Tag Archives: Seoul

Jet Lagged and Adjusting

28 Mar

It’s a quiet Monday morning in the heartland of the USA.  In the bleak early morning hours, it’s quiet and dark as life seems to be slowly slinking past the stillness of winter.  And I am… awake.  Or mostly awake as my days and nights are still quite mixed up.  After a few too many afternoon naps, indulging that irresistible call to mid-day jet lagged slumber… here I am when the world around me is just considering rising and I… have been awake for some time.

I arrived here yesterday to a snowy Easter morning after a week of respite and connection with friends in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was an easy stop via a direct flight on Korean Air direct from Chiang Mai to Seoul then Seoul to Atlanta.  I have spent this past week in that strange place of adjustment.  The undeniable feeling of familiarity being back in my home country mixed with the unmistakable shift that occurs with a year and half since my last visit to the States.  My world is a bit mixed up.  I am still altered by and present to the vibrant, crazy and colorful world of Chiang Mai.  Life on the left side of the road and my modest Thai speaking of “sawatdee ka’s” (hello)  and “kop kun ka’s” (thank you).  I’ve already surrendered most of my colorful Thai baht that had become a comfortable companion now replaced by American dollars which feel a bit… foreign… and sadly monochrome in my seasoned traveled hands.

But that said, I can’t deny a need and appreciation for the comforts of home.  That sinking feeling into the familiar that allows me to relax and rest just a little more deeply and easily than life internationally.  Such a life provides a fresh perspective and appreciative for the comforts of American life and my current respite in my family’s home.  The deep sink into the bountiful hot-tub with, yes, jet-action.  Grateful for the easy supply of organic groceries and food items, but admittedly still revelling in the sticker shock after a year of modest Thai income and mostly super-affordable cost of living.

I am returning once again as a familiar face, but undeniably impacted by my cumulative journey of the past five years… and more recently my 7 months in Vienna, Austria and subsequent year of teaching in Chiang Mai.  My body, mind and being are pleasantly shifted and expanded in ways that are most notable to me but perhaps less visible to the outside eye.

But here I am, altered and at home in the mid-west. I am still acutely aware of the daily and moment to moment echo of my most recent foreign adventure. My surprise at the grocery store when I speak English and am easily understood. My adjustment to getting into the passenger side on the right side of the car. And my general feeling of strangeness in the midst of “regular American life.” But also appreciating little things like loosening the grip on my passport now in the land where I am wholly and easily “allowed to be here.”

So here I am, feeling “newly arrived” and a little foreign myself back in the central USA.  I have a kaleidoscope of experiences that now make the world beyond the US a normal part of my considerations, view and landscape.

I am grateful for the allowance of some time for rest and adjustment. Reconnecting myself in the most basic ways with the people, land and world around me. I am of course considering and exploring what is next for me… beginning to reach out, connect and plant seeds and see what opens up and unfolds.

But for now I am awake, yet still sort of asleep in the groggy morning hours after a night of sleeplessness and strange productivity.  While the neighborhood and people around me just begin their day, I am jet lagged and adjusting back at home in the USA.

Featured image:  A slice of the vibrant artwork lining the pedestrian pathways of the Beltline in the heart of Atlanta.

Is It Summer Already?

9 Jun

It’s a Sunday morning here in Paju City, South Korea.  The weather is creeping into summer as the temperatures are tipping into the upper 80s.  That didn’t take long.  Yes, it is June, typically nearly summer weather in some parts of the world.  But it seems that winter just recently… ended.  I could swear it was just a few weeks ago that I confidently tucked away my winter coat for good and took an extra blanket off my bed.  It was not long ago that I finally unplugged and put away my room heater. And here we are greeted with summer weather.  I am told the heat and humidity here will give New Orleans, my former stomping grounds of 13 years, a run for its money.  We will see.  When I lived in New Orleans my last job was working at an outdoor farmers market.  During New Orleans summers the heat and humidity is like a wall.  At the market we would sit there with towels dipped in florida water, a cool refreshing cologne water, hung around our necks and try not to move while the sweat rolled down our foreheads.  Hopefully the summer in Paju is not that bad.

