and meet my co-teacher and she showed me around my new home (and thankfully told me how to work everything because I don’t read Korean) and then we walked around Ilsan for a little bit. She showed me where a market was, where the infamous Ilsan mall was, where I could find a PC room until I had internet access of my own, and she then walked me back to my apartment, made sure I knew how to work the lock and I was then left to my own devices. Order of business. Shower. Make bed. Sleep. And I accomplished it in record speed. I fell into my new bed and marveled at how very hard the bed was and then my body decided it was time to wake up in the States therefore I needed to get up too. Epic. Fail. That would have been swell if I weren’t 16 hours in the future. Stupid jet lag.
I finally convinced my body to go back to sleep and it was glorious. In conclusion: time travel sounds awesome in theory but in reality it sucks. I am still having serious issues with the jet lag but I had a good first full day in Korea despite it. And more on that note later! Until the next time.