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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Seoul2012 – Arrival

I was totally lost at Incheon airport, but I got my phone OK and got T-money card. I called my airbnb landlord and he told me he’s meet me at a particular stop on the airport bus route. On the bus, he called and switched it to one a little further down. I’m not sure why (I think he thought it was on the different side of the street). I know I looked like a total tourist gaping at everything around me.

When I met him, he was very nice, but I remember thinking this is a lot further to go then I thought. But it wasn’t bad. We took my stuff up to the apartment. He had meant to stock the minifridge for me but had forgotten (loaf of bread and some eggs were all it had) so we walked down to the convenience store to get essentials – e.g., Pepsi. (I think he was surprised that that was all I needed) After he left, I unpacked and tried to stay busy and not sleep until bedtime.

I was so tired tho.  This was Wednesday night and I left Tuesday morning; I hadn’t slept much on Sunday or Monday night from excitement and hadn’t slept at all on the plane. When I washed up, I pushed the sink stopper all the way down and it wouldn’t come up again.   Because I was so tired, it was very important to me that I free that stopper.  Between dwelling on that (how will I ever be able to shower with a stuck stopper) and the bright lights and the jetlag, I don’t think I slept until around 7.

My blog entry was basically “I’m here, I’m tired, I picked up a Japanese map by mistake, I’m tired, that darn sink stopper is bugging me, I’m tired,  it’s too bright. I’m tired” So I won’t post it here.

I also won’t post the video tour of my apartment that I took. But here’s a photo I took the next morning so I would remember it (I also took photos of street signs).  If you look closely you can see the blankets in the window that I used to block out those horrible street lights.

Outside of my Apartment

Outside of my Apartment

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Seoul 2012 – Before I left

I wrote this on August 14th.

Wow. really Wow

This time next week, I will be over the Ocean.

It is finally starting to hit me. I’m doing this. I’m really going more then half way (or nearly half depending on how you look at it) around the world. Yeah, it is only for a few weeks, but it is still a Wow feeling.
and not just a “wow – I’m superexcited” (which I am), but a “Wow – this is big. big big”
I don’t like big cities, never left the country (unless you count seeing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls once), and can barely speak Korean (face it, I can hardly speak English). I’ve never gone on a long distance flight – most of my time flying has been sitting at the gate.
Think about it, my first time on a subway will be in Seoul.  My first time seeing a subway will be in Seoul. I used to take the bus, but Nowhere, Virginia’s bus route isn’t exactly complicated – 1 transfer point.
The closest I’ve been to traveling alone around a city was the evening after a conference ended in Clearwater Beach; I took the Trolley to the tourist district (and almost left my souvenirs on the trolley). I had a blast tho for those few hours.
I was in Charlotte for 3 months and hated almost every second of it. And I wasn’t even downtown. I’m going to a city that leaves Charlotte in the dust.  However, this is completely different because I don’t have to drive anywhere – the driving is what stressed me most about Charlotte. (and other stuff I won’t go into)
The furthest west I’ve been is Detroit, and I will be flying over the entire US. Apparently, 777s (or international flights) fly much higher then normal planes, so I won’t get to see anything 😦
My first time seeing the Pacific Ocean will be from 30,000 feet, so I’m not sure if I will actually see it.
10, 5 or even 1 year ago, I would never have considered this.  In fact, Asia wasn’t on my list of go-to places. I thought England/Ireland one day, but not alone.  I plan to go to Sao Paulo to visit a friend (and I will), but I wouldn’t be alone in it. I even thought Australia would be cool – until I realized that everything in Australia is trying to kill you.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared to go alone to Seoul, I’m excited, but it is Big.
So while I’m very very very eager, there is a teeny bit of anxiousness slipping in.
BTW, re: going alone, I’m really OK with it, because if I waited to go with someone, I would never go. I just accept that it is big.

Seoul 2012 – flight to Korea

I left on Tuesday August 21st. My parents insisted on driving me to the airport, so I took the train to their house on Monday.  I was so worried about missing my flight that we got to DC with over an hour to spare before I could even check in. So we went to McDonalds so I could have some “American” food. 😀 Unnie kept texting me Google translated Korean.  My Korean was nearly as bad.
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We finally go to the airport, and the line to checkin was quite long because everyone had been waiting.  Mom was taking pictures of me & Dad and a very nice lady offered to take a photo of the three of us.  I think the lady thought I was leaving forever. 😀 Dad was in the wrong parking lot so he left and Mom went with me through checkin.  Dad came back and I was getting ready to go through the door to get on the train to take me to security, when a very nice TSA agent (how often do you say those words) told us that there was another security place downstairs and they could stay with me longer.  I think he saw that Mom was having a hard time.  I was so grateful for that because Mom could see me as I went through security. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through the naked picture machine.

I wrote the following while on the plane. I didn’t have twitter so I wrote down all my thoughts. I haven’t edited this yet so you can really see how my mind works. 😀