With summer weather comes summer wardrobe.  We have a pretty laid back dress code here at English Village and really we are quite lucky to have such a casual atmosphere.  We can wear shorts and tennis shoes and sandals that are at least a little dressy and have a back strap.  We cannot wear sleeveless shirts or tank tops which seems reasonable for work life.  I am still exploring what is appropriate summer dress in general in South Korea. Wearing tight tank tops that reveals shoulders and skin, a summer staple for me, may not be considered appropriate in regular public life.  I asked a fellow teacher about this and she suggested that some girls in the city wear tank tops but it’s still not all that common just yet.  You often see girls and women wearing a very light almost see through cropped cardigan over sleeveless dresses and shirts.  Still learning the nuances of culture.

It’s been a pretty light teaching week here at English Village, although myself and some other teachers are still busily preparing new lessons for the upcoming “semester”.  This week we have several different programs including a group of young Russian children here for two weeks.  I am not one of their “regular teachers” but did have the opportunity to teach them for one class last week.  They range in age from about 9 to about 13.  They are a great bunch of kids with spunky spirits.  But they can, as other teachers have noticed, push the boundaries.  They are fiestier than the Korean students we have in a way that is both inviting and challenging.  When I arrived in the building to teach them on Friday, four of them were downstairs making a train with rolling desk chairs pushing them around the room.  When I arrived in the classroom upstairs students were drawing pictures on the board during the break, some nice and some… not so nice.  It was quite a first impression.  We spent about an hour together playing a game and while the time did have some ups and downs, generally it went well.  I teach them a few more lessons on Monday and Tuesday.

We had an interesting staff experience on Friday afternoon…. Korean Village.  Yes, all of the English teachers at EV attended a class taught by a Korean teacher using Korean language only. The idea as you can imagine is to give us a sense of how some of our students may feel when in our classes taught only in English.  The question this rose for me was “Don’t our students have years of training in English when they come to us?”  That answer…some, yes, but as it turns out not all.  Undoubtedly we see a range of English-speaking skills here from practically fluent to barely any English at all.  But I had always assumed that their training had tucked away some English somewhere and perhaps they were just shy about speaking it or uninterested.  But apparently this may not be the case.  It seems that economic level does play a part in students English-speaking exposure and participation in quality English lessons outside of the “regular school day”.  Also I was told that some students in public schools take little interest in English and are allowed to slip through the cracks.  So its possible that we get students who really understand and speak almost no English.  This is new to me and certainly puts a slant on trying to teach English in English.

I spent my Saturday in Seoul.  I visited my chiropractor and am happy to report that after a fall in France a year ago, my ankle seems to be getting better.  I went to an area of Seoul called Hongdae, a lively neighborhood near Hongik University.  My favorite taco stand is there, Gusto Taco.  I grabbed two delicious fresh chicken tacos, complete with hand-made corn tortillas and soaked in a little of the international atmosphere.  There were customers from S. Korea and the US, a Spanish-speaking couple, an American owner, and French radio streamed over the internet. It was love.

While in Hongdae I also saught out one of the few thrift stores in Seoul and South Korea called The Beautiful Store.  As noted by other visitors and explorers of South Korea, Koreans aren’t really into buying used clothes.  And so the thift store scene is not too grand.  But The Beautiful Store, a local chain, has locations all over Seoul and their proceeds go to charity.  If it wasn’t for the help of a nearby friendly Korean-American, however, I would have never found the store.

I exited the subway, exit 8, and began to scan through my maps and information on my smart phone.  Seeing my lack of clarity with a friendly voice she introduced herself and asked if I needed any help.  Fortunately for me, she speaks Korean and is able to navigate her ways through the maze of symbols and words known as the Korean language.  With just a little misdirection, some guidance from her smart phone, and her knowledge of Korean we found the store just steps away from the train station.  The store sign is written in Korean so it wasn’t visible to my English reading eyes.

It was a tiny shop but a true thrift shop nonetheless.  My new companion for the moment joined me and we both found just a few clothing treasures for low prices.  If you are in South Korea and would like to go there yourself, here are basic directions:

  • Take the subway to Hongik University Station exit 8.  When you arrive at the top of the stairs, look to your right.  There is a building with a door at the corner of the street.  Enter that door and go downstairs.  The shop is on your right.

