Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Korea, Day 1

It's been a very long day. Whew.

Landed at Incheon International Airport (one of the best airports I've ever been to) at 5:20 a.m. local time.

Then came the ordeal of figuring out which limousine bus I had to take to get to Ilsan, which is where my workplace and residence are. I talked to a sleepy lady at the bus ticket counter and paid a mere 8,000 won for a ticket.

The bus came promptly on time at 6:25 and we were off to Ilsan through a hazy, cloudy sunrise.

I got off the bus a couple stops late, but it ended up not being that big of a deal- it was maybe a block and a half farther than necessary.

The problem with the whole transportation thing today was the fact that I have two large-ish suitcases and one small one. The large suitcases both weighed more than 50 pounds (but less than 32 kilograms- I don't know how many pounds that is), I had my carry-on suitcase, plus a purse. That's a lot of baggage when you're standing at a bus stop in the middle of the street in Korea.

There was a taxi stand about half a block up from me, so with purse and carry-on in stow, I ran over, crossing four lanes of traffic (that was just one way). I asked the two old dudes if they could take me to the building next to the Lotte Department Store, but when they heard that I had more luggage, they refused. So instead, I asked them to watch my carry-on while I went to go retrieve my other bags, which I had left stranded near the bus stop.

Back across the street I went, returning with my two heavy suitcases. One of the men took pity on me when I said I was from America and I had lots of stuff because I moved here for a job, so he took me (and my endless luggage) down a few blocks (I didn't realize how close it was!) and dropped me off in front of the office of my residence.

The weather that early in the morning was surprisingly warm (probably around 70 degrees (Fahrenheit)) and very humid. Not fun, but not as hot as I had expected. The guy that gave me my key (a card, not a real key) and showed me to my room told me to expect rain starting tomorrow, which I'm not looking forward to.

I unpacked, showered, called my parents, sent some e-mails, unpacked some more, and then set off to go explore the neighborhood.

Lotte Department Store wasn't that fun (they're having a big sale right now), but Western Dom and LaFesta were fun to explore a bit. I think I may have gotten a bit of a tan from walking around- I probably shouldn't have gone outside until the sun was a little lower in the sky, but I stupidly set off around 11:00 and got back home around 3:00.

I covered a pretty big distance today, but I'm having a weird problem orienting myself- I keep thinking that west is east and vice versa. I have no idea what's wrong with me, but hopefully, I get my bearings soon. I didn't get lost or anything, so not a big deal.

There is a LOT to do in this area, which is frightening- I may not cook the entire time that I'm in Korea, at this rate! (In my defense, I don't have any kitchen-y things at all, so I couldn't cook even if I wanted to.)

I'm a little achy from running around all day in flip-flops, on top of the scant five hours of sleep I got in the plane, but since I'm staying up late (late-ish ... if I make it to 10:00, I'll be proud of myself), I'm hoping the jetlag doesn't kick my butt tomorrow.

I have plans to go into the office tomorrow morning- there's a Canadian-Korean that lives near me and is going to stop by in the morning to take me to the office so I know the way- just to fill out paperwork and figure out some of the technical things that I need to deal with this week while I'm not working. Then my cousin comes tomorrow to help me figure out my cell phone situation and perhaps set up a bank account.

Busy, busy!

I'm having a little bit of something akin to culture shock. But it's not the people around me, it's just me being weird- it's difficult for me to speak solely in Korean and try to think in Korean all the time, because I'm used to being American. I know I'm tired, too, so maybe things will get better once I've gotten some sleep.

The best and worst thing about my place is that the first floor has lots of shops. I've already been to the two different convenience stores (to buy bottles of water, then to buy a Coke). Those shops will definitely become habit. I had dinner from a Japanese place on the first floor (pork cutlet and a shrimp tempura) and was pleasantly surprised at how good their kimchi was. I was not so pleased with the liberal Jackson Pollack-ing of mayonnaise all over the place.

Weirdly, most of the people that I've interacted with today haven't thought that I was Korean. They hesitate to speak to me in Korean, and try other languages. Bizarre.

The best part of the flight over was that I got upgraded to "Prestige," which I think is Korean Air's equivalent of business class. It was fantastic, and I commend all people that work for Korean Air. Especially the women- their uniforms, their make-up, their hair- those girls work for their money. Watched "Sucker Punch" (no reason it should have been that bad) at the beginning of the flight and then "No Strings Attached" at the end of the flight (Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman were an odd combination in a very predictable movie), listened to some music in between, and had a lot of tiny crystal glasses of water.

We'll see what tomorrow has in store. I'm all tuckered out from my activities today and am totally ready to pass out. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......


william,  July 7, 2011 at 5:26 AM  

1) welcome back to your motherland! glad you arrove safe and sound.

2) how did you get upgraded? in all my years of flying, that has never happened.

3) are you staying in a hotel? your entire time here? i must've read that wrong?

4) daegu. yes? no?

jeanny July 7, 2011 at 6:52 AM  

1) Thanks!!

2) Both times I've been upgraded in my life have been because I've known people- first with Delta, because my sister's a gold member (we were flying together so our itineraries were linked) and second because the company bought my plane ticket via a travel agent that I think gets preferential treatment.

3) It's sort of a hotel? It's called a residential hotel, but it's really an officetel. It's ridiculously close to everything, including work.

4) Daegu YES! I'll go one weekend!