The clock has just turned to midnight; it’s Tuesday, July 2nd, and I can’t sleep anymore. Our sleep schedules are badly messed up right now, and honestly, we’ve both been terrible at trying to correct them to Korean time. It’s no big surprise though, the trip here was fairly brutal, not to mention how my worries, a huge thunderstorm, and a panicked golden retriever kept me up the night before we started this trip!
Eric, Nick, & I woke up on Friday, June 28 around 3:30 am and drove to Hartford, where we said goodbye to Nick and went to catch our first flight to Chicago. There we had a 5+ hour long layover before our third flight, the really big one, to Tokyo’s Narita airport.
For the most part that flight was really awesome, and that’s something I should mention that was really great about our trip: everything flight-wise went incredibly smooth. There were no delays, no TSA issues, no running late to catch a flight. We flew United the entire way and of course the few days leading up to our flights we heard all kinds of horror stories from friends about what a horrid organization United is. As it turned out though, we could not have had a more pleasant experience; the flight attendants were extremely… attentive. And we got a couple meals, snacks, even ice cream at one point! Oh and also: United serves beer and wine, free of charge, to flights over the Pacific and in Asia! Within the first hour in we were a few beers down and desperately trying to stifle immense giggles as we watched the new Louis C.K. stand-up special, which I was thrilled they were showing on their in-flight entertainment. (I highly recommend watching it. Vulgar, as you’d expect, but so much funnier than anything he’s done previously!)
I did doze off for a few hours towards the end of the flight, and woke up in time for the last meal before our descent to Japan. We had a couple hour layover, and I spent a good amount of that time wistfully wandering through the over-priced souvenir shops, wishing we could have a much longer visit. I miss Japan so much. It was Eric’s first visit to Japan! He slept most of our layover though.
The jump from Japan to Korea was only a few hours. We breezed through customs, collected our bags, exchanged some money, and walked out into the incredibly muggy Seoul air. Three young Korean guys ran up to us and told us they were there to pick us up. Thank goodness too, because the original plan was to figure out a bus ride.
A few hours later they dropped us off in a small sparse apartment on the 5th floor of a high rise that looks exactly like a dozen other buildings around it. Our bed is a twin size so we threw a bunch of quilts we found in a wardrobe on the floor and have been sleeping there instead. And after fiddling with it for a half hour, we got the air conditioner working. With this hot, muggy, humid Korean weather, I cannot stop being grateful that we have air conditioning.
The time it took us to get from our house in Connecticut to our new apartment here in Cheonan was around 32 hours. We left before it was light on Friday, but once it did become light it didn’t get dark until we touched down in Korea, and we completely missed Saturday.
One final note, mainly for those of you who travel a lot or are planning a long plane trip: I have flown internationally about once a year (sometimes more) for the past 12 years, and on this most recent flight I think I have finally cracked the code to a comfortable experience: pick out an amazingly comfortable, but nice, outfit. My good friend Leah would always wear her “ninja outfit”: black stretch pants, black t-shirt, black hoodie. For this flight, I got a pair of possibly the most comfortable pants in the world: some black “harem” style pants from H&M. (Sorry for the buzz marketing, but they are awesome pants!) They’re ridiculously lightweight, which is perfect for stuffy humidity while you’re waiting for flights, baggage, tickets, customs, etc. But also fully cover your legs to keep you warm from that stale air they pump onto you during the flight. Plus, having your legs fully covered keeps you from noticing the prickliness of leg hair and distracts you from the fact that you desperately need a shower… Then I wore a not-too-tight tank top and a nice roomy stretchy shirt over that. Also, and this was an amazing idea I’m so glad I included: I wore flip flops, but packed a pair of super comfy knitted socks that I changed into as soon as I got onto the plane. Finally, no dangly earrings to get stuck or poke your face when you fall asleep. Oh, and pack your carry on super light (but do include a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and extra pair of underwear). Having next to nothing to stow when you’re getting on and off the plane takes a lot of stress away. Ok, I think that’s all. Sorry this was a bit long, but I had the most comfortable plane ride ever, so I wanted to share some advice!