Today is a simple Sunday for me.  I intend to enjoy a little luxurious walking in the still fairly mellow summer heat, run a few errands, and do a little cooking for my upcoming work week.  I believe I have another lighter teaching schedule for the work week ahead, much needed after so many crazy weeks and more to come in the future.

Good-bye for now from the slowly becoming balmy land of Paju!

Photo at top a quiet evening at English Village at sunset.

Stop the Bus!

19 May

It’s a quiet rainy Sunday at English Village.  I am sneaking in a little time to write my blog before I head off to Seoul.  There is a district meeting today for my SGI Buddhist group.  Our meeting is at 1pm but I generally allow about two hours for the journey.  This includes waiting for bus 2200 traveling directly to Seoul, the 50 minutes bus-ride, then catching the subway and any miscellaneous walking involved.  I spent part of my morning today preparing a simple dish for the potluck lunch after the meeting.  It was a good reminder to me how grounding it is to spend a little simple time preparing food.  Cutting vegetables, adding seasonings, mixing ingredients and preparing it to share with others is a simple ceremony that feels like it honors my soul.

I am glad for the rainy weather this weekend.  It somehow gives me permission to have a quiet steady pace after the preceding hectic workweek.  This weekend has been a gentle rhythm of spending time on my own reading and tidying up a bit, traveling to Seoul for a chiropractor appointment and doing a little grocery shopping.  Then yesterday afternoon there was a staff barbecue at English Village.  And last night, I made some homemade tomato soup.  I have never done this before.  It was just wonderful and seemed to feed something in me deeply in need of nourishment and comfort.  Here is the recipe I used!

My second visit to the chiropractor continues the journey of healing my left ankle from my fall in France.  As he works on it, with his friendly and comical “bedside manner”  he gently scolds me as he points out the many different places and ways that my ankle is in need of adjusting.  I have also talked with him a bit about my persistent back and neck pain.  He has concluded that this problem is a hereditary thing and suggest that I sue my parents and we split it 70% for me 30% for me.  Then, he says, I can quit my job and sit at the beach and drink beer.

This past work week was a different rhythm from the sometimes frantic pace of teaching busloads of visiting middle school children.  I worked Monday – Wednesday with a group of college students here from Japan.   It was fun to connect with them and explore the distinctness of being Japanese, the different sounds of their language and names.  I was grateful for some of the simple benefits of teaching college students.  You don’t have to collect them or herd them like disgruntled cats to get them to class.  Generally in class they are well-behaved.  And you don’t have to worry that they might randomly run out of class or hit their friend if you don’t have your eye on them.  That said, upon returning to my regular middle school appointment on Thursday, I was genuinely happy to reconnect with the younger students.  Although challenging at times, it is fun for me to be around their lightness, sometimes shenanigans, and fun spirit.

The greatest challenge lately and this past week has been… how to teach English to students who speak very little if any English.  As I have mentioned before, English Village is a teach English in English organization.  Even the Korean teachers here are encouraged to teach only in English.  English Village even trains teachers how to teach English in English.  And as I continue to develop this skill and refine how to simplify a lesson or express something in its most simplest terms, sometimes I am at a loss of what to do.

Earlier this week I had a class of Japanese college students who spoke and understood only the simplest of English.  My class to teach them was Idioms.  An idiom, if you’ve forgotten, is a phrase commonly used that has its own distinct meaning that is often very different from what the words literally mean.  An example is ” a chip on your shoulder” or “high as a kite”.  Quite difficult to explain to students who don’t have a grasp on the basics of the English language.  But I went into the class with good intentions and did my best to explore it and simply.  After about five minutes as I looked out into a class of totally blank faces, I stopped and said “just one minute!”.  I snuck out of the classroom and quickly made my way to my supervisors down the hall.  I desperately told them my situation and we quickly decided to change the lesson to a word game using English called “Stop the Bus”.  In this game each team has to think of words for different categories beginning with whatever letter is offered for that round…. B, S, T.  When their team has written words for all categories they have to shout “Stop the Bus!”, hence the name. I returned to the class and smiled and announced that we will do a new lesson.  They smiled and laughed and then were fully engaged in the game.

