Monday, November 25, 2013

And I quote...

“Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.” 
-Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

From Masan to Melbourne...

I officially left Masan, South Korea on November 1st.  After that I spent 18 days in a goshiwon in Changwon before I finally and officially left Korea.

The weekend before my departure, which was to be on a Monday morning was full of epic parties and goodbyes, including a wedding for one of my favorite co-teachers.  I spent all night Sunday packing up my things, well the last of them anyway.  The problem with a goshiwon is that it is teeny-tiny and every time I made a pile to send home, pack, etc.  I had to move it if I wanted to eat, sleep, sit, or move about the room in anyway.  Eventually, it all came down to an all-nighter Sunday night, after not recovering well from my final hurrah Saturday night.

One of my going away meals... thank you Ja

So, I stocked up on Red Bull and assorted canned coffee beverages and got to work.  By 11 pm my eyes were burning with fatigue, and I still had a ways to go.  I taped up the last of my boxes, laid out my travel backpack, and started again on the piles.  I laid out what I wanted to go on the trip with me, and then halved it.  (It is ROUGH trying to decide what to pack on what will be a multi-month adventure, in various climates.)  I began cramming things into the backpack, I again purged some unnecessary things.  I made a pile for the trash (my hope HAD been to donate a good portion of it to charity, but that prospect grew lower as the moon rose higher.)

I believe I finally finished about 6 am.  I'm still not sure how I had managed so much stuff in my tiny dorm of a room, but alas I did.  Come 7:45 my ride to the airport, a friend of an engineer friend, was to arrive.  When he showed up, I was tossing my pile of miscellaneous storage boxes, clothes, books, and anything else not neatly packed into my last box to ship home, into the garbage pile outside of the goshiwon.  He was appalled at the things I was tossing, and tried to encourage me to reconsider.  After a brief, and confusing discussion, he wound up with much of that pile, as well as instructions to deliver a packed suitcase (which the post office wouldn't let me ship back to the US) to deliver to my friend to hold for me until my travels were done, including such things as my laptop and misc documents.  (I wasn't sure where I would wind up.)  And she in turn, had instructions to deliver my blanket to my replacement, who had generously loaned me one of my old comforters to keep me warm in the chilly goshiwon, which didn't come with any sort of sheets or blankets.

Finally, after loading the car and reiterating the instructions, we stopped by the post office to ship the last of my boxes.  I had allotted 10 minutes for this.  Of course, the post office opened late, causing me to stand panicked at their door, with a large box at my feet, figuring that this would be the end of me.  Eventually, the post office opened and the box was ready to ship.  Having exchanged all my Korean money, I handed the man my credit card.  The machine was down.

So, here I was already running 10 minutes behind "schedule" with a labeled box at my feet, ready to ship and no way to pay... so I ran, to the nearest ATM.  I ran as fast as my feet would carry me, down the street, around the corner, through the bus stop, and into the nearest kiosk.  I yanked out 200,000 won, not wanting to have any other money woes.  Then I ran back, back through the bus stop, back up the street, around the corner, and entered the post office panting.

After throwing my cash at the man, my ride and I were on our way to the airport, it was going to be tight.  I hadn't checked into my flight as I had shut down and packed my computer the night before without even thinking about checking in.  I tried to do it in the car, but alas with under 2 hours (or whatever their cutoff is) for a flight the web app would not let me check in.

It was a long road from Changwon to Busan.  I sat nervously in the passenger seat, checking the time on my phone about every 30 seconds, and praying to the God of Gods that there would be no traffic.  When we reached Busan's Gimhae Airport, I was out of the car nearly before it stopped, grabbed my backpack, and was frantically trying to shove the suitcase back IN to the car that was to go to my friend.  We were all confused.

airport bound: from Changwon to Busan

I rushed to the Air Asia desk, my passport held out before me, as if it were on fire.  Sweating and hoping they'd overlook the 1 minute or so I was late, before check-in officially closed.  Alas, Korea came through, they let me check in, and asked me to lay my bag on the scale, "but I'm going to carry it on" I disputed.

