Friday, October 31, 2008
After a long 8-hour lay over at Los Angles International Airport, it was finally time for me to board the Korean Air airplane to head for Seoul, South Korea. The interesting parts about the layover at LAX was
1) I had to go through security all over again
2) I couldn’t check in for my Korean Air flight until 4 hours before it departed
3) I already felt as though I wasn’t in the US
4) It was dark
5) It smelt like Chinese food
6) The whole terminal seemed to be under construction
So, after finally being able to check in for my flight, it was then time to wait some more.
When I boarded the plane I was shocked and amazed at the enormity of it! There were stairs on the plane, about 15 flight attendants, 57 rows, and 10 seats across! It was like I was in that one movie with Jodie Foster the one where she has designed this impossibly large aircraft. I can’t seem to remember the title of the movie… Oh, “Flight Plan” I think is what it is called.
Anyhoo… after walking for what seemed to be a mile back I finally found my row 41 Seat H. I chose an aisle seat because I knew that in a 12+-hour flight I would need to use the restroom quite a bit. Upon locating my seat I was shocked (once again) by the goodies that awaited me. There was a pale green zipper sachet filled with matching pale green socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, and lanyard. There was also a pillow, blanket and water bottle. It almost felt as though I was in First Class had it not been the still uncomfortably small seats that didn’t seem to recline far enough.
After trying to juggle all of my newfound goodies, stowing away my carry on above me, and placing my backpack under the seat in front of me it was time for me to sit down. Just as I got settled a bubbly petite Korean lady, whom later I found out is named Chanel (pronounced like the perfume), came abounding up to my row and said, “Oh! This is you?!”
My fear of having some smelly, large, snoring man sitting next to me quickly faded. In fact, Chanel sat at the window seat, I sat at the aisle seat, and no one sat in between us. How cool is that?!
It didn’t take me long to put on my eye mask, earplugs, and the hood of my sweater before I was dreaming of Guangzhou, China. When I woke I checked my watch and we had already been flying for an hour! Yes! I missed take off and hopefully, I was thinking, this means that I shall be able to sleep most of the way!
However, after discovering the headphones coyly placed in the back pocket of the seat in front of me I just had to check out the in-flight entertainment. And how efficient of these flight attendants to place the headphones where I could see them once I woke up! I was impressed!
I plugged in the headphones and decided to watch a movie titled “Kit Kittredge: All American Girl” staring Abigail Breslin. I didn’t get too far into the movie when the entourage of flight attendants started the flow of moist towelettes, food, and beverages.
First it was a wrapped sanitary cloth, then peanuts, and then dinner. For dinner we had the choice between an American meal and a traditional Korean meal. I probably should have tried the Korean meal, but I opted for the American meal. The meal consisted of complimentary white wine, pieces of beef, noodles, shrimp potato salad, a roll, and a piece of cheesecake for dessert all of which were pretty tasty. Next, the flight attendants came around and offered tea or coffee to drink.
After the meal I was so content that I decided to stop my movie and sleep for a bit. I can’t really recall all the details of the 12+-hour flight, but I did sleep for the majority of the flight. I woke up a couple hours after the first meal and watched some more of my movie, drank a bunch of water, stretched, drank an airborne, took a Sudafed, and went back to sleep.
I kept falling in and out of sleep to check my watch to determine how long I had been sleeping. Each increment was at least an hour long. Yay! I was sleeping! The next time I woke up to stretch, I discovered the flight attendants serving another meal. This time we had about 4 hours left in our flight and the meal was breakfast. Again, I opted for the traditional American meal rather than the Korean rice pourage. Although the pourage sounded so tasty!
The American breakfast consisted of an omelet, potatoes, sausage, yogurt, fruit, and a muffin. Needless to say I did not finish eating it all! I was still full from dinner!
After breakfast I fell asleep for the last time before arriving in Korea. Chanel trying to climb over me to use the restroom awakened me. Then I heard the captain’s voice come over the speakers informing us that we should prepare ourselves for the dissent into South Korea. It was pretty cool because on the screen in front of me I could choose to follow the plane to see where we were at, how fast the plane was going, how much further we had to go, etc.