This coming week I will work again with a special visiting group.  They are high school students from a language school.  It is likely that their English level will be high and their behavior a bit more mature as they are in high school.  I am looking forward to it and we will see how it goes!

I must depart now as the bus to Seoul is calling my name.  The bus driver is unforgiving if you are even a few seconds late and will not stop the bus…  Enjoy your weekend!  And of course, feel free to write and share what’s up in your world or even just say hello.  It’s always good to hear from you!

Photo at top, another view of the hills and land surrounding English Village.  Those stone pillars you see on the right… yes those are the giant replica of Stonehenge that greets you as enter English Village.

Spring Outing

10 Mar

I am hearing and seeing new things at English Village.  Birds are flying in v-shapes overhead.  There are more people wandering the streets on weekends.  I notice voices of other teachers outside in the evenings.  The birds are even starting to sing.  It seems the Christmas trees in front of our “City Hall” have even been taken down.  Plus the collection of snow on the English Village campus has shrunk to a minimum. Could it be… is it possible… that Spring is coming?

Talking about Spring in Paju, South Korea automatically strikes up conversation of local weather.  It seems that Paju is in some sort of bad weather vortex on the peninsula of South Korea.  It has long, particularly harsh Winters (we are colder and get more snow than our neighboring Seoul, just an hour away).  Hot, humid Summers (I am told, yes, for some reason Paju is hotter than Seoul too).  And then there is monsoon season.  I don’t know that much about it except for stories of water flooding through the hallways of buildings and being encouraged to buy rain boots. I hear that Spring and Fall here are fabulous… for as long as they last… which is rumored to be comparatively short to Summer and Winter.

As the freezing cold weather appears to finally be breaking away, I can feel myself and the world around me starting to come out of hibernation.  I am beginning to have a desire to do something other than bundle up and stay warm for dear life.

On that note, I took a little outing this week on one of my days off.  As I am working weekends this month, my “weekend” currently is on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  This past Wednesday was such a fresh day I actually felt inspired to go out, take a little walk and explore the area.   I learned recently that the outlet mall that I knew was “somewhere around here” is in fact in walking distance just a straight shot down the road.  So I took a little walk and made my way to the post-office first (so long Flat Stanley!) and then the neighboring “Paju Premium Outlet Mall”.

Now, my first observation is that “Paju Premium Outlet Mall” sounds suspiciously like “… Philadelphia Premium Outlets”.  Before coming to South Korea I stayed in Philadelphia for a few months acquiring my Korean work Visa and preparing for my trip.  How surprising it was to leave the States, travel to the other side of the world, arrive  in the foreign lands of Asia only to find… another Premium Outlet Mall.  Hmmm…  That said, I enjoyed my walk down the street, a beautiful day, and the splendor of just spending some time away from work and “off campus”.

Walking around in Paju is no easy feat – especially for this woman who lived in the flatlands of New Orleans for 13 years.  Paju is what you might call… hilly.  You cannot go any direction outside of English Village without surmounting at least one if not two hills.  This is not a complaint mind you.  But for me and my hamstrings it is… an adjustment.

I arrived at the outlet mall to find a seemingly endless array of shops and restaurants, piled up three stories high.  I ran into some colleagues from work in the food court and joined them for lunch.  Afterwards I continued to peruse the daunting supply of high-end shops including DKNY, Coach, Nike and Calvin Klein.  I bought myself a smoothie at Smoothie King (yes the Premium outlet mall comes complete with Smoothie King and Aunt Annie’s pretzels… sound familiar?).  Despite my periodic moments of deja vu, the outing was a treat and I was glad for the diversion.

I returned home the same way I arrived…on foot. The two hills I easily surmounted on the way there looked a bit more oppressive on the way back.  I considered taking the bus, but my pride got the best of me and I trudged my way back over the hills and made my way home.

