Thursday, March 19, 2015

Goodbye Korea . . . Hello Canada . . . Finally home!

This is it.
March 4, 2015.
Incheon International Airport.
All loose ends are tied.
All debts paid.
All belongings packed.
All goodbyes said.
This is really it.
Goodbye Korea, I now have to go back to my family. I need to go home. Thanks for the experience, the pay, and all the good times--for they are many.
The 1st leg of my journey began here, enroute to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
9+ hours later, I arrive at Vancouver International Airport around 10:30 on the same day.
Talk about time travel!

Totem pole near the check-in counters.

This reminded me of Arizona and New Mexico.
Just a random feeling.
Well, since I've got a 12+ hr. layover, I best be getting out there and exploring Vancouver, don't you think?

Inside the metro that's connected to the airport.
Just behind me.
I had an appointment in Vancouver this day, believe it or not. My former-student from Jeju SDA Language Institute is now living in Vancouver. His girlfriend is training to become a beautician. On that day, she was going to need a model ("human canvas" if you will) to practice applying make-up in real time. What the heck, why not? After my flight across the Pacific, I guess it was a pretty good idea.
Anyway, I went out into Vancouver downtown, with a map and address. I find the salon, but I've got plenty of time to kill before the appointed time. So I entered a bookstore (forgot the name, sorry), and on the 2nd floor, I saw something I never expected I'd ever see . . .

"American Girl" dolls!
If you don't know, these are dolls I've seen through the Pleasant Company (i.e. "American Girl") catalogue and dreamed of owning one for YEARS. All this started with the 1st catalogue I saw when I was about 8 years old. I bought the books, even the paper dolls. I really loved them--especially those from their historical collections (like here). But, they are VERY expensive, so I had to be content with the paper dolls and my daydreams.
That's ok.
The only problem was that this was too big of a shock for me to take jet-lagged and as an insomniac. The nostalgia I felt was a little too overwhelming. Looking through their website now, I see they've changed and taken out some of my favorite historical characters.
Oh well, the only constant is change.

This made me smile.

That's a Korean bank!
I thought I left you back in your country!!
This was on the same street as the salon I had to go to.

My 1st meal in Canada.
Quite American, wouldn't you say?
It was a little more than I could handle too. Thank you, counter-culture shock.

Hello, Terry Fox.

Terry Fox's story and about his statue.
Seriously, this man was an inspiration.
The time for my appointment had arrived. I was already there, but there was one problem: I had no idea how the girl looked like. All I had was her English name and the fact that she's Taiwanese. I called her boyfriend--my former-student--and we finally met . . . by accident . . . at the Starbucks just across the street . . . when I saw her trying to look for someone and I guessed it was me. Thank GOD for HIS insightful help!
After the make-up application was complete.
I should've taken a "before" pic. Whoops.

Here's the girl who did the magic.
She wanted to stick with a natural look.
What do you think?
So her boyfriend showed up and the 3 of us went out for a walk around that area of the city. I had my camera out in case of anything that caught my eye.

That was me in Korea.

A clock, but not just any clock . . .

(thanks for the picture, Tommy!)

A steam clock!
We stayed to watch it go off (only waited for 5 minutes). It made an interesting tune: the same one that goes off every time a period begins and ends at my schools in Korea! And then it let off a bit of steam, the same amount as that of the new hour.
Nice, walking along . . .

Oh, ok.


Right between the cauldron and the convention center building (west wing).
I like the Lego-esque killer whale.

Under the cauldron.

Wow . . .

I've seen these kinds of planes, just not "parked"/"docked" like this. Cool!

Leaning elevated hut.

This picture isn't doing much justice, I fear.
So we had dinner together at a Greek/Italian restaurant. I really wasn't hungry, but I had a spinach salad and introduced them to baklava (it wasn't that great there, I'm sorry to say).
Time is drawing to a close, and they were kind and generous enough to accompany me back to the airport. I thought they looked so cute together, I had to take a picture:

hmm, not what I had in mind, but I guess that'll have to do.
You two were sooo sweet, thank you! You two made me enjoy Vancouver all the more; I must go back!
So, off to my gate, find my seat, and faint from fatigue. When I wake up, I'll arrive in Montreal.

Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (part of it, at least)
I arrived around 8am. My final flight to Orlando was going to leave a little after 5pm. I wanted to get out, but I couldn't explore Montreal with all of my luggage (which was NOT checked through all the way to Orlando. I had to claim them both in Vancouver AND Montreal. Go figure). After some searching, I found the coatroom, where I could have them watch over my stuff for me--and I could go out and explore! Only thing is that I was told to allow for plenty of time to get back, because traffic was very unpredictable--I was told.
Fine, just let me get out and explore!

