Jeannette is abroad again and so the Purple Backpack lives–and I’m in Korea! I’m going to be living and working here for an entire year. I have a contract with EPIK (English Program in Korea) to teach English. Get ready for posts about life in South Korea, traveling, teaching English, and assorted Jeannette snark!
So, chapter one: getting to Korea!
I’d heard from my recruiter that they expected me in Seoul on February 19th, but decided that arriving the evening before was preferable. (I prefer to sleep and bathe before being dragged across the country and meeting hundreds of new people). So I bought a ticket that took me from Portland through San Francisco and eventually to Seoul’s Incheon Airport.
After days of packing and cursing my too-many possessions, I finally managed to fit everything into 1 suitcase and 2 backpacks. Considering that I managed to do Spain with ONE suitcase and backpack I was irrationally annoyed with myself and have decided that I own too much crap. Also, hauling TWO backpacks plus a giant wheely suitcase is not fun.
I flew out of PDX at 7:30, which meant that I got to the airport at 5:30 AM (yes, I am obsessive about making it to the airport on time). THANK YOU FOR DRIVING ME CHRISTINA!!
I survived my initial flight to San Francisco by passing out the second my butt hit the seat–which is really the only way to travel in the sardine cans also known as commuter flights. When I landed in San Francisco, the ever-so-helpful airline monkeys sent me on a treasure hunt to get my next boarding pass. Ok, snark aside it wasn’t that bad. I just had to exit security and loop back through the airport to get my boarding pass (at least I had 3 hours instead of 10 minutes) I also got the wonderful body scan experience when going through San Francisco security (though not Portland. I guess we have fewer terrorists).
Bored, and definitely sore after sleeping on the sardine flight, I decided to do Airport Yoga–which meant finding a secluded corner and making a general ass of myself for the amusement of flight attendants. “But Jeannette,” you might say, “Yoga doesn’t look that stupid” Clearly you haven’t seen me fall face-first when I’m trying to do down-ward dog, or pretty much any pose.
Around 1:30 I boarded my flight to Seoul, with Singapore Airlines. The flight attendants had gorgeous uniforms–patterned dresses–and the flight was ridiculously under-booked! I had an entire row to myself! Woo! 12 hours of lounging and stretching my feet out!
When I landed in Seoul, it was time to clear customs which involved the not complicated at all process of walking of up to the boarder guards and flashing my passport. (well after they sent me back to refil a stupid “Arrival Form” which I learned is very different from the stupid “Customs Declaration”).
When I got out into the terminal, I had a moment of Oh F*** NOW WHAT–because I am Jeannette and therefore an airhead, I’d forgotten the name of my hotel. However ding ding ding–I have a smart phone which means I could still access my reservation info.
While hauling my double backpacks and giant heavy suitcase I spotted another traveler with the telltale signs of a compatriot–an airport cart full of suitcases, Western features, and the bleary eyes of “I don’t even remember my own name–where is my bed?” which happens after traveling for 24-ish hours. So we headed off together to what turned out to be the nicest hotel I’ve ever been inside–think bellboys in suits 🙂
The handlers, i.e. my recruiters, were lurking in the hotel lobby–to make sure we’d arrived in one piece. Their job was almost over, so in celebration they took us out to a Korean BBQ restaurant. Unfortunately I had no desire to take pictures of the grilling hunks of meat or tasty bowls of kimchi, veggies and eggs. But I did devour everything in sight. I then crashed and slept for 9 hours before waking at 7:30 (ewww I hate jet lag!)
To Be Continued with The EPIK Arrival and Orientation.