I have enjoyed swimming lately as well.  We are lucky to have a gym here on the English Village (EV) campus that is open to the teachers and staff at EV as well as the community.  As I am now off on Wednesdays and Thursdays it gives me a little time to sneak in for a swim when it’s not as busy.  Usually Korean moms and kids start to arrive in the afternoon just about the time that I am leaving.  It’s funny to watch the little girls staring at me – in a friendly way.  I am usually the only foreigner in the locker room and I am sure quite a surprise and literally a “foreign” sight to the young Korean girls.

Our last quiet week of work has nearly come to an end as we will have students again this coming week. I am grateful for the promise of Spring arriving and all that brings.

I am wondering, has Spring sprung wherever you are in the world?  If so, what will you be doing as the lovely Spring days fold in?  Any suggestions for how to spend a spring day in South Korea?  It’s always great to hear from you!

Featured image at top from the second floor of the Paju Premium Outlet Mall.  Clearly a close cousin of the Premium Outlet Malls in the United States.

Being at Ease

2 Feb

It’s been a great Saturday for me.  Nothing too exciting.  It’s the weekend and I spent the day taking it easy.  Cleaning my apartment, sorting things, going to the grocery store.  I gave myself a Reiki treatment, did some yoga and put some black beans in the crock pot.  Tonight I will watch a movie.  I have to say it has been a great day!  Just what I needed.

I realized today as I was walking to the grocery store that I am starting to move out of  “survival phase” in my integration to life at the English Village in South Korea.  I have been here long enough that I am now fairly content that my basic needs will be met.  I have a kitchen full of foods that are healthy and satisfying.  I have a fluffy pillow and warm blankets.  I order regularly from iherb.com to get the healthy foods I want and need but can’t get in South Korea (delivery only a flat fee of $4.00!).  I have some basic spices and seasonings in my cupboard and with the assistance of my lovely crock pot I am able to cook some yummy meals for myself.

I can also get myself to Seoul without too much distress and make my way around a bit on the subway.  I have overcome some simple, but necessary challenges of traveling by myself to and from Seoul… like making sure I exit the subway at the exit number where the bus stop for the bus home is located (this is very important!  A few times I exited at random exit numbers and emerged on the streets of Seoul and had no idea where I was, let alone where my bus was!) And I am now confident that I know my bus stop well enough that I won’t accidentally miss it or pass it by, even at night.  It’s the little things!  So I am starting to feel a more… relaxed… and at home.

I am very grateful for my connection to the SGI Buddhist group in Seoul!  They have been a wonderful respite and a place to connect and meet new people when I want on the weekends.  This weekend on Sunday I will be traveling to Seoul to join them for their monthly world peace chanting.  Afterwards I will join a few members to go grab a bite to eat.  Really nice.

It’s a quiet winter day here on the English Village campus.  The snow has mostly melted and today this sun is shining.  While it is warmer, there is still a descent bite of cold in the air.  Our busy month of January programming and teaching is complete.  We have had a few days of light teaching this week and I am told a light week to come before our upcoming 5 day holiday (It is the Korean New Year).

As you may know, I am in Paju, south Korea which is a small community of about 250,000 just an hour north of Seoul.  The surrounding area is pretty spacious… much wide open land with little clusters of business – stores, restaurants and other things I can’t tell what they are since I don’t read Korean.  I am told this area is agricultural  and has a Korean military base not far away.  Paju Premium Outlet mall is just a short bus ride away (shockingly similar name to the outlet chains in the United States) with American movies and some familiar brand names and shops.  We’ve had a few days of weather here where it’s not so cold that I am huddled into my own being like a turtle seeking its shell. I am actually starting to look around and notice my surroundings a bit more.

Picture 002

A quick look at the area surrounding the English Village in Paju, South Korea, the land still barren in the dead of winter.

The English Village campus is somewhat remote.  While we are located in the city of Paju, we are surrounded by much land and are a 5 or ten minute walk from the grocery store and a fifteen or twenty-minute walk to nearby restaurants, post office and other commerce.

We have pretty easy access to “getting around” with the bus stop just outside the English Village grounds and a bus that goes directly to Seoul.  There are other buses that take you to nearby shopping areas and cities and with the assistance of our friendly security staff, we can easily catch a cab when needed.

