It was a long ass day. Started out with intermittent power outages in my hotel. When the lights went out (we’d leave the light on in the bathroom) it made a popping sound. The first time was around 0300. The noise woke me up and I laid there worrying how the hell I was going to pack the rest of my shit in a pitch black room. About 10 minutes later the lights “popped” back on. Relieved I went back to sleep, only to hear the lights pop off again a few minutes later. This cycle continued until my 0500 alarm sounded.
Rushed around and managed to get most of my gear ready to travel before the next blackout. Used the phone light for awhile and then once again power was restored. Got a call at 0545 that my driver had arrived, so it was off to Manila. Arrived without incident at the airport by 0930 for my 1230 flight.
The airport in Manila, much like the city, sucks. As I waited to board by flight it occurred to me that I was most likely completing my last vacation in the Philippines.
The flight departed one hour late (of course!) and landed me at Incheon just before 1800. Almost all the passengers on the fully loaded Asiana 747 were transferring to other flights so I was able to sail through immigration. And lo and behold, my bag was one of the first to hit the carousel. Hoofed over to the AREX express train and made it ten minutes before it departed for Seoul station.
Which gave me time to figure out how to cut the zip tie the agent in Manila had helpfully used to lock my bag. The bag that contained my jacket and gloves for the sub-freezing weather in Korea. Brilliantly, I remembered I had some nail clippers in the unlocked front pocket of my suitcase. Woot! They did the trick. Donned my sweatshirt and jacket and I was once again dressed appropriately for my environment.
I like the AREX. But I always get lost trying to get up five floors of escalators to the main floor exits at Seoul station. Last night was no exception. And then my AREX ticket wouldn’t work on the exit turnstiles, so I had to hit the help button (on two different occasions) to be let out. Once I exited the station I grabbed a cab and got to re-experience the joy of miscommunication with a non-English speaking Seoul cabbie (and yes, it is MY fault for having not learned even basic Korean). I did say “Noksapyeong yak” which he repeated, but then started entering the location in his phone like he didn’t know where it was. I’m all like “you know, near Itaewon” which didn’t seem to register. Eventually he figured it out and got me there. The fair was W4600 so I gave him W12,000 and asked for 5000 back. Which created more confusion and miscommunication. When he figured out I was just wanting to give him a decent tip, he seemed pleased.
I wanted Noksapyeong because it was the closet location I could think of to where I’d left my car parked on the Army base at Yongsan (near the gas station). I had to hike a couple of blocks to get there, but of course that’s no big deal. Loaded up and hit the highway at just past eight. I was really surprised to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic heading south at that hour. Frustrating to be sure for a weary traveler and I was lamenting my decision to not spend the night in Seoul. Once I got past Seongnam things cleared up and I had smooth 100 kmh sailing the rest of the way home, arriving just after 2130.
A long and tiring trip, almost as boring as this post. If you can imagine that. I did have lots of time to think which in my case is often not a good thing. But one of my thoughts was that I had traveled from the future back to the present. And made pretty good time at that.