The bus that will take me into town--and the one I must take back to the airport.

How the fare works.
I'm so glad I know Spanish and that it can help me with French.
I made it to the last stop (I didn't know how they worked, since I didn't see any signs with names outside, nor were the names announced inside the bus), which ended up being a bus terminal as well as a major metro station. It was a little empty (i.e. creepy, sketchy) inside, but I just kept on walking and eventually got there. It took me a while to figure out how this metro system worked (signage-wise), but once I got it, it was pretty simple.

Booklets with info on the different buses and their routes.

Ok, to know which line you want, look for the color. To know in which direction it's going, the signs will have the name of the last stop. Just look at a metro map, look at the signs, and you'll get it.
I figured, since I was in Montreal and I had about 3 hours to explore before going back (just to be safe), I thought I'd go to the only place I know that's in Montreal: McGill University.

About 3 blocks from McGill Station, on my way to the university.
I like this architecture.

Entrance to McGill University.

Whoa, that's a huge campus.

Let me go to my happy place that's in every university: the library.



Ooooooo, a water fountain after my own heart!

Did I mention it was -13 Celsius/8 Fahrenheit that day? Windy?
As I told a friend of mine: When I walked out of the airport, it was as though a brick wall of cold slammed against my body and took my breath away--and I saw it go away, too.
It was that cold. Brrrrr.

This is where I entered the university campus (officially, I guess).
Ok, I visited McGill, now I wanted to try something very Quebec-ish: Poutine.

Back to A&W, I got my 1st taste of Poutine (French fries, thin brown gravy, and cheese curds).
Not bad, but I think I need to try again somewhere else. That, or my taste buds were still too Koreanized.
Ok, it's time for me to try to make my way back. After a while, I got the bus back to the airport, picked up my luggage and checked them in one last time, went through security and immigration, and then arrived at my gate--with 2-3 hours to kill. At least I was already through. I walked around, feeling like a zombie (the time difference, travel, and fatigue were really hitting me hard by then), and I found a quite area where I could take a nap--and nap I did!
Hmm, about 20 minutes until boarding time, I should get back. Let's see the departure screens . . . Whoa . . .

This winter was seriously no joke!
I'm so glad I got the ticket to Orlando!
I board, get to my seat, and am knocked out. I wake up in time to feel the plane touch down on Orlando International Airport. Went and claimed my bags, and my parents found me a few minutes later. We go to the car and drive the 2+ hrs. to get home.
So here I was, home, after a 45 hr. (+/-) journey from Korea to home . . . I've basically been awake and traveling for 3 days, from comfortable temperatures, to bitterly cold wind, to a warm and humid climate. I needed a shower DESPERATELY!!! Man, that shower was sooooo good!
So, by the time I was ready to go to bed, it was about 2am. After my journey, I guess it's not so surprising that I woke up at 3:30pm! Seriously! My first night home, I slept almost 14 hours! Who knew?
... and this is the end of my journey.
Sometime later, I promise to post an update of how I'm doing and what is next. But for now, I need to relax and focus on my family. I promise, I'll fill you in later.


  1. Ah Vancouver, I miss it so much, such a charming city. The area that has the steam clock is aptly called GasTown. The metro is called the SkyTrain because it's mostly on an elevated rail and not underground.
    The float planes in Coal Harbour (in the pic) are really cool. You can ride one of those planes from Coal Harbour to Victoria's Inner Harbour (my city) in about 20 minutes. The plane ride is quite breathtaking, but not recommended for tall people because the seats are quite CRAMPED!

    Love your Montreal photos too. The first picture with the big old building at McGill used to be the music building where I studied music. I don't miss those giant deadly icicles hanging from buildings, or shuffling through the ice to get to school everyday. McGill is such a cool school, nestled right in the middle of downtown Montreal (they call that area the student 'ghetto'), the contrast of old Victorian age buildings with giant office towers is really cool.

    The A&W poutine is NOT real poutine; please don't form your opinion on poutine based on it, because it's not the real deal!

    1. Thank you for your comment! I can see why you (or anyone) would miss it. I definitely want to go back sometime, the question is when . . .

      I wish I had more time in Montreal. I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by French for a change, even though I don't know it very well. Whatever I can get, I owe to Spanish. Well, now I had a taste, and it whet my appetite for more! I also really want to visit Quebec City, although I hear I must know French for that one.

      Hahahaha! I figured such. Where should I go for real, authentic Poutine? Someone told me once, but I forgot. Stupid me . . .