I was at a clothing swap earlier this week.  A staff member is leaving and she hosted a swap as an opportunity for her to give away clothes and other items that she won’t be taking with her when she leaves Korea.  When we were chatting she mentioned that living at English Village is like “Korea light”… which is true.  Nestled in the comfort of our English-speaking environment, we get to experience many of the comforts and ease of home.

That said, we don’t have to go far to be immediately immersed in the world and culture of  South Korea – just beyond the Hollywood-like sign of the English Village.  For me, I find it’s a nice balance… as I continue to ease my way into life and work in South Korea.

Back to the Basics in South Korea

16 Dec

I am writing from the teacher’s work area of my new “home” in South Korea.  If you’ve been following my journey you know that I have now landed at an “English Village” created by the Korean government as a place for Korean children, adults and families to visit and have a hands on learning experience in speaking English.  I have been here since Thursday evening.  So far, so good.

After some delay en route to Korea, my twelve-hour sojourn over the Pacific Ocean went fairly smoothly.  I received a seat upgrade as compensation for my delayed flight and enjoyed some extra leg room and a non-packed flight as I made my way to South Korea.  Me (and my luggage!) happily landed around 5pm South Korea time.  After going through immigration and baggage claim, I was grateful to see my name written on a sign in the hands of a Korean taxi driver.

Admittedly a little nervous at arriving in a new country, I appreciated the gentle but firm squeeze the Taxi driver gave my hand as a silent welcome to Korea.  He loaded me up in his taxi and we were speedily on our way.  After driving about an hour away from Seoul, I arrived at the Gyeonggi English Village (GEV) in Paju City, South Korea.

I was quickly greeted by a staff member and led to my new room.  After a few delays (the heater wasn’t working in my assigned room and I had to relocate down the hall) I began to settle into my new “home”. One of the “perks” of my new job is that all staff are provided with their own apartment.  Granted for entry-level teachers like me, it is quite a small apartment, lovingly referred to as “the matchbox” and less loving names, but after a year and a half of traveling and communal living it is nice for me to have a bit of my own space.

The biggest adjustment so far, which is not so much cultural as geographical, is the cold weather.  Brrrr!  I am grateful for my long down coat to help keep me warm.  After my first day of freezing weather, rain, and ice-lined streets it was a relief to travel to the local store to purchase an electric heater and a pair of boots.  Both wise investments.

I have found the people and the staff at GEV to be kind and welcoming.  With a culture where most teachers are here for a one year contract it seems that hardly anyone has forgotten what it was like to be a newcomer here.  While I have met teachers who have been here for four or five years, many of the teachers are here for a one year contract and after 6 months seem like a seasoned teacher here.

Many of the administrative staff are Korean and of course the general student population is Korean as well.  The GEV is created as a place where 7th and 8th grade students come and live for a week of intensive and fun experiences in the English language.  There are other programs as well that I am slowly coming to know including weekend workshops, one day workshops as well as a month-long stay and other special programs.

Tomorrow will begin my first full week of work.  I will be working Monday through Friday from 9am – 6pm.  My first week I shadow other teachers and just watch, listen and learn.  The second week I am a co-teacher but still in learning mode.  And after that I believe I am still a co-teacher for a few more weeks before I am let loose to teach on my own.  I am glad for the adjustment phase easing into the experience of being a teacher here.  Generally I find folks are pretty pleased with working here and while they note frustrations or shortcomings, it seems generally staff think this is a good place to be.

And so it is 6:00 pm my time and I am finding that sleep is already wanting to pull me under.  My body clock has not yet adjusted to being on Seoul and my sleep is not yet on a regular pattern.  I have spent most of my time so far tending to the basics… learning where to buy food and beginning to stock my kitchen and talking to other teachers and learning the road and the ways of how to take care of my basic needs while I am here.

When shopping I have found that many of the fruits, meats and vegetables are not recognizable to me.  And nearly everything is written in Korean.  I have found a few Korean people who speak English when out shopping, but I am told that many Koreans are shy about speaking English.

But all in all, the learning curve is going well.  I feel generally good and at ease here and am allowing myself to get my feet wet one step at a time, one day at a time.

