Friday, June 30, 2017

My flight back to Korea (28. June '17)

"Hmmm, how much of this can I share right now?" I think as I'm sitting on a couch in my hotel room in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea.

I guess I can start with my journey here.

My flight itinerary back was the following:
Jacksonville, Florida --> JFK, NYC --> Taipei, Taiwan --> Busan, South Korea.
Total travel time (with layovers--and delays): about 30 hours.

First leg of the trip
I get to Jacksonville with plenty of time. The flight was supposed to leave @ 17:07 and arrive at JFK @ 19:30. There was a severe thunderstorm with lightning a little too close for comfort. The plane needed refueling, but with the proximity of the lightning, they needed to wait for the storm to pass. We were all boarded and in our seats for over an hour when we were told to gather our stuff and get off the plane (get some walking in, go to the restroom, be a little more comfortable). That was when they refueled the plane. About 30-40 minutes after disembarking from the plane, we all boarded it again. By the time the plane left, it was 19:30--the time we were supposed to land in JFK.
Don't need to worry about messing up the sink!

Curving skylights

Somewhere over Florida or Georgia

Second leg of the trip
We landed in JFK, and I had to figure out how to get to my connecting flight. Sure, my flight was late. It was about 21:00 by this time, but my flight to Taipei left at 1:35, so I had over 4 hours (still) to kill. A friend who was familiar with that airport told me to not bother going out to explore NYC since this airport was too far from just about everything. Since I had less time to kill, I thought it doubly wise to heed his warning. Eventually, I found out I did not have as much time to waste as I had initially thought. I had to check-in again (through China Airlines--very helpful!) and go through security again. This was not very pleasant, considering several transoceanic flights were leaving at the same time. Not fun.
By the time I was near my gate, I had about an hour and a half until boarding time (which was 40 minutes before the scheduled flight time). I found the one other place besides McDonald's that was open and selling food, and used their services gladly--even though the price was beyond what I would've normally paid anywhere else. I sat in a quiet area with several armchairs, made myself comfortable, ate, and communicated with family and a few friends. 
At the appointed time, I was waiting in line at the gate. We all boarded and the plane left. Fifteen hours of flight, 6-8 hours of sleep (praise GOD!), two movies, and an overall pleasant experience later, the plane landed at Taipei around 5 am Wednesday morning (Taipei time).
Greeted by a line of orchids. See the time?

My gate to my plane to Busan.

Hmmm, which bike would you like?

Nice, if only there were more than 3 such chairs ...

Third and final leg of the trip
I can't say how nice it was walking through an empty yet sparkling clean airport while being fully awake at 5 am. I went through security one more time. This time, it was a breeze. I was the only passenger there! Hence, I was able to get in and out quickly, without worrying about anyone trying to steal my stuff (bliss). I made it to my gate, but I still had an hour before boarding. Then one of my close friends called, and we talked for about 40 minutes, catching up. I was going to see if I could get something to eat, only to remember I didn't have any local currency (luckily, before I found an eatery). So I went to the waiting area at my gate and waited until boarding time. We boarded, got settled, and took off. I was so thankful when they served us meals because I was famished! I didn't know what it was or what it had, but I ate it heartily. I hadn't eaten for 7 hours or so by then.
We arrived at Busan without any problems. Then, I realized I needed to fill out some arrival documents--which I did not receive on the flight. So, off to find them and fill them out. All in all, I got that settled and my bags were easy to find since everyone else had already claimed theirs. I walked out and met my recruiter (again). He is Alistair Wery of Korean Horizons (I've already posted a review about him and his services here).
He took me to NS/Namsun hotel where he reserved a room for each of his recruits. I approve! The room is nice and clean. There are 2 bottles of water and 2 cans of either juice or coffee (FOR FREE!) in the mini fridge. There is a whole set of toiletries you can use (FOR FREE!). The hotel even has complimentary (Korean style) breakfast that made me so happy to be reunited with Korean food again.

Today, I will check out of NS Hotel/Namsun Hotel, meet my co-teacher and other staff members, and move into my new apartment.

From my window. See the full rainbow on the bottom left?

So far, so good.

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