Monday, January 18, 2010

Back in the Land of Morning Calm, pt 1 - safe landing

Life in Korea is always an adventure, but rarely more so than the days since I got back.
The first thing you have to know about Korea is that flying to Seoul is a bitch. It's 14 hours, or in other words, a little longer than a flight from New York to London + NY to Paris, back to back. It doesn't matter how much you like movies, or complimentary wine, or Skymall (for the record: lots, even more, and oh-my-god yes, respectively). The flight is uncomfortably long, no matter how you slice it. Highlights this time included sleeping, 500 Days of Summer>, and the USB port in the seat in front of me that allowed me to keep my iPod charged and working for the whole flight, therefore allowing me to listen to the entire new Ella Fitzgerald CD set all the way through - twice.
After that now-familiar 14-hour flight from JFK to Incheon, I waited for ages for my bags at baggage claim, cleared customs and immigration, and bought a ticket for the 3-hour bus ride back to Daejeon. My host father met me at the Daejeon bus stop, for which I will be eternally grateful, since I was lugging two heavy rolling bags and a carry-on through solidly iced-over sidewalks.
Once I got back to the apartment, I got a small second wind when my host brother met me at the door with the Transformers toy I'd given him for Christmas cradled in his hand (I've since seen him play with it almost every day, and I can't express the warm and fuzzies that gives me). I exchanged a few basic pleasantries, stood motionless under a hot shower for long enough to thaw out, and flopped into bed.
The next day, I woke up around 6:30 and zoned in and out of sleep for a couple of hours. At 9, when I decided it was a reasonable hour to be awake, I unpacked and set about a full day of dedicated loafing around.
Until Keely called.
See, the thing about me is that I have this fear of missing out on fun. My natural inclination is to stay home by a fire, snuggle whatever small domesticated mammal is within reach, and watch movies or talk to friends. But do too much of that and you get, well, a little boring. So maybe I overcompensate. At any rate, after lots of wanting to be the sort of person who will drop everything to do something ridiculous that sounds like it might be fun, sometime in college, I actually did. It started small, with stuff like going with Louisa to Brown on a Wednesday night and driving back before class Thursday morning, just 'cause. It escalated to bigger things, like "hey, maybe I'll move to Korea for a year despite knowing nothing about the language, culture, or history of the country." Basically what I'm trying to say is that when it comes to travel, I'm much more likely to say "why not?" than "why?"

So Keely called, and said she and Emilee were going to the Hwacheon Ice Festival, and did would I like to come?

Yes, I answered. See above, re: why not?

After I hung up, I googled it. Hwacheon Ice Festival. Main attractions include: ice skating, ice sculptures, ice soccer - but most of all, ice fishing.

All of those things have something pretty important in common -- they all sound like things that I have absolutely, positively no interest in doing.


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