The Arrival

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
-Lao Tzu

As I walked passed the ticket counter onto the plane I new that those small steps were steps towards a great adventure. I sat next to a nice man who was in Texas on business. He was from Chicago and liked my joke about how, the city we were leaving, smelled like cow. His brother-in-law was also a world traveler. He was excited to tell me stories that he had heard from him about living over seas and adjusting to the “unusual” culture.

Once in Houston we went our separate. ways but both moving closer and closer to our destination. Taking more steps.

I was not looking forward to the 13 hour plane ride to Japan. I was in the middle seat in-between two Japanese men.  We did not say much. All of us slept on and off. I watched four movies that I had been really wanting to see. (Loved Jack and the Giant Slayer). We got to Japan. When we landed there was Japanese press waiting at our gate. I never found out why there were there because I had to be sure I would make it through security before my flight started to board.

Waiting at my gate, tired and rather hot (everyone in Asia seems to be trying to save electricity…smart idea really) I met several military people. I still do not know why they all came up and talked to me (maybe they thought I was military?!?). However they were all nice though I see why Korean people may not like them.

Taking off was again one step towards a bigger journey. Everyone was very helpful and nice on this flight. Really EVERYONE. People left and right were helping each other find their seats and put their luggage in the overheads. I sat in front of a man who helped me put my luggage away who was going to Korea to help train with military equipment. He ended up being the man who I followed through baggage and all when we landed. He had never been to Korea before and didnt even have an address or and idea of where he was going…So I was much better off which eased my worries.

Once we landed in Korea we were ushered towards the train that would take us to customs. We all were lined up and waiting. The historian in my came out when I began wondering how this may have resembled the holocaust and the camp trains. I know I know it was an awful comparative at that moment but it is what came in my head. After the packed train ride we all found our lines to get our passports stamped. This was a nervous moment for me because I had not visa and I wasn’t sure if they would ask me any questions. I received no questions and only had to get figure printed (with technology it wasn’t as serious as it sounds) and photographed. (Now that I think about it those things may be used by the police if I cause trouble). Then I got my stamp!

“Oh luggage, Oh luggage”….I was so surprised to see my luggage I almost did a dance. Except….I had a strange yellow lock on one of my suitcases. When I went through customs the Korean guard pointed and said “go to 77.” I said with probably big pitiful eyes “okay.” Once at 77 I was asked to open my bag. The guard there asked me if I had a knife I said now. He began looking through my luggage. I pointed to my magnet I had and he said “oh yeah that was it. You have nothing special here you can go.”
And I stepped into Korea,

One small step for mankind, one giant leap for…me.


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