post 423

it’s 16:30 on sunday, may 22 korea/japan or 2:30 on sunday, may 22 central.

yesterday we met up with peter and a few of his korean friends from college. they took us out to a huge lunch of korean barbecue and various other dishes. it was quite a spread. after lunch we wandered a bit around seoul eventually arriving at a starbucks to meet a few more of peter’s friends, including a girl from indianapolis who is in korea teaching english. after hanging out for a little while we packed out the group and headed out to find supper. we found ourselves once again at a korean barbecue joint where, once again, way too much food was ordered and consumed.

earlier peter had learned that another friend of his was in town with a group from indiana university kokomo, so plans were made to have them join us after supper. they weren’t available until about 21:00, so between supper and meeting them we went a little bar hopping. we got kicked out of two bars for smoking cigars, which was both entertaining and disappointing.

the group from iuk was about half a dozen girls. we met them at a subway stop and proceeded to a karaoke bar, the kind with private rooms not the public kind. we spent the next four hours or thereabouts singing (horribly in my case) and drinking. i think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all involved. after a short cab ride adam and i were back to our hotel by 2:00.

this morning we again met up with peter and one of his korean friends, jae. we had lunch, went shopping for trinkets, and generally wandered around a bit. we got coffee in the first, if not only, starbucks the
sign of which is in the local language and not english. mid afternoon jae took adam and i to the train station and then went on to take peter to the airport.

as i type this i’m on a ktx train from seoul to busan. we’ve got a hotel booked on the beach in busan for tonight and the plan is to take a cab to see the un korean war cemetery in busan. we might go out a little tonight, but we have to get up early tomorrow to catch the ferry from busan to fukuoka, japan.

post 422

it’s 10:40 on saturday, may 21 korea/japan time, 20:40 on friday, may 20 central.

adam and i went out wandering around seoul a bit yesterday, but it was raining so we didn’t wander off too far. we stopped in at a little restaurant in an ally for lunch. we don’t know korean and the waitress didn’t know english, so ordering involved a lot of pointing to the menu and confusion. we ordered some sort of beef/kimchi barbecue prepared on a burner at our table that came with a dozen or so little side dishes. we had no idea how the food was supposed to be consumed, but we winged it and it turned out ok. it was a little more expensive than i would have liked at 58,000 for the two of us, but it was a learning experience.

post 421

it’s 19:19 central time on thursday the 19th, or 9:19 korea/japan time on friday the 20th.

i made it to seoul alright. finding my way around the airport without the benefit of knowing any korean (and at 4:30 without many people at all around) was a little disorienting, but i made it out without incident. i withdrew some won from my bank account and found a bus that would take me to the hotel where adam rusch was already waiting. he got in the night before and was half asleep when i walked into the room at 7:00.

i didn’t get any more sleep since the last post but am feeling alright. we’re talking about going out for brunch here in the next hour or two, and then just walk around the area checking things out. our hotel is in what appears to be a pretty happening area. there were a whole lot of little restaurants, bars, and clubs i passed on the short walk from the bus stop to the hotel. tomorrow peter will be in town and we’ll go out with him and his korean friends.

post 420

it’s 10 am central, or midnight korea/japan time. i’m 9 hours into a flight that’s supposed to be about 13 hours 10 minutes. we’re cruising at 36,000 feet at a speed of 552 mph and are over the pacific ocean off the coast of russia (just east and a little south of the sea of okhotsk).

so far it has been the most pleasant flight i’ve ever been taken. i’m flying business class, so right off things were pretty awesome. there is no first class on this flight, so we were the second to board after the handicapped and folks with small children. the seats are wonderfully comfortable. they have a very complicated control panel to allow you to customize the chair in all sorts of ways. they even lay almost completely flat. the best part, however, is the leg room. having a seat that stretches almost completely out flat requires quite a bit of room, so when the seat is in normal upright seat mode there is about two and a half feet between my knees and the seat in front of me. it’s quite a welcomed change from coach!

about half an hour after we took off flight attendants came around with menus for a “heavy snack”, which really was more like light supper. they had a couple of western-style options and a korean bibimbap. being on a flight to korea i saw no reason not to go with the korean food, so ordered that. it came out on real dishes (not paper or plastic), metal flatware (even metal chopsticks), and a few small sides. after the snack they brought out a fruit plate and dessert wine. the food was great, nothing like what is stereotypical of airline food.

during and continuing on after supper they had the dilemma with vince vaughn and kevin james playing. the one thing i’ve got to knock asiana on is the in-flight entertainment system. every seat (in business class, at least) has its own personal monitor and controls, but it looks like they have 10 vcrs playing 10 different programs in a loop. sure, you get to change the channel between the available programs, but they don’t start and stop on demand and you are limited to just a few choices. and i am pretty sure they are vcrs, too. the picture quality and goofy tracking artifacts make it look like the programs are on vhs. i thought ahead enough to rip a bunch of my dvds and put them on my laptop, but unfortunately the sound card in my laptop isn’t very loud and it’s very hard to hear the movies i try to play over the airplane sounds.

after supper and the dilemma (around 6 pm korea/japan) they turned down the cabin lights. i was pretty tired so i stretched out my seat and slept on-and-off for about six hours, which brings us to now. no matter how awesome the seats are they just don’t compare to a real bed. so i’m now in a position where i’m still tired and i know i should sleep more if i can to help me adjust to the change in timezone, but i’m not tired enough to sleep in an airplane seat. oh well. i guess i’ll just lay back and listen to some music.

post 419

the rule of thumb as i have always known it is that you arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight leaves, or 3 hours if it’s an international flight. my flight to seoul departs at 1 am, so i get to ohare on time at 10 pm. getting checked in and through security took me less than 20 minutes, so i’ve got something like 2 hours to kill before boarding starts. luckily i’m flying business class, so i get to chill in the vip lounge drinking free booze and munching on free snacks. (being business class probably is why check in was so quick in the first place. i got to cut in front of all of the suckers flying coach.) 
 
thank goodness i brought some movies!