Seoul Travelog – Day 1 – Over the North Pole and Through The Fears

Once in a Lifetime rarely has the benefit of foresight. Usually, you don’t get the sense something will never happen again until it’s all but a memory. That’s why this trip to Korea is so special. We have had the benefit of knowing it was coming for quite a while. And if we’re being perfectly honest, we were kind of bracing for it rather than embracing it.

I have been out of the country exactly twice. Once on my honeymoon 18 years ago for a one day stop in the tourist hole of Cozumel, Mexico. And then for three hours to have tacos and booze at the ripe old age of 19 in Juarez. I don’t even like driving to Kansas.

But as I mentioned yesterday, this was a trip that couldn’t be passed up. And whatever reservations or anxiety I had about flying over the Pacific ocean, would have to subside.

Well, right off the bat, one of my fears was quelled, when we took off out of Detroit and the flight plan took us over THE FRIGGIN’ NORTH POLE. No open water until the giant circle we had to take AROUND North Korea. Gotta steer clear of the crazy ones.

I’d also never flown on a flight longer than about three hours. This one would beat it out just barely. Fourteen hours of flight time (not including the 2 hour flight from KC to Detroit.)

That’s 14 hours in a cramped seat that didn’t lean back. Obviously, we tried to stay up and pull an all-nighter the night before. Which worked except for about an hour. That would surely be enough to sleep most of the plane right, right? Well, no. Turns out that there are two ways to sleep on a plane. Hunched over with your face into the headrest in front of you, or not – to not sleep on the plane.

I opted for B since there were some pretty decent free movies on the flight, plus the first two episode of The Good Place – which is pretty funny.

Anyway. I digress. I can sleep later when I’m dead.

We had middle seats, but not like the middle on Southwest flights, where you’re cramming your fat body between two other fat bodies. This plane was huge and had two aisles. So we were in the middle section. I had the aisle, and Brett – all six foot of him now – elbows and knees flailing – got to sit bitch.

The flight was rather enjoyable. I’d also never flown on a flight with real food – at least not since the early 2000’s. And this flight had two really good meals plus two really good snacks stretched across 14 hours. Brett pulled the rookie mistake and had to drop a deuce about two hours before landing. Rookie.

But we made it. We survived the flight and as we were walking off the jetway, it started to hit Brett. “We’re, like, in a totally other country.”

He had been relatively quiet in the weeks leading up to the trip. While I am not completely fluent in 14-year old, this normally means two things. The first is that there are just other things on his mind. His girlfriend. Baseball. Video games. And maybe somewhere on the list, his school work. But secondarily, it may also mean that he’s worried, or anxious. And this is what I feared.

We have long history of being traveling partners. We’ve been to nearly all the major and minor league ballparks in the Midwest and take at least a trip a year. But as the teenage years have come upon us, it’s obvious that traveling with his old man just isn’t as fun anymore. And that’s okay. That’s just a fact of life.

But I didn’t want him to completely hate traveling with me to Korea. And last week, he got quieter and quieter about it.

But walking off of that jetway and him speaking rapidly observing all of the millions of tiny differences between Incheon Airport and Kansas City (oh wow! look at the license plates! Oh man, this is a totally other language! Oh man, the signs are in two languages!) my fears began to subside. I hadn’t dragged him 14 hours to be miserable for a week. He was into it.

And from there – there’s nothing that’s going to stop us this week.

To come will be stories of our first dinner out with friends, the pickled radishes, and the gift exchange.

But I can end today’s report by saying, this is truly going to be a once in a lifetime experience and truly mean it.

Peace and health. 안녕

1 Comment

  1. Steve Lusk

    An observation I have made over the years listening to people talk about their travels to foreign lands is that they usually have something to say about the toilet paper. So, I have to ask…

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