Thursday, July 02, 2009

Day 2/3 – The Neverending Plane Ride

Morning in Chicago dawned with a big breakfast at the hotel buffet, since we didn’t know when and how much we would eat on the plane. After that, we packed up the rest of the stuff and took the airport train over to the international terminal.

Getting through check-in and security was uneventful and we headed to our gate. We had the chance to meet some of the people we would be traveling with for the next two weeks, and the travel agency had set it up so that we would all be sitting together on the plane.

Think a 13 hour plane ride sounds long? Let me assure you, it’s longer than you think.

Ah, yes, the plane. We were on a Korean Air Boeing 747. Just after we boarded, the captain started making announcements about “technical difficulties”. So we sat on the runway for about an hour, because 13 hours on the plane isn’t enough. Of course, if an airplane is going to take you over 7,000 miles, you have to be pretty sure that everything is working.

There were TVs in the seatbacks with a selection of movies, so that helped to pass the time (I watched Yes Man and The Wrestler). Still, it seemed to take forever to get to Seoul. My butt would start to hurt after sitting for an hour-and-a-half or so, so I would get up for a few minutes. Unfortunately, as big as it is, there isn’t really anyplace to go on a 747.

One positive, though – the Korean Air flight crew was incredibly attentive and gave us great service. They food was decent enough for airplane food, and they kept coming by with drinks, snacks and such. The 13 hours in the air would have been even more difficult to take without them.

Finally, we made it to Seoul’s Incheon airport, which is almost brand new and looks it. It was opened in 2001 and supplements the older Gimpo airport you may remember from M*A*S*H. We met the Korean Ties program folks and then took a bus ride to the hotel.

It was after 7:00 PM local time (which equates to 6:00 AM in Boston) by the time we got here, so we checked into our rooms, had a quick dinner (pizza – we weren’t feeling too adventurous tonight) and now we’re heading to bed. One of the young guys working in the restaurant chuckled a bit at my accent when I attempted to say “thank you” in Korean. I wasn’t offended. No doubt I sound pretty funny. The real tour of Korea starts tomorrow with a visit to a Korean folk village (sort of a Korean version of Old Sturbridge Village). I’ll have a report and some pictures on the Flickr page in the next report.


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