The dissent into South Korea went pretty smooth. I just sat there amazed that I, Stephanie Kay Wells, was preparing to land in South Korea! I had just completed my first LONG journey across the Pacific Ocean! I got off the plane and didn’t feel too bad except for feeling extremely dirty! I credit me doing well on the plane to many different people’s advice accumulated together. Advice such as drink LOTS of water, wear socks, stretch/walk around while in the air, and lotion up your skin before boarding. I followed these suggestions and did great!
When we all got off the plane we were greeted by a deserted airport. It was only 4am in South Korea. Nothing was open. There was a hotel in the airport that I stopped into thinking I would just see how much it would cost to get in there, lay down, and take a shower. It cost $82 US dollars! No thanks, a sink would do. Therefore, I made my way to the bathroom where I preceded to unpack my clean change of clothes, wash my hair, face, and body (the best I could with only access to a sink), and then changed out of my dirty clothes. I was amazed at how much better I felt after I did this.
With wet hair and clean clothes I headed to the 24-hour snack bar where I purchased a coffee and water bottle. I set up my laptop, ate trail mix, and enjoyed sending emails to my loved ones. I was then ready to take on my next journey to Guangzhou, China.
My journey to Guangzhou, China was definitely not as exciting as my journey to Seoul, South Korea. I sat by a delightfully old Chinese man who tried to impress me with his few English words. As I was reading my magazine he would point to a word and read it in English. He would then elbow me and wait for me to be impressed by him. It was kind of cute except he has no concept of personal space. But, because he was an elderly gentleman I didn’t mind too much.
Again, I was served a meal on the plane, but this time I didn’t have the choice of an American meal. It was either seafood or pork. I chose pork because the thought I eating seafood on a plane just kind of made me apprehensive. The pork meal was very tasty. It was seasoned pork with white rice and spinach as the entrée. Then it was a roll, salad, and pineapple. The salad was a simple green salad, but had a really odd dark gray, ½ dollar coin sized circle in it. I turned to the man sitting next to me, made a fish movement with my hands, and asked, “Fish?” He nodded. I was hesitant to try it, but eventually did and it was only “okay” tasting, a little rubbery for my taste.
I was not able to sleep at all on the flight to Guangzhou. I was just way too excited. When I arrived it was pretty smooth getting my bags and getting through customs. All that customs consisted of was getting a stamp in my passport. I was pretty surprised that no one went through my carry-on. As I was exiting baggage claim, I was expecting that I would have to call for my ride to come and get me. Much to my surprise my ride, Susan, was holding a sign that said “English First.” I smiled when I saw her and said, “Susan?!” She responded, “Stephanie?!” “Yes!” I thought.
We went outside and waited for a van to come and pick us up to take me to my hotel. My first thoughts about Guangzhou were palm trees, smog, and humidity. All of which, I could get used to. All in all I could not have asked for a more smooth transition into Guangzhou.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
It was Sunday, July 13th, 2008 that I made the decision to go to China. As many of you know, it wasn’t solely my decision, but for the sake of being politically correct I am saying that it was my decision. For the record all of my posts will be as politically correct as possible so that all who may read my blogs will walk away feeling content.
I was offered the job to go to China at the end of May. I was hesitant to make a decision right away because I knew that it was a big decision that required quite a bit of time to think about it. While I was debating whether or not to go to China, I continued interviewing and applying for jobs around the area.
Finally, one day it just hit me and became very apparent that I was supposed to go to China.
Right now I am less than 11 hours away from leaving my house to travel to the airport. My brother’s comment this evening was, “Wow, you are so calm about this.” I responded by saying, “Yes, yes I guess I am.”
I know that all will work out wonderfully and I am not going to be lonely in China. *smile*
Until next time...
(The picture was taken in San Francisco in front of the Chinese Consulate).