Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chuncheon to Incheon International Airport to Toronto, Canada: 10 hours with 4 demonic children, a cute romantic couple, and an ajumma with elbows

This past Monday I woke up after about four hours of sleep and got ready to take a taxi to Chuncheon's bus terminal . . .

After saying my goodbye's to Julianne (she can't come with me because public school contracts don't give the same vacation time as university jobs do, sigh) I headed to the bus terminal . . .

I ran into another friendly foreign teacher . . . we chatted briefly and I found out she was heading to Europe for two weeks--nice!

Along the way I snapped a few shots . . . it was extremely humid and pretty much the whole country is one big outdoor sauna with varying degrees of heat.

There's been so much rain lately that every dam has water pouring through it . . .

The Korean mountainscape looked really nice with a blanket of fog and mist . . .

The bus I was on stopped about six times I think at different small bus stations on the way to the airport. To occupy myself I snapped more pics . . .

Every time I see this hotel on the way to Seoul it cracks me up . . .

One way to stay awake while riding a bus in Korea is to watch how fast the bus approaches toll booths . . . holy crap!

I wanted to take pics of the rice paddies and how green and lush they look but the speed of the bus, low lighting, and angles didn't really help . . . this is the best I could get.

The bus stops at Gimpo International Airport before heading on to Incheon International Airport. Here is the control tower at Gimpo.

Crossing the mudflats near the airport . . . cool.

The bus left at 8:30am and we made pretty good time. I think we arrived at Incheon International Airport at something like 11:20am.

Arriving at Incheon International Airport I kind of expected to see nurses and doctors wearing bio-hazmat suits and thermometering every foreign person in sight--this was not the case, lol.

This part of the airport was extremely busy--but luckily it was not where I needed to get my e-ticket printed and check my luggage.

I had to walk for almost 7 minutes to get to my check-in area . . . luckily when I arrived there were hardly any people.

I was kind of surprised to see that none of the airport staff were wearing masks and/or gloves while interacting with travelers . . . again, I thought that the airport would have been a HUB of hygiene--ha!

After checking my bags and going through security and customs I wandered around for a bit . . . and saw this . . .

I then realized that I had to go to another concourse and began making my way there. I then figured out that I needed to take a train to get there.

On the shuttle train I realized the view window looked a bit like a Star Trek space shuttle . . .

The new concourse looked pretty snazzy . . .

Once I found my gate I then looked around for a place to have one last Korean meal before I was back in Canada and had access to all things non-Korean . . . oh baby!

I chose this really quaint little place . . .

I ordered the bulgogi . . . it was really good.

Close-up yummy!

After eating I headed over to the gate where I'd get on the plane. This was the plane I'd be on for 10 hours before doing a 2 hour layover in San Francisco and then continuing on to Toronto.

While I was waiting in the airport I couldn't help noticing anyone and everyone who had a sniffle, sneezed, coughed, or in any way looked sick . . . at one point this man sat down behind me and began hacking and wheezing--needless to say I got up and moved.

While waiting I would hear the airport PA system come on and give a warning about Swine Flu and hand washing and reporting yourself if you felt any symptoms . . . funny.

I expected to see more people wearing masks but really only saw less than 1% of the people and children wearing them . . .

Finally, the trip begins!

Unfortunately I was unable to choose to sit on one of the sides of the airplane and in an aisle seat . . . instead I was in the center section . . . of hell!

Behind me was a kid who looked like he was about 5 years old--who enjoyed kicking the back of my seat and slapping at the top of it too. In front of me were two young boys, and in front of them another kid of the same age--let's call them the unholy trinity of staring boys . . . they enjoyed jumping around and climbing on the seats all the while with the seat belt sign turned on and at times with turbulence making the plane shake a bit--I must admit to having some interesting fantasies about wondering how far they'd fly if the turbulence got worse . . . not that I wished them any actual harm, of course.

To my left was an African-American GI with his Korean girlfriend--the only reason I mention the ethnic identity is that the boys were absolutely fascinated with staring at them throughout the whole flight . . . for me they were a very cute and romantic couple. The girlfriend let the guy (who was about 2 feet taller and several kilograms larger than her) sleep on her lap while she'd rub his neck and head . . . and of course all this did was serve to make me miss Julianne and wish she was there with me . . . argh!

And then there was the ajumma with elbows sitting right beside me on my right. She never actually HIT me, but the constant brushing and sliding of her elbow against my arm made sleeping difficult, and I almost asked her to stop but gave up on the idea as personal space is something I lack the Korean language skills to try and explain. All this being said, later when I needed to borrow a pen from her to fill out my immigration landing card she was quite nice and loaned me a pen.

And here is one of the little fiends . . .

Overall I can't really complain about the 10 hour flight from Korean to San Francisco because the flight time for the whole trip is the smallest I've ever had. The last 2 times I've gone home my flight time ended up being in the 24-29 hour total with 2 layovers . . .

I only had one layover in San Francisco which was really nice. I didn't snap any shots inside the airport, though, and just took one of the next plane I would take . . .

While going through American customs and security I found it odd that nobody was wearing gloves or masks . . . and when I noticed people getting digital scans of their finger prints and how the scanners weren't being cleaned between scans . . . nice vector for infection, eh?

Finally, I arrived in Toronto at about 6:30pm Monday night. My parents picked me up and we began the 2 hour drive back to London . . .

I'm always struck by how YOUNG the customs and immigration officers are in Toronto Pearson International Airport. They all seem to be in the 24 to early 30s age-range whereas in America they all look 30 plus . . . I'd have to say our Canadian immigration officers are also a lot better looking, lol. (Oh yeah, the Canadian customs and immigration officers were wearing blue latex gloves . . . one of the few obvious signs of hygiene that I saw during my trip.)

We saw this really nice mosque on the way home . . .

I kept commenting on how FLAT everything was in comparison to Korea . . . lol. In the shot below, if it was in Korea, there would be some kind of large stony hill silhouette or mountainscape-skyline . . . instead it was relatively flat and that kept surprising me a little.

It really is a sharp contrast for any expat who has lived in Korea for a long period of time to see the flatness . . . yes, I'm still not done talking about it, lol.

The sunset was also really nice . . .

By the time I got home I was really really tired . . .

Alright . . . that's the trip home . . . more to come later.

J

1 comment:

A.T. said...

not sure if you know the story about that temple in Brampton, but it was built by hand by the members of the community and there's no metal at all in the construction. The entire building is made with interlocking pieces and wooden scaffolding. It was so amazing watching them build it and seeing it get more and more ornate every time I drove by.