Sunday, July 13, 2008

Travelogue: June 08: Day 00-02

I went on vacation June 10, 2008. I tried to keep a travel log for the 10 days. Here was the first entry:

Well, as I'm writing this, it is apparently about 3:30 on Thursday morning. In actuality, I'm guessing about 6:30 Thursday evening. For those of you trying to figure it out, I'm in Korea.

South Korea. I don't want to try North Korea for a while yet.

We left my house about 20 minutes past nine Tuesday morning, headed for San Francisco Airport. No traffic, which was quite nice, got us to the airport in plenty of time. For those of you who are curious, upgrading your ticket is definitely the way to travel. You get lounge privileges, wider seats, more legroom... I learned a few things on the trip, too. 40,000 feet +500 mph = -70°F, for one. 12 hours sitting in an airplane seat, even if it is upgraded, is majorly boring. I ended up watching six movies, I believe: a couple of American (spider wick Chronicles, and something called "Vantage Point," I believe. It had Dennis Quaid and Forest Whitaker, if that rings any bells), and four Korean movies (with subtitles). A couple of them were very good, but I didn't catch the titles.

We arrived at Inchon Airport at about 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday -- love that International Date Line, and headwinds that slowed us down by an hour. Getting through customs was a piece of cake. The only thing that they wanted to look at was the hardshell case that I keep the portable patient lift in (I can't call it a Hoyer lift, because it's made by a company called Molift, but it's basically the same thing), just because it was oversized. A quick run through the x-ray machine and we were done. Oh yeah, I got to go to the head of the immigration line, because of the wheelchair.

We finally got to the hotel -- a Ramada Inn & Suites -- about nine o'clock. Jalia and gotten some sleep on the plane, as did Truc, but Neither Kim or I Did. Add to that nobody really sleeping well the night before, and you get a quartet of very tired people.

While Kim was handling checking in, the rest of us headed up to the room. Nice room. King-size, with a handicapped bathroom (which I haven't been in yet). So we got the luggage in (forgot to tip the bell hop, but then again he didn't show us where anything was, either), opened up the hardshell case, started pulling everything out (we had packed most of the medical supplies I enjoy traveling with) and...

Some things are very important. Having my chair, very important. Having a battery charger for my chair that can be plugged into a different outlet than the American Standard, also very important. Nice not having someone have to push me all over the place. Means to get me from the wheelchair to the bed, much easier on everyone's backs. Having the battery that powers that lift...

Marivic, I'm sorry for waking you up this morning. Remember to give me the receipt for FedEx-ing the battery and recharger over here.

So, that was Day 00 and Day 01.

Day 02, today, Thursday, was relatively relaxed. We left here around 11 o'clock. Just a light day, kind of recovering from the actual travel.

Wheelchair travel in Seoul doesn't seem, so far, completely horrendous. There is a distinct, uhm, "second- thought-ed-ness" towards sidewalk cutouts so a wheelchair can get on & off sidewalks. Sometimes it might be just the sidewalk dipping within a couple of inches of the street pavement...

I'm glad I had not taken the shoulder straps off of the wheelchair, too. Some of these sidewalks will be tipped one way and then all of a sudden be tipped the other. Traffic itself -- well, it's traffic. But at least they stop where they are supposed to add an intersection, instead of blocking the crosswalk.

We stopped by one of the castles for a couple of hours. Remember, Asian castles are generally nothing like European castles. This particular one was being used in the late 1800s, with Western influences creeping in great about the turn of that century. There was a Russian Embassy and a British embassy, as well as some American influences during that time. And this is in the middle of Seoul, and there are a couple more scattered around the city!

After our time there, Kim got ahold of her brother-in-law, who works at the national Bank, to arrange for us to be able to get into the Currency Museum. Yes, a museum of money. Kind of cool. They don't really want you taking pictures in there, though.

Then we went to Namdeamun Market (we think that's how it's spelled), just to see what it was like. Think of a flea market. Set in the middle of the street, with vendors on both sides, and the stores still open. Put a couple thousand people in it.

Then allow two-way motor vehicle traffic.

Then we headed back to the hotel, because Kim was getting very tired. I was getting very tired. I was down to somewhere between 30 and 40% charge left on my batteries. And we had somehow turned off the power to the room.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Yes, I found the same in Japan and Thailand for markets except that in Thailand there were usually railroad tracks which I thought meant that this was on old rail line and paved up to be level, when "Ding, Ding" here comes a slow moving freight train through the market.

You mention the cars, what about the bicycles and scooters? Heavy percentage of that, or no? Maybe in tomorrow's read. I just found this travelogue so I can catch up day by day.

I have to say the thing which facinated me the most was that you have a lift that can be put in a suitcase, how cool is that?

I am impressed that you managed three attractions just after arriving, good stamina. In case you want to make a hobby of it, in Canada, the Royal Mint (where they make the money and have the Museum) is in Winnipeg; and most of the work they do is subcontracted money for other countries. I wonder if Korea does that too?

Raccoon said...

There were some bicycles, although not really very many. Lots more scooters, and lots of motorcycles. Apparently, there's not very many traffic laws for motorcycles.

I really should finish off the travelogue and post some pictures. Don't expect too much?

The suitcase for the lift is actually quite large. It's about 2' x 2' by 4 1/2 feet. It has wheels on one end and handles along one side and at the other end. And a surprising amount of room available around the lift.

We were allowed to take pictures at the currency Museum. There was also a class touring it at the same time, so Kim was able to pick up some of what their tour guide was saying and translated for us. I'll have to ask if they print for other countries. It's a good question.

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