Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Long Journey Home

This was the longest trip that I've ever taken. It all started at 8:30 am on Wednesday, May 20th (Thailand time) when I woke up, showered and finished packing up our stuff. Ali, Byrun and Leah were already gone to work (we'd said our good byes the night before) and so it was up to Matt and I to get ourselves to the air con bus terminal. Look what Matt found in his shoe before we left!

The big question was how should we get there? We debated a lot about this. You see, Ali and Byrun live a good ten minute walk away from the road (they are in a gated community) and we had a lot of heavy luggage. Matt wanted to walk to the road, find a tuk tuk and get them to come back to the house to pick up our stuff. I thought this would take too much time since sometimes it's awhile before a tuk tuk comes around. My vote was to just carry all our stuff (2 huge traveler's backpacks, a box, a regular backpack, 2 small bags) to the road and go from there.

Somehow I convinced Matt to do things my way. As it turned out, Lady Luck was smiling upon us! We'd only walked about a block when a car pulled over and asked us where we were going. We told them and they offered to give us a ride!! The Thai couple was so lovely and friendly. Concidently they were actually going to the same place to pick their daughter up! I thought they might be bluffing with us so we didn't feel bad for taking them out of their way but then I saw them hugging and kissing a young girl so it was the truth.

From here we got a ticket for the next bus (2pm) to Bangkok. We arrived in Bangkok around 7:30pm and grabbed a taxi to the airport. We arrived there just before 9pm so we had a lot of time to kill. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 1:15 am! We wandered the airport and grabbed something to eat before checking in for our flight. Finally it was time to board and everyone on our flight looked sleepy. I was all prepared to go right to sleep.

This time luck was not on my side. The pilot announced that they were delaying the flight until some passengers could board. I'm not sure why they were late (or why they held the plane) but they were. Okay, fine. To make matters worse, one of the late passengers was seated right across from us and was having a huge temper tantrum. He appeared to be a Korean businessman and since we understand some Korean we were able to glean that he was not impressed at being seated in coach instead of in first class with his two friends. He actually was doing things like throwing his pillow on the floor and stomping on it and jumping up and down. It probably didn't help that he was a little bit drunk. Everyone was annoyed and uncomfortable with the situation. He was being so distruptive and rude!

His next problem was that the flight attendant serving him wasn't Korean, she was Thai. Did it matter that she spoke fluent Korean? Apparently not. At this point I was getting pretty peeved. I must have been giving him the evil eye since he stopped acting like a two year old and looked right at me. So I decided to shut him up. I spoke to him in Korean! Hah! Translated I said "Old man! Do you speak English? We are tired!" He looked so surprised and starting to try and appologize to me and complain about the service. I told him that the service was fine and that it was late and he should go to sleep and let us go to sleep too. What I had really wanted to say was "(in Korean) Old Man, do you speak English? (in English) GOOD! SHUT UP!" (*saying shut up is considered really rude to Koreans though) After that he mostly quieted down but needless to say, we didn't get a lot of sleep.

We landed in Seoul at 8:40am (Seoul time, which is 2 hours ahead of Thailand) and even though I was tired I shook it off because I was so excited! My best girl Min Jung was going to be at the airport to help us kill our massive layover! I was a little nervous since we would have to check out of the security area but that all went really quick and smooth (even the part where they were checking people for fevers and H1N1 flu).

It was so fantastic seeing Min Jung! It almost seemed like a dream. I miss a lot of things about Korea but I miss her friendship and working with her the most. Our first stop was a restaurant to pig out on some Korean dishes. We had gimchi jjigae, bibimbap and spicy bulgogi! We were so full!

The time went by so fast- before we knew it Min Jung had to leave to go to work. Actually, she left later than she planned (and ended up late for work... oops!). I told her she needs to come visit us in Canada really soon. It was so nice having someone at the airport to hang out with us.

After Min Jung left we went through security again. Matt was dead tired and our flight wasn't leaving until 6:30pm. We checked our email on the complimentary internet and then he went to our gate to crash. I decided to explore a little more and ended up chatting to a really nice girl who was working at one of the Korean cultural experience areas for over an hour. She'd lived in Toronto and Vancouver for awhile and her English was really impressive. I think she was just as bored as I was since there were no people at her booth.

The flight from Seoul to Seattle was relatively uneventful. The only thing worth noting is that we were running about 20 minutes late. No big deal, right? Well, I hate, hate, hate traveling through America. Why? Because even if you are just catching a connecting flight and aren't entering the US you still have to go through customs, pick up your baggage and then drop it off and find your next flight. I find this to be ridiculous! We rushed (since we had less than an hour and a half until our last flight left) but still managed to be in a giant line behind about 100 other people. It was crawling at a snail's pace. I looked at our boarding passes and it said that our flight would be boarding at 1:40pm and at this point it was 1:20pm. I started to panic that we would miss our flight so I decided that it was time to get a bit pushy. I flagged down a worker and told her what was going on and asked if we could jump the line. She said it was okay if everyone in front of us agreed to let us skip.

Thankfully everyone agreed and so we went to the front. I went up to the security worker who then said, "Hey, did you skip the line?". My heart skipped a beat but I explained politely the situation and that the other people had allowed us to go ahead. The worker then said, "I don't think you asked everyone or can you speak Korean?". I ecstatically exclaimed, "I CAN SPEAK KOREAN! I worked in Korea!" Hahah! The guy chuckled and said that maybe I should stick around and help him out then. He stamped us through and we ran to find our baggage.

Somehow we managed to get the baggage and an Air Korea employee helped us skip through yet another line and from there we ran like crazy people. It really did feel like we were contestants on the Amazing Race. Seattle airport is a bit annoying and has a lot of trains. Somehow we found the correct ones and made it to our gate! Our flight was supposed to leave at 2:25pm and we got to the gate just after 2pm! Success!

I was so glad we made it to that flight (and our luggage made it on too) because the next flight to Edmonton wasn't leaving until after 8pm. We were so exhausted by this point (I think I slept about 6 hours- not consecutively, during the entire 40+ hour trip) but really glad to be back. Wow, I think that's the longest entry I've ever written!


Carter said...

Is it polite to say "Old man" in Korean? It just sounds so hilarious. Good for you!!!

ambearo said...

It's polite (the word is ajoshi) but I was being a bit cheeky since this guy wasn't old enough to be called ajoshi. I should probably have called him something else. Too bad, he was so irritating!

Matty said...

Oh man. That meal and Min Jeong's excellent company was the only good thing about that trip. I suppose I DID get to see "BOLT" the wonder dog.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were going to start updating about your Canadian life!!!!! Not fair!!!!