Monday, December 10, 2012

Stuck at 인천국제공항 Part 1

A good 38 days ago (damn, that was long!) on Nov.1, for the first time in my life I had to travel alone. I mean, I've always had my brother with me during plane rides but this was the first time I'd have to travel alone. I wasn't afraid. Instead, I was very very excited that I purchased a regular instead of first class Meitetsu train ticket to get to 中部国際空港 which meant that I:  

           a. won't be able to sit down with 2 20kg. ea luggage
           b. will be able to sit down on one of my luggage
           c. will be so unlucky to ride on a first-class-cars-only-so-present-me-your-first-class-
               ticket-now train that I'd have to pay the fare difference

Any of the three could've happened except that all three happened. I was so worked up and basically harassing the MANACA machine for my train ticket that the thought of being seat-less for the whole 25 minute train ride to the airport only occurred to me after the regular ticket was dispensed. Of course, I also wasn't able to sit down on my way to 金山駅 and that was a good 45 minute train ride from home. And when I did pay the fare difference to get me a seat, the rather sad-looking Japanese man in adorably cute uniform told me "NO SEAT" which to my ears now sounded "NO SIT" and the horror images of me being thrown out of the train with my luggage came flashing... he just meant that the train was full and even if I'd have to pay the fare difference and have a first-class ticket, I still wouldn't be able to sit down as all seats were already allocated. Who the hell travels on Nov.1 aside from me? 

I of course got myself a really loooonnnnggg siiiiittttt when I arrived at 中部国際空港 and the friendly Korean Air ground personnel told me I couldn't check in until 3 hours later and that I can do "self check-in" in one of the booths but they still won't accept my luggage. So 3 hours and a flight later, I was happily in 한국. KOREA KOREA KOREA!!! And I was still at the airport greatly admiring everything even the temperature which was at that time 9 deg.C, a good drop from our humble 20 deg.C. I was actually admiring in great great detail and spent way too much precious minutes in the bathroom... looking at myself and feeling practically frantic at how I'd look, facing all those Koreans!!! So the ending was, I was waiting in line in Immigration, which I'd have to pass if I'd want to go on that transit tour. But luck of all luck, there was only 3 hours before my flight to Cebu and I was still at the Immigration line. Why, did the line have to be so long and in all of the days, why, did it have to be today? 

Today when I could've gotten myself into 

and in flea markets or even high-end fashion outlets and shopping malls even if I'd have to window shop instead of actually shopping. Or maybe I'd be in a palace somewhere and finally get a taste of the Joseon era that I enjoyed experiencing in Korean dramas. But I wasn't. I was waiting in line and I had to call the Transit Tour Desk to ask if I'd still have time to do a tour. The Korean woman was patient with me, surprisingly. I was expecting she'd snap back at me when I was all sulky and feeling helpless but she didn't. She calmly told me that there simply wasn't enough time and that I'd be happy off inside the airport shopping in the over 90 duty-free shops they had. 

Still feeling down, I detoured and found a door saying TRANSIT *something* (I can't even remember it now!) and came upon a Chinese woman being shouted at by a Korean personnel due to communication difficulties. The Korean personnel was telling the Chinese woman to get her laptop outside of the bag and place it in a different tray but somehow the Chinese woman kicked of her shoes and placed them on the tray which got me thinking into untying my shoes right that minute. And so there were shouts and all but in the end, they both understood each other and it was now my turn to be inspected. I wasn't bringing any laptop so there wasn't going to be a problem, I suppose. And I sure as hell was ready to untie my shoes should there be any need - like the good, compliant, sulky tourist I was at the moment.

So I visited a few shops here and there and realized I didn't have any Korean Won on me apart from the meagre 5000 Won which would barely buy me a drink. I looked for a ForEx and found one nearest me. I changed my 10,000 Yen and got something like 100,000+ Won but I was so busy looking past the teller who was counting my money. I was looking at my favorite and one of the most beautiful Korean actress I've ever seen on TV and on the internet - HA JI WON! Oh, I'm such a sucker for her it still amazes me I didn't change gender preferences yet! This was running behind the now curious teller (looking at her back and touching her hair to see what I was looking at):

After my brief, dumbfounding experience (at least for my part) at ForEx, I went into a shop which sold magazines, books, and KPOP merchandise. I rummaged for an English-Korean, Korean-English Dictionary and didn't find any. I was really really desperate to learn Korean but I was a lazy-ass too, so to speak. So I figured, maybe a dictionary would do me fine for the moment. No luck in that. So I moved over to the magazines and I saw SINGLES and remembered quite vividly that Eunhyuk my ever dearest sarang had pictorials for it. There was only one issue and it was a girl on the cover who I didn't really know and it frustrated me to not find my oppa anywhere. Then, 3 magazines to the left of it was ASIA TV magazine featuring SM TOWN Live Concert which meant that I'd be able to see SUPER JUNIOR on it. I grabbed it along with me for the fear of losing it. Next up was the KPOP merchandise section with the albums glaring at me almost begging me to buy them. I'd think of Minhyuk oppa later as I passed on CN Blue, Seungho my love, I've bought your 2 recent albums with MBLAQ and even a DVD on Monalisa so I'd have to pass up too. I was looking for SUPER JUNIOR'S VERSION A of SEXY FREE & SINGLE and I couldn't find it!!!! So I looked up and started scavenging for the limited edition photobook they said to have relased and didn't find any but...

in navy-blue, hard-bound and too big to be an album kind of big, it read Sexy Free & Single... italized and in a font I've known too well. I swear, I didn't expect it to be this big. This could pass on as our thesis if only it was green and had the USC logo and our school name on it in gold letterings. I was practically drooling and grabbing at the same time. There was only one on display. I know they could've hidden the others but damn, I was getting this one for sure! So in the end, I spent W11,800 for the magazine and W30,000 for the album which I've decided not to open until I get to Cebu =) The magazine was browsed through thoroughly though... while boarding!

And also, I bought some chocolates for my HALLYU WAVE ADDICT friends, half a dozen boxes of kimchi and one kilo of boxed samgyetang from Lotte. I realized after walking out of Lotte, how "aggressive" (and I mean that in every way possible) the sales ladies there can get i.e. stuffing free samples of chocolates in your mouth every now and then, entertaining another customer and stuffing that customers mouth with free samples too while you're chewing, speaking to you in Japanese, then in Chinese, then in Korean and when you still don't budge like me, saying "Welcome to Korea! Would you like some chocolates?" It's so amazing it's almost funny!

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