Sunday, July 20, 2008

Almost there...

I'm in the Incheon Airport in Seoul right now waiting for my connecting flight to Ulaan Baatar. The newly opened Concourse A is pretty nifty with the best perk yet--- free high speed internet! With lots of groovy laptops and cute little cafe seats to enjoy it from. I also just enjoyed a foot massage and a shower (not free) which was much needed.

I have to say, I didn't really feel like I was a world traveller until last week when I had to get extra pages added to my passport-- extra pages! Since that day, two Thursdays back, I've been exhausted from travelling. We live a four hour bus ride from Chiang Mai, which is where I had to go to get the pages at the US Consulate and to secure a visa for China at the Chinese consulate (a whole other story). A few days after that we went on our little trip to Sukhothai (described below) and then two days later took off to Chiang Mai again. Although my flight didn't leave until Saturday night we came Thursday since Al had some days off from work due to a religious holiday.

We decided to take it easy in town, just doing our own walking tours with a lot of window shopping and temple hopping. It was a lot of fun but I was already tired before even leaving for the airport. I had some complications also because I bought my flight to Seoul and my flight to Mongolia at separate times so in Chiang Mai they wouldn't check my luggage all the way through. When I connected in Bangkok I had to get my luggage and check it in again, this time they were put through to UB. Then we had an overnight flight to Seoul, leaving at 11:30 at night and arriving at 6:30 am. It wasn't the best flight-- I have a number of complaints about Korean Airlines that I won't get into now but on this particular flight two things stood out. At 3:30 am they decided to have breakfast service! Lights on, hollering and banging, everyone wake up and eat. Seriously? It was 3:30 Korea time and 1:30 Bangkok time--- no one needed breakfast. We landed 2 hours after everything was cleaned up. Could the timing have been better maybe? I think so. Also, the man next to me wanted to switch and have my window seat (as translated by the flight attendant) I said no. I was polite, smiled, and explained that I took the time to request my seat early and was not inclined to switch. But she didn't explain to him why I said no, even when I asked her to please do, so the guy was pissed at me the rest of the flight. Look dude, check in early or call the airline yourself, don't harass other passengers for better seats. Grrr...

Then came the part I've been worrying about-- touchdown in Seoul. Here's the thing-- I just got paid two days ago into my Korean bank account. There are two possible ways for me to get this money--- by myself in Korea (difficult for me) or making a friend in Korea get it and transfer it to me (very annoying for them), I hoped and hoped there would be an ATM in the Seoul terminal where I could simply withdraw the cash and then exchange it for another currency-- after all Bangkok airport had ATM machines in the terminals, every international airport I've ever been to has cash machines in the terminals, Korea will too, right? I had this niggling thing in the back of my mind, I didn't remember seeing any the last time I went through. Sure enough, no, no cash machines within the terminal (but there are foreign exchange kiosks). I had to truck through immigration, get my cash on the other side and then-- wait three hours to be let back in because the ticketing desks on the other side weren't open yet (I had a six hour layover) fun, fun! Can't wait to do it again on my way back through.

Ah well, the shower and massage helped a lot-- almost there!

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