Friday, January 04, 2008

Korea Travelogue Day 1: That 4-Hour Ride

Needless to say, I’m excited on this trip. Back at home, I’m already in my heater underneath a thick cobalt blue top, skinny jeans tucked inside my camel boots with my matching colored coat hung somewhere in my arms. (Hey, I just wanted to save space in my suitcase!) So by the time I was lined up for check-in, I was practically sweating. Dammit! Miffing me up is this airport guy who keeps on asking for my number while on queue. Duh? Anyways, I don’t think I’m that overdressed. I observed the line infront of me and it is filled with a whole phalanx of soberly suited Korean men (probably corporate honchos) whose luggages consisted of a small-sized suitcase and bulky golf paraphernalia that’s more than enough to crowd up the very narrow space of the econo line. Whew!

On that long queue to immigration, I fell out of line for a short while to get that liquid container for my lip gloss and mini Gucci perfume. There’s no way I’m not re-touching after landing ‘coz I’m meeting Lawrence at Incheon airport. Yihee!!! He called me up on the way to the airport and asked about my flight details. He’s arrived a day earlier and the poor navigator that I am made him promise that we’ll go together to the province of Gumi (where the Samsung factory is and obviously where the training would be). My thoughts were suddenly filled with that 4-hr ride conversation. Maybe we’ll talk about some sweet little something something when someone's voice broke my reverie.


I swiveled my head to where the voice is coming from and there’s a sales manager from the office having the same flight as mine. A company in the flight, that would be great! :)

While we’re waiting aboard, we can’t help but notice how exaggeratedly we took the advises from colleagues in the office. “Exag!” was all she could say. Hello? We’re seeing teenagers in mini skirts boarding the plane. But then again, they could change outfits in the airport. Right?

When the plane landed, I felt a sliver of breeze coming in (i'm saying this from the last row of the seats - hmmp!), maybe the door was already opened. Oooooh, I’m excited to wear my coat na! ;) I turned on my phone and received a message from Lawrence. “Where r u?” Uh-oh! The plane may have left late but I miscalculated the 1-hr diff between Phils and Korea. He was already waiting for 2 hours. Gosh!

As I hurry out, I can’t help but notice how wide and classy Incheon is. Having been to two airports of the same kind made me feel quite ashamed of our NAIA. We headed to the money exchanger so we could buy tickets for our separate buses. I asked Lawrence to go inside and come to the ticket booth. It costs KRW 26,000 and honestly, I had a hard time coming up with such value from the paper bills I have.

“Ate, masanay ka na. Dito para kang milyonarya sa hawak mong pera.”

I chuckled. I inspected my bills and sure enough, the lowest I got is 1000 KRW. She helped me come out with the amount. Shortly, Lawrence arrived and I can’t help but look sheepishly sorry for making him wait. I was so apologetic that I forgot to introduce him to the sales manager. Actually, it’s more of I’m not sure I remembered her name correctly. :P We parted with a beso and Lawrence and I made our way out of the 14C exit.

“Ooooooooooh my goooooooood! It’s cooooooooooooold!”

“What? It’s actually quite nice!” Lawrence seems to be enjoying the weather. He’s just wearing a short-sleeved polo underneath his jacket. I see smoke coming out from his mouth whenever he speaks and Huuuuu, there’s one on mine too! ;-) Coool!!! (Sensya na, 1st time eh, hehehe) I observed the street and saw some fashionable Korean girls wearing mini skirts and stockings on the street.

“Goodness! How can they take the weather in those dresses?” I said as we headed inside a heated waiting station near 10C of the airport. Lawrence, a fashion enthusiast, went on explaining how he’s seen a lot of those for the last day that he’s been walking around Seoul even on the flea market he’s been to. He said he wanted to buy one for his girlfriend. Word alert: GIRLFRIEND. I was like “Oooooookkkkkkaaaaay!” to myself. Good thing I’m reminded this early of my place. =P I texted "Ang laaaaamig" to my friend Lisa - my irrational method of coping. =P
When the bus arrived and we were finally ensconced in our seats, i just found my head pressed against the windowpane. I was transfixed with my surroundings. I know the scene just looks normal and prosaic, but still I soak it all in. Shortly, I faced Lawrence and went on to ask about Dien to him. Dien is the Vietnam guy we met during the training in Singapore. Actually, the training organizer for SE Asia advised us to go the 3 of us together from airport to Gumi. But my bad, I didn’t contact him. Haha! He’s the one I went swimming with on my last day in SG. And I learned that Lawrence didn’t get in touch with him also. Maybe we both thought he can manage alone. Hehe! Or maybe he thinks the ride would be better with only me as company. Stop it, KC! After that I turned silent ‘coz I’m sensing if Lawrence wants to sleep for the entire ride but surprisingly he went barreling on with his adventures. I'm barely making out of his words coz I’m still adjusting to his accent. Not that he’s poor or something. Truth is, for an average Chinese, Lawrence is a very good English speaker. He then opened his laptop and showed the photos he took around. Well actually for an average man, Lawrence speaks aaaaa lllloooooooooot!! I found myself cuddling, no, make it leaning my head closer to him so he can speak softly as the rest of the passengers are already dozing off. For some time I thought about Guy #2 in The Encounter and wondered WHY can’t he be like him. Because he’s a bigoted Atenista, idiot! Oh well yeah he is and I’ve got to stop thinking about it.

We halted to a stopover at Chungcheongbuk-do after 2 hours I think and I got to observe the prices of the commodities inside. An ordinary hotdog on stick costs KRW 5,000. That’s 5 USD for you baby! Pretty expensive, huh? I didn't buy also because it was hard to communicate with the vendors, they don’t speak English.

I preferred to eat my cupcakes back in the bus as Lawrence to my wonder continues on with his stories. It all started with this gay and lesbian Friendster accounts he discovered in the Phils and that’s when I noticed that the topic has taken on a different slant. He’s pretty much liberated when it comes to those things which came to me as a surprise. Much to my chagrin, he started opening up on some problems with his lovelife. I won’t share the sordid details here (not that there are any) but for me, he’s practicing infidelity to his gf. Tsk! Tsk! Mga lalake talaga! And for some time, I thought "Is he like tutoyer-ing with me?" Gosh! I flashed back to our IM conversations prior this trip. I just entrusted my life to him during the drinking sessions. He said he’s gonna act like a father and said that he will protect me. I reassured myself with his words. Come on, this is Lawrence we’re talking about. He’s not gonna be involved in anything untoward. I trust him, completely and utterly.

When we finally reached Gumi, I went to a public toilet and noticed 2 fashionable Korean ladies waltzing out. Wow! This is a province and yet the females are so fashion forward already? How much more in the city? I went inside a cubicle and got out immediately afterwards. Ok, so the bowl is something like embedded on the floor and you have to squat in order to pee. No way, thanks all the same! Hello, UTI! We walked to a gas station to get a taxi and it was soooo cold we have to get inside one ASAP!

I couldn’t imagine how I would survive without Lawrence. We had a hard time getting a cab coz they couldn’t understand us. When finally we had one, Lawrence inside continued on talking to the driver via speech with sign languages on our purpose for going to Korea while I made a short phone call to my mom. He didn’t really have to say much actually, the word Samsung explained it all! Not more than 10 minutes later, around 1020 PM we’re already checked in and agreed to meet tomorrow at 8 for breakfast. In my room, I decided to watch Korean TV -while I unearthed my suitcase for tomorrow’s outfit- in the hope of catching some familiar actors and actresses before proceeding with my night regimen and slept. Goodnight Korea!! =)


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