On plane – stream of consciousness

We flew up thru Canada so that was cool. I saw lake Ontario now I see clouds. I got my meal early. Low sodium means tasteless no matter what country it is. Salmon (don’t eat fish), overlooked vegetables on pasta – no sauce.
Hard cold roll also mini bowl of salad lettuce 2 pieces of cucumber & a cherry tomato also fruit salad (oranges/pineapple)
At least my tv works (guy next to me apparently doesn’t work) I’m listening to advengers cause I can’t really see because of the sunlight.
Also programmed it for various music incl. my fav singer
Between the fish & the guy’s beer next to me I don’t have much of an appetite. Everyone else got bimimbab apparently it Is really good. But I’m ok – I ate a late breakfast & then had a snack at the airport.
Also every so often I think “I’m doing it. I’m really doing it”
Slight headache but the decongestant helped w/ that 1 leg hurts must be in a weird position. After everyone eats I’m gonna take a walk (have to put shoes back on)
After dinner we had to close the shades – shame but now I could try to watch a movie (didn’t care for advengers)
The guy next to me helped me with filling out my arrival card. We haven’t talked much but he’s been very helpful – I think he sees a confused kid & wants to help, but I’ve got a few years on him 🙂 so I won’t be calling him oppa anytime soon
They turned the lights off / down now. I’m watching a movie Sakshi recommended best exotic marigold hotel. British movies make me sleepy so hopefully I’ll be able to sleep
Unfortunately the guy in front of me opened his window so that will make it difficult to sleep
Hours into the flight and I’m still thinking I’m doing this I’m really doing it
So cool we’re flying above Canada pretty soon we’ll hit the artic Ocean well not hit but fly over it. Don’t know if we will fly over Alaska or not – may pass it. Shades are still down & I can’t see anything but clouds on the camera view so I’m looking at the map of us flying. Tired but can’t sleep
Just realized that my phone needs charging even tho I’ve barely used it. Seat has charger so that is nice.
I wish my leg would stop hurting.
I could dig out my iPad but I like playing with the in flight system better
I haven’t been that cold – I was expecting to freeze but I’m kinda hot now
8 hrs to go & I’m bored. Tired & sinuses/leg are hurting (enough to be annoying – not enough to get aleve out of overhead) – & a touch cranky
I think the decongestant is acting as a stimulant cause I’m tired but can’t sleep course the babies crying have nothing to do w/ that or the fact that it is only 7 15pm.
Breakfast is fruit & a hot bun w/ beef (don’t know the real name) – too salty for me won’t finish it – not bad just not worth risking a migraine
Say one thing about Korean Air they never stop feeding you (already passed around juice & water)
I have a coke (bought at airport) that I’m not drinking because I want to save it for when I need to be awake aka when I arrive
Btw, I hope my family enjoys this ramble thru the mind of Karen ( writing it on notes on my phone)
I played a game called brain-fu i kept winning ?s started getting more difficult then I lost – not fun anymore 🙂
Listening to Simon & garfunkel on the inflight system even tho I have these songs on my phone 2. More fun this way
Almost at Alaska doesn’t look like I’ll see any of it (spec w/ shades down )
I so tired I want to sing along, but I’m resisting. I think I’m tired cause the lights are off I should really just take a nap
I feel sorry for the stewardesses they don’t get to sleep or it appears sit down. Also the men FA dress like pilots & women like stewardesses. Not exactly fair. I like their hair bow tho
Turbulence keeps coming & going not that bad. Hunger games is my 3rd attempted movie (finished the BEMH)
Realized something middle seat is worst seat he keeps having to hand me stuff or a couple times let me by & if I’m hot than normal people must be roasting – glad I’m not wearing long sleeves
Funny turbulence seems like part of the movie – like a 4d movie 😀
Sometime during the movie we passed the international date line – so it is officially tomorrow.We are over Land – maybe Russia (not labeled so I’m guessing based on Bering sea) but we still have 5 more hrs to go. I wish I could watch Korean tv.
Btw they really do pass out hot towels 🙂
I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking – I’m really doing this 😉 lights are coming Back on – really bright outside i think I’ll wait to open the shutter for a few minutes
They are trying to wake us up just when I’m finally ready to sleep (10:30 our time). I think I’ll end up being up for 24hrs plus by the time I can get to sleep w/o risking really bad jet lag
Another meal not sure which one really not hungry – will wait to eat it. Not fish so that is a plus. Grilled chicken on potatoes fruit & salad and cold hard roll
More food on this flight then I eat in 2?days but technically this flight spans 2 days
Sakshi scared me about how cold she gets on planes she needs to fly Korean air 🙂 im roasting
Gotta stop typing so I don’t get sick from turbulence
Tip – If you don’t have to have low salt don’t get it. Others get carrot cake & steak 🙂 I knew I was gonna get bland food (i did ask for it) so I’m not complaining except I wish I could get more water – teeny cups. Btw I want caffeine so badly but I’m resisting. It is apparently noon so that was lunch 🙂
There shouldn’t be perfume samples in airline magazines
Just remembered what I forgot to do – travel insurance the leg pain reminded me
Starting to wonder if I picked up my bag of toiletries after i went security – I hope so. I don’t want to find a new toothpaste
Decomgestant is wearing off – oww. Gotta decide whether or not to take a pill cause it is a stimulant. Did
It is starting to kick in – hopefully it wears off in about 8 hrs
Return trip I’m not playing with the system until they make us close the shutters – cant see anyway and I missed out on the only glimmer of the US
Listening to my music makes me realize what eclectic taste I have – gold city & kpop right next to each other followed by buble
Flying over china now in a lil while will be flying over NK
A hypochondriac without google Is A sad thing. Leg = deep vein thrombosis cause I watched too much house 🙂 instead of a sore leg
Just realized only 2 Korean islands are on their route map – JeJu & dokdo – just to make it clear it is Korean
My lil screen is frozen – where is Ctrl-alt-delete when you need it?

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Scary isn’t it?

Seoul 2012 – intro

In August 2012, I went to Seoul. This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip, but I fell in love with Korea so I want to return. Badly.
While I was gone, I kept a private blog for family and friends so they could stalk me from 1/2 a globe away. I’m going to put those entries & some of my photos here.
Two reasons:
others may find my experiences useful or interesting
I really want to go back & I’m hoping this will help alleviate my Korea home sickness.