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Airplane and Electronics

19 Feb

Plane to Korea

May 2-May 3
I made several dorky errors. First I booked the wrong day for the ride to the airport, so I was forced to cancel then call a taxi. (Damn that International Date Line)

Then I didn’t know how to get a hand cart. Then the golf club which I was asked to bring at the airport had to be packed into a nondescript box. Which got me much later.

Then I was totally lost and confused after that point when I went the wrong way in the airport heading towards the wrong exit. I don’t think I was thinking straight.

I then talked to a halmoni. I talked to her in Korean. I could undertstand her only a little. But I pretended to understand her perfectly. She talked very nice to me. She said things like she used to sew when she was younger. She said many things to me that I could understand, but I didn’t know how to reply.

For a fleeting moment I wondered what my grandparents would have been like if they were alive. Would they be like this halmoni? A fleeting feeling of sadness overtook me. Even if this halmoni felt nothing like any of my grandparents, I still felt like I had missed my own grandparents.

My grandparents died when I was in the United States. I feel sad that I missed them.

Then I fumbled with my cellphone. I wanted to pretend for a while that I was Korean and fluent in English. When I was waiting a friend called me and was talking in Korean, but they all stared when I started to talk in English.
***

I finally got onto the plane and fumbled with my carry on items and then again into the overhead bin. I took out my sketchbook and some Hwatu. (go stop) cards) which finally fit.

However, I seem to have a jinx today with me and electronics. I wonder if this is something that just happens when I travel internationally. ’cause last time I traveled internationally the Italian bus system wouldn’t take any of the tickets I tried to feed it.

The plane flight was like first class in the United States. There were three or four full course meals with tea. Because I spoke English, the Flight attendants assumed that I didn’t speak Korean well and also assumed that I didn’t like hot food.

During most of the transition from the Airport to Ajumma’s house the people assumed I wasn’t Korean. I had to say “Miguk Saram ieyo” at which point they lost interest in me… like I didn’t speak the phrase well. So apparently it’s great for a non-Asian to speak very good Korean, but it’s horrid that you don’t speak Korean if you’re Korean, but not fluent.

I should note that I unwittingly dressed a bit Japanese. I think the black leaf belt kind of gave that impression, though the tired look on my face and the slouching should have give much more away.

***

Customs was easy… I took pictures of it too. I keep forgetting that the US customs people get frustrated and bored so they like picking on people trying to get in, especially Americans. Especially Americans of the non-white variety, I should say–in my life I’ve been picked on twice.

***

So I’m standing in the airport terminal I have all of the bags except the golf club I was told to bring. Ajumma wants them and I see bringing these things as a kind of exchange. I really only needed one suitcase, but then I brought 2 plus a golf club, which somehow is seen as a dangerous item. Haha. (Even my friend in the US laughed hearing that. “Four” the airplane??)

I had to struggle with the hand truck, which is free in Korea to take and then in my rather American manner stumble around trying to find the place where the golf club went. I’m so exhausted and tired I decide to get the cellphone “handphone” first. My posture is becoming more and more American by the second, i.e. slouch and people are staring at me on occasion. Haha. For once I don’t care. I have two heavy suitcases, two heavy carry-on and my organization has just gone to hell from trying to find things and having to shift so much around.

I finally get the cellphone and a person from the airline hands me the golf club. I’m sweating like nuts from the stress of having to shift half of my stuff around, not knowing where my passport is and my Korean not being able to kick in properly because I keep hearing all four languages I’ve studied everywhere, which to my poor little brain is a nightmare. I don’t even think I know English that well.

I start to give up and speak in Korean to English questions. People speak English back to me, I reply in Korean. I feel like a bit of an idiot as I’m dropping the verb and I’m so tired that I can’t even hear people straight.

I finally get onto the bus and then after seeing several trucks that look like the one in Fantasy Couple, crossing the bridge in Fantasy Couple, Building 63 and the KBS building, which is astoundingly a bit closer Incheon than Seoul, I finally realize I’m in Korea. My nerves and heartbeat start beating more rapidly.

I find that some of the cultural things I picked up in drams is true!

1. The trucks in Fantasy Couple *really* do look like that. And there are a lot of them.

2. The driving in Seoul is nuts. It’s practically bumper to bumper. Someone cut off the driver about 3 times. One of the cars got so angry that it cut off the driver and then came to a full stop almost making the driver hit it. It then honked at him and then the driver honked back.

3. The toilets really do have low water in them. It’s like an airplane toilet in the US, very little water in the bowl.

4. There are baths with a complex system in it. However, I haven’t seen anyone take a bath in one…

5. There are doors with codes to them rather than keys.

However, I’d like the bust the myth that there are a lot of black cars. I’m pretty sure that black cars don’t hunt pedestrians down. In general, there is an underground shopping system and walking system under the streets so one doesn’t really have to use the sidewalks. Plus the public transportation is good. I guess dramas are trying to show how nuts the driving is. Plus pedestrians often don’t obey the signs that say “stop and go”

New things they don’t tell you:
1. You will need an adapter for a Korean plug. It has two round prongs to it. It’s not the rectangular prongs they usually talk about.

2. You can walk most of Seoul completely underground. For some reason dramas really don’t want to show this part of Seoul! Personally, I think it’s cool

3. All large streets have an underground tunnel, you can cross underneath.

4. It’s confusing sometimes distinguishing between a subway and an underground tunnel. Look for the green sign with the subway train on it.

5. The circular subway has English, Japanese and Korean on it. There are a lot of Japanese tourists.

6. The fashion right now has shifted. It used to be bright colors now it’s more neutrals, like black and white with little splashes of color. Plus they do wear sneakers. For some reason dramas like dressing up the people in them nicer than the reality and also uses brighter colors! I have yet to spot a girl that wears sneakers though.

Recommendations so far:
Ride the Green line (2) around Seoul. It’ll take about 2 hours to complete the circuit and even though I made a mistake in taking it around, I think it’s worth it. You may even recognize some of the scenery. Plus the trains don’t seem to be that packed beyond rush hour times, but even so it’s much less.

On the subway, they don’t cross their legs. To count, I’ve seen people just look down at their bags, no one looks around, very few people talk on the train except close friends and they will look at you if you look around. (One guy was staring at me… an office worker. I wonder why…) Women hold their bags in front. Very few jackets too. I was kind of surprised at that… in the US people always have a jacket on hand *somewhere* I didn’t see that much, even the halmoni or Ajumma…

Score:
Aissi 0

aigoo 4

Aiyu 4
Ayo 1

Aigo 1

 
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