Saturday, November 28, 2009

Boston to San Francisco to Seoul to Daegu. 36 straight hours of fun!

3:45am wake-up.

On roughly 45 minutes of sleep, the ride from Duxbury into Boston was a quiet, somber one for Emma and I. We showed our tiredness.

5:00am. Arrival at Logan. After saying our goodbyes, I shuffled into United check-in struggling under my unreasonable quantity and bulk of luggage. I barely get in line before I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. I have no hands, and ignore it at first, but it keeps buzzing away. I finally set some things down and see that it's Emma. I left my iPod in her car! No worse way to start off an epic traveling journey than to do so without any tunes. Leaving a few of my bags (to the dismay of Homeland Security), I went back out. The return was anything but easy, as at first Emma entered through the wrong airline door and I ran in the opposite direction of where she had parked, then ran the other way and found her car empty. We eventually found each other, crisis #1 averted.

5:15am. Checked in with United. Got asked by a dude helping people find the right desk if I really was taking all the stuff I was carrying and if I was aware of the existence of excessive baggage fees. Towards those traveling on a week-long domestic vacations, I would understand his comments. I didn't feel up for offering an explanation though. All he got was a "yeah, thanks." The lady behind the desk took an extra ten minutes triple checking to make sure that the ridiculous sum I was paying to bring my guitar was correct. I appreciated her persistence.

TSA security: A carousel of fun. I had my pockets empty, belt, shoes, and watch off lickity-split and was pleased to move through line quickly. Once I passed through the metal detector, my sense of smooth efficiency evaporated compliments of the woman monitoring the x-ray scanner.

"Bag check, lane one."


My backpack, laptop, and bucket o' trinkets were SEPARATELY flagged as items in need of further inspection. Shoeless and defeated I followed an officer into a glass room to the side. Let the shakedown commence.

I assured them I had no liquids, aerosols or machetes in my carry-on. They ended up re-scanning my backpack not once, not twice, but three times, each time removing another few items until it was pretty well half-emptied onto the table. By the time they let me go, it was 5:45. Gathering up my things, I noticed that my laptop was missing. In the midst of everything, I didn't notice that it was not returned.

Of course, the dude that had originally taken it was nowhere in sight, so I tried to describe him as I made my way back to the woman on the x-ray scanner, hoping she could help. As soon as I stepped onto a "line" that was really just a rug, I was yelled at by another guy that sternly told me that I had intruded on "his office." I'll knock next time, asshole.

I went back to the glass room and luckily found it in a bin on a chair.

5:53 I ran to the gate and found an employee waiting for me. I was last on and they pretty much closed the gate behind me.

6:15 As advertised in the captain's introductory remarks, the take-off was a bumpy one. South Korea, here I come.

San Francisco. Aside from a good Skype chat, a greasy breakfast burrito, and a large Anchor Steam ale, not much to say about my first encounter with the west coast. I'll be back.
Take-off: 1:30pm Pacific time (4:30pm Eastern). Twelve hour flight commence.

I took small cat naps here and there, re-read the Great Gasby (once again confirming the importance of re-reading classics with some distance from high school), and watched the second half of a movie starring Paul Giamatti as himself. I figured out that he somehow sold his soul to some Russians earlier in the movie and eventually traveled there to reclaim it from a soap opera star. I really should have seen the first half of the movie. Not for everyone, but I'm a Giamatti fan.

The flight route took us up the west coast, around Alaska and down past Siberia, and over Japan before we landed in Incheon International. The time is 6:45pm, Sunday. To add to the exhaustion of the travels alone, the local time clock effectively moved forward 14 hours on me. Yeesh.
The ultra-modern Incheon International Airport, constructed around 5 years ago.

My experience at Incheon was MUCH better than in Prague, I was able to withdraw cash without any issue, make a phone call to my director that I was to meet in Daegu, buy a bus ticket AND get on the right bus. Great success.

12:30am Monday, I arrive in Daegu. 10:30am Sunday morning for all you folks back home.