My Indiegogo campaign “Gypsy Woman goes to South Korea” continues through December 24, 2012.  Funds raised will help support me during this time of transition – the gap between now and when I receive my first paycheck at the GEV.  Any contribution is greatly appreciated!  You can view my campaign at www.indiegogo.com/southkorea.

Thanks to everyone for their support so far!  I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to write and say hello!

Photo above is a quick snapshot of  the “City Hall” building in my new home, a mock English Village nestled in the lands of South Korea about an hour outside of Seoul.

A funny thing happened on the way to Korea….

12 Dec

Greetings from the “midpoint” of my journey to South Korea!  After spending a few days with my family in the mid-west, I left in the wee hours this morning for Korea. With over 19 hours total travel time, I knew I was in for a big day!

My mom, who is always there for me, got up this morning at 3:30am and made me scrambled eggs for my trip.  By 4am we were out the door and on the one-hour trek to the local airport.  We arrived with great ease and found our way to the gate.  There was a small delay entering through security as an alarm was going off.  The security guard, with his laid back mid-western fashion, joked, “maybe it means that the bacon is ready!” Eventually, it stopped and we were allowed to proceed.

All seemed well as I waited to depart for my 6:10 am flight traveling to Denver then connecting to San Fransisco and then the long flight to Seoul Korea.  It was about a half hour before my flight was to leave when the “on time” status came off the flight board.  There would be a delay.  There was a plane maintenance issue and we would have to wait for a new airplane.

Eventually we loaded onto a new airplane and in one hour and 40 minutes we were landing in Denver.  My flight and several other passengers’ connections were very tight and so they allowed us to deplane before the others.  Moving as quickly as I could down the long corridor to my next flight I arrived at my gate only to find it abandoned and desolate.  No sign of life anywhere.  It appeared they departed… and quickly leaving no sign that they were ever there.

I was rerouted to a later flight to San Fransisco and also changed to a different airline for my flight to Korea as I would miss my connection in San Francisco.  That’s okay, I thought.  Doing my best to “go with the flow” while also doing my best to keep track of my checked-in luggage looking out for  it in a manner somewhere between a pit bull and a protective mother.

Then arrival in San Francisco.  Next?  Head to the ticketing agent of my new airline to get a boarding pass.  It turned out that their flight was full and there was no room for me… or the Korean man also rerouted making his way to Seoul via St. Louis, Missouri.  We were directed back to the ticket counter of our original airline, United Airlines.

There we met a very friendly staff member willing to take his time to help us and go out of his way to make sure that all was well.  His first suggestion?  Rerouting our flight through Shanghai arriving in Korea around midnight on Wednesday Korean time.  Hmmm… I don’t think that is my flight!  “What about tomorrow?”  I asked… can’t we just stay the night and take the same flight out tomorrow?  He was quickly agreeable offering ways to cover additional expenses… giving us complimentary meals tickets for lunch dinner and breakfast tomorrow.  And while he couldn’t pay for the hotel upfront, he hooked us up with a discounted hotel rate with promises of getting reimbursed by the airline.  So I took it!

And here I sit… quite content… at a pink Spanish style chain hotel just a stone’s throw from the San Fransisco airport.  I have Internet, a big cumfy bed.  In truth I am grateful for an afternoon break and a good night’s sleep before my 12 hour flight to South Korea!

So here I am!  I am on my way… and content to be delayed until… my late morning flight tomorrow.  Tonight is sure to include a relaxing evening in the comfort of a quiet hotel room, a good night sleep… and tomorrow…once again…on my way to South Korea!

My Indiegogo campaign, “Gypsy Woman Goes to South Korea, ” is still going strong.  I invite you to visit the campaign and watch a brief video about my journey at www.indiegogo.com/southkorea.  And while you’re there, if you’re inspired to make a donation, that would make a world of difference to this Gypsy Woman! Thanks for stopping by!

And as always feel free to write and connect.  I’d love to hear from you!


Don’t be fooled by the photo above.  It’s not the Golden Gate Bridge!  Alas, it is the view from the San Fransisco Airport while waiting for my hotel courtesy van pick-up!

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