After nearly 3 months of research, discussions, decisions, interviews, paper work and preparation I have finally boarded that plane that has landed me on the other side of the world. I feel upside down over here, it is quite simply...amazing. I knew I would be in for a treat but what I didn't know was exactly how sweet of a treat it would be. And boy o boy it is ever so sweeeeet. First things first, I barely slept the night before I left. I stayed up chatting with the greatest woman in the world, my mom, about how exactly it was that I would get around in Korea since I won't have my own place for nearly a month, I would not have someone to pick me up at the airport and ummm I cannot speak Korean. I did what I could to ease the mind of an understandable worrisome mother, but hell.
..I didn't even know what I was really going to do.
I have had great fortune thus far. The plane ride over here was fairly intense because it was a 15 hour non-stop flight, but I sat next to EJ, a white American soldier who was traveling over to visit his girlfriend for a few weeks. He had lived here for a year before and was able to fill me in on some of the things I was to expect. After about 6 hours or so and maybe a dozen free beers (yeah that's right...free), I popped those sleeping pills and woke up at the Incheon Airport in South Korea. I made it!
Ok, so the airport...there were so many nice and helpful people at the airport who were willing to give me a ride to Seoul. Damn cab drivers. So I loaded my bags on the bus and did the best I could to make sure the bus driver knew I was a foreigner, we made eye contact.
same plane different picture
He said something to me which I imagine was where are you going cause you seem confused. I pointed to the sheet of paper I had printed out with instructions from my AWESOME couchsurfing host. It had the bus # and what station to get off at. When we got to the station we hurried me and my bags off the bus and drove off. So there I was, standing in the middle of downtown Seoul, by myself with nothing but a sheet of paper telling me how to get to where I had just arrived to, oh and a backpack, a bookbag, and two large suitcases. I didn't exactly begin sightseeing right away. Nor did I introduce myself to all of the people staring at me with the "what the hell is this guy's deal" face. So after about 15 or 20 minutes, I started to get a little nervous.
..Where is Dee, Am I at the wrong bus stop, what if she decided not to host me, Did the bus driver play an awful prank, was I getting punked, Am I really in South Korea, I wish I spoke Korean, Wow there are a lot of people here, I can't read anything, I am tired, Should I have done this, Maybe I should've waited a few weeks so there would've been someone at the airport with one of those little signs with my name on it, Am I really in South Korea, I'm kinda starting to miss my comfort zone of being able to communicate with strangers...then I heard it...JOHN!!!! Hope I didn't hurt her when I hugged her so hard. My host had arrived. I was safe. I was able to speak again. My craving for my first taste of Soju had arrived...
We came back to her little studio apartment, which was another short bus ride away.
Quite possibly the best couchsurfing host ever
Dropped the bags and she gave me the grand tour of her place..."Here is the fridge. Here is the toilet, Koreans usually put the toilet paper in a waste basket, don't do that. Flush it. Here is the couch. You hungry? Okay, let's go!"
We went through the market, which yes...definitely smells like fish and into one of her favorite, and currently my favorite, restaurants. Took our shoes off at the door and sat on the floor. We sat, we grilled the pork, we drank, we talked...soju kinda taste like a weak ricey vodka and their domestic beer is crap, but oh soooo cheap. We went from there to a bar and from there to another bar, then from there to ...I'm not real sure but my camera says that we stopped at some restaurant and sat down with some Koreans and helped them finish there meal and apparently we made it home safe.
Koreans and their peace signs
...well I did have some mysterious pain in my left cheek (hope I didn't piss off Dee and she just kicked my ass haha, she wouldn't have remember anyways). But I do remember trying to get home. We stopped at a little food stand, which are on every corner and pigged out on some fried goods. As I was chawing down, I saw Dee fall on the street several times and I rushed over to grab her. Funny story, it turns out she was actually just drunk. haha. So after about getting in and out of about 30 cabs we finally made it to her pad.So the next morning I walked with Dee to her school and then went to a coffee shop and got some deliciousness came back the her place and died. Woke back up around 7pm when she got home from work at by 8 we left to go meet a group of couchsurfers to go snowboarding.
When in rome...
We barely made it, because we decided on this a the very last possible second there was no seats reserved for us on the bus. We knew that but took the chance. Showed up and wouldn't know it, there was two seats left!!
The bus ride was a quick 90 minutes and when we arrived we rented our suits, established our rendezvous point and walked down a back alley to meet up with Seyung's friend. This seemed rather shady renting the boards and shoes from some guy out of the back of his van, but whatever it was only $40 and it included our llift ticket. I boarded the whole time all over that fake powder. Nothin like cruisin down the mountain with some Allman Brothers rockin the mp3 in South Korea :)!! We shreaded till about 4:30am nonstop untill I hit that patch of ice there at the end.
the sign actually saved my life
That put a stop to my runs down the slopes. The ride back was pretty quiet. Everyone was sleeping except for me since my my body doesn't really know it's in a new time zone, that would probably be because I haven't really slept yet. After a while a Korean guy next to me woke up and was curioius why I wasn't tired. I told him my situation and he became really talkative when he found out I was from the US. Although his Enlglish was not good, we still had an interesting discussion regarding President Obama (man it feels good to say that). Let's try it again...President Obama, yeah it's definitely got a good ring to it. I have not met a single Korean that did not celebrate his victory. Oh that reminds me of the Korean guy pointed out a member of our group, who was black, and he told him he looked like Obama, which he definitely did not. But it is funny to hear them pronounce his name and our Korean friend Seyung explained that most of them think that all black people look like Barack.