"Here at Air Asia we only allow for 7 kg weight limit." I tried pulling some stuff out of my bag and stuffing it into a shopping bag, that had seemingly produced itself from nowhere, only to have the handle rip off during my manic rearranging.   "Here at Air Asia, we only allow for 7 kg for a combined TOTAL weight for checked and carry on bags... You're going to have to pay for your bag being overweight, so you might as well check it."  After a hefty sigh, and trying to cram the things I had pulled out, back into the already crammed backpack... all that delicate packing and arranging out the door, with only one confusing airline policy.  Turns out it was 80,000 won to add my checked bag through to Australia, thank god my flight was cheap, and that I'd already gotten cash that morning.

Departure check-in, Gimhae Airport - Photo credit: BusanHaps

A K-pop star looking man appeared behind the woman to escort me through security, as they were worried I somehow wouldn't be able to find my way through the 4 gate terminal.  So, as he ran, and I briskly walked with my now one handled shopping bag, we went through immigration.  I handed over my alien card, as my new K-pop friend sighed and shot me dirty looks.  Once through, he again began trotting through the airport.

I tried to stop at the convenience store inside the terminal (since Air Asia provides no food or drinks on their flights, and it was a long way to Kuala Lumpur), but was quickly rushed out by yet another Air Asia gate agent, the bastard K-pop star had TOLD on me... there were to be no pre-purchased snacks for me.

Departure Hall, Gimhae Airport - Photo credit: Wikimedia

So, after this second Air Asia woman hustled me through the "gate", I loaded a bus to take me to my plane.  Irritated and out of breath, I sat on the motionless bus for 20 minutes.  I tried asking if I could return to buy my snacks, but just got the standard blank stare and giggles as had happened so many times before in Korea.

Good riddance, Korea! I'm done! Gone were the sappy and heartfelt feelings coursing through my veins as I was to embark on my journey away from the country that had been my home for the past 2 years.  Gone was the time to sit and thoughtfully compose a nice Facebook farewell to the amazing people I'd had the pleasure to call my friends!  And gone, was any desire to stay in Korea for one second longer than I had to.

I suppose I should actually thank Korea, for allowing me to depart the country without puddling into a mess of tears and emotions on my 6 hour flight to KL.  So thanks for that, because as I boarded the plane, and my stomach grumbled, all I had to focus on was my bitterness of sitting hungry for the next 6 hours.

Turns out... I fell asleep about 3 1/2 minutes into the flight, as the adrenaline wore off and fatigue caught up to me.  It was a quick (and relatively painless, albeit snack free) flight to Malaysia.

I had about 5 hours to kill in the LCCT terminal in Kuala Lumpur.  For those who aren't familiar, LCCT has to be one of the worst terminals ever.  I spent my time, chatting with the friendly few I met, and aimless roaming the small building to find either an outlet to charge my phone (not that the wifi was working great) or to find, something, anything to do.  I eventually found a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that had coffee, wifi, and an outlet.  Five short hours later, I was ready to check back in for the next leg of my flight to Melbourne, Australia.

exterior, LCCT terminal, Kuala Lumpur - photo credit: Wikipedia

inside the LCCT terminal, Kuala Lumpur - photo credit: Wikipedia

Not wanting to be caught up in the same snack-less trap I was in leaving Korea, I bought snacks just before I boarded the plane.  Having already passed through security, I bought over-priced water and an over-priced airport sandwich and cookie.  My flight was called, and I joined the ranks of people piling through the small doorway to get to the plane.  "Why such a backup?" I was wondering just as I saw the bag scanner... they were rechecking everyone's bags, and making them dispose of any food and water.

I shoved the sandwich and cookie as far down in my bag as I could, while trying to think of an argument to allow me to board the plane with my water.  Short of any realistic argument, I began guzzling the water.  I was getting my moneys worth.  My food made it through, undetected (or cared about) in my bag, and I tossed the last half of my water.  This really wasn't my day.

vacation selfie in Australia

Finally, I was Australia bound.  I, of course, had to buy water on board, but I eventually landed in Melbourne, safe and sound, and early.  Immigration stamped an already almost full page of my passport, and all was looking up.  My holiday had finally begun.

Monday, November 11, 2013

And I quote...

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Done & Done

Boom!  Bet none of you (or me for that matter) thought that this could happen. Boom! Empty and supa clean apartment.

Shit just got real.