Monday, 7 June 2010

Day 1 - Journey to the East

We finally managed to get our bags packed and our flat clean and tidy (can't wait to get that deposit back!) and so we waved goodbye to Brixton. We had booked a taxi to the airport because we were feeling lazy and didn't fancy trying to tackle the London Underground at rush hour with all our bags and suitcases whilst wearing all our heaviest clothes especially as it was actually quite a nice, hot day in London for a change. The taxi was definitely a good idea.

We had an 11 hour flight from Heathrow to Seoul leaving at 7.50pm and landing at 2.30pm Korean time. I was feeling pretty apprehensive as I have never flown that far before but it was an easy enough journey. Didn't get much sleep though as the guy sat next to us on the plane went to sleep as soon as we took off so we had to creep around him but once we wanted to go to sleep he decided to wake up, put the overhead light on and start writing postcards until about 4am! Nice one! On the bright side though we got to try bibimbap , a Korean dish of rice, fried vegetables, meat and chilli paste which I thought was pretty tasty though I don't think Rowan was very keen on it.

The best thing about the flight though was the skymap which was an interactive map that you could look bring up on the small TV screen in the back of the seat in front of you. The skymap showed you where the plane was and a load of other stats such as the altitude, speed and how many miles there were left to go to the destination - very cool! We also saw what we assumed must be the Gobi Dessert from the plane window which was exciting and there was a call on the plane pa system asking if there was anyone on the plane who had medical training which was kind of alarming - I thought that only happened in films!

We were met at the airport by our friendly Korean taxi driver who managed to scare us out of our minds on the journey from Incheon Airport to Gwangju where we would be living and working. We really didn't think we were going to survive that journey, it was terrifying. There were no seatbelts in the back only for the driver though he chose not to wear his for most of the journey. Despite this he still drove at over 150km p/hr often one-handed or no-handed whilst also on the phone or watching the small TV he had on the dashboard that most Korean cabbies seem to have just in case watching the road gets too boring. We were told that this was a common experience and Koreans called them 'bullet taxis' - presumably because taking one is as dangerous as taking a bullet perhaps?

Miraculously, we made it in one piece to Gwangju and were dropped off at the school that I would be teaching at where we met one of my co-teachers who took us to our apartment. By this point we were really tired and in serious need of a shower and some sleep but first we had to meet all of Rowan's co-teachers who came round to our apartment. There were a gaggle of about five excited, giggling Korean women who bustled in bearing gifts of groceries and toilet roll which was reallly sweet of them. It was all a bit overwhelming but the co-teachers were all very friendly and welcoming. We were glad when we got to be on our own and crash out though!

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