Oct 19, 2010
The first leg of the trek over to Bangkok (courtesy of Korean Airlines) was from Seattle to Seoul and it took over eleven hours. Trying to relax in my customary window seat, I amused myself with a selection from the movie channel (an oldie, The Hustler, featuring Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman), then worked out a navigation scheme for the three audio channels that on occasion played tunes I liked. But despite a fair-sized bibimbap meal served by the stunning Korean stewardess, my body refused to recover from the abuse of the past weekend (too little sleep and too much self-indulgent eating). As punishment, I had to endure not only a painful stomach, but also a migraine and plugged sinuses. Guess I hit the trifecta.
A miserable beginning for this new chapter of my life.
We actually flew not into Seoul, but the new Incheon Airport about thirty miles to the west. Its sparkling interior resembles a ritzy shopping mall with prices designed to soak unwary, jet-lagged passengers. I took a mini tour and wasn’t overly impressed. But perhaps this was a reflection of my decision last year to put South Korea behind me. I’d had decidedly mixed experiences with the country, first laboring there as an English instructor for fifteen up-and-down months in 1995 and 1996, then a pair of quite pleasurable follow-up visits a dozen years later. In other words, it’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to work there.
Though “only” five plus hours down to Bangkok from Incheon, it felt far longer. I gamely attempted to get some sleep, but it only came in brief snatches. I felt awful. To be sure, much of this came from my careless, pre-departure overeating, but it’s also true that my once-reliable body cannot handle these long flights like it used to, even compared to a few years ago. It reinforces the suspicion that in the future I’ll be cutting back on my travels.
Enough writing for now. All that sugar from the Cokes I imbibed wandering about in the heat this afternoon, fighting off sleepiness, is wearing off. I’m going under.