Tuesday, December 09, 2008

26 hours in Seoul

We originally were supposed to fly to Bangkok from Seattle on November 30, but about 2000 people in Bangkok decided they didn't like the democratically (and massively corrupt) government and thought it a good idea to shut down the Bangkok airports in order to get their point across. This meant we couldn't fly when intended. The protestors eventually got what they wanted in the form of a judicial coup when the Thai courts ruled that the current political party in charge was put there illegally and that there will have to be new elections. All very frustrating to someone trying to fly to Bangkok and apparently for the rest of Thailand who like having tourists fly to their country and spend money. I read a poll that said 75 percent of thais were embarrassed by what went on in Bangkok and didn't agree with it.
Anyway, we scrambled to reschedule out tickets and decided to take Bangkok out of the picture all together which meant flying to seoul, enjoying a nice 25 hour layover, and then going straight to Chiang Mai.
[Korean toilet] Normally a 25 hour layover would be torture, but not with Korean air. We arrived tired and hungry in Seoul around 8:45 at night. I was particularly tired because we weren't able to reserve seats on the flight and got plopped down right in the middle of the "kids section" of the airplane. And let me tell you... there were a lot of kids. In front of me was a cute Korean kid that smelled of poo and to my left was a 2 year old girl who is going to be one hell of a firecracker when she is older. She basically screamed and fought for the entire 12 hour flight. Amazing stamina. Fortunately, the aircraft was new, had comfortable seats, and had around 50 movies to choose from. I watched 6.
[merry christmas from Seoul] So we arrive in Seoul, go to the Korean air desk (our luggage was checked straight through to thailand so we had nice light bags) and get all our little vouchers. A nice old man throws us into his minivan and off we go to a pretty sweet little hotel. It had one of those super cool toilets with a heated seat, front and back warm water sprayer and blow dryer to dry you off after the squirting. Soooooo goooood.
The next morning, we jumped on the incredibly efficient subway and cruised into town for the day. We ran a count of how many white people we saw and I think we counted 28 for the entire day. I'm pretty sure we were the only tourists in town. And here is why... it was around 15 degrees fahrenheit. The kind of cold where my breath would instantly freeze to my mustache. [the seoul tower] This would have been ok except that we were headed to thailand and didn't really have warm clothes. So we'd go out, tourist for a while and then have to jump in somewhere to warm up. "Oh look... a free photo gallery with pictures of germany in 1935. That looks warm." "How about another cup of coffee." "That kitchen supply market looks like it is warm inside" "Maybe if we stand next to this bathroom door, warm air will come out." That kind of stuff.
[artistic...] We walked around, ate when we could, and hiked up to the Seoul tower. Seoul is a big city surrounded by rocky hills and has a big hill in the middle of town. There are trails all around this hill and a big space needle like tower on top. So we walked all around it, saw a cool 400 year old archery range where you shoot arrows across a canyon to targets really far away and enjoyed great views of the city. After getting nearly hypothermic we finally finished up our time in seoul and hopped on our plane to Chiang Mai.
[the archery range] We were picked up at the airport by my friend Josh and immediately felt like we were home. After having lived here for two years this place feels more like home than even seattle does. I'm trying to figure out why. I think that in Seattle I am trying to scheme on how to go live somewhere else. I love seattle and the community of people that we have there, but ultimately, when I am there, I want to leave. But in Chiang Mai, this is where I want to be. It is the fun experience that I looking for when trying to leave seattle. So in that sense, I feel settled here. [our friend Black... we have people friends too] Our friends in Chiang Mai are fantastic people and it so fun to be here again. And then there is the food. Mmmmmmmm. I've gone to about half of my favorite haunts here. After I finish this blog, I think I will go and get some Kao Soy from my favorite place over by the 3 kings monument.

No post forever

[our new condo] It really has been a long time. A very long time. What all has happened: We came back to the states, I freaked out about it, we went on a month long climbing trip in Utah, Megan and I threw 8 events for Gore-tex all over the country, we witnessed the crash of America and then the pride of a democratic revolution in the states, we bought a condo in Seattle, and we got stressed out about a non-democratic revolution in Thailand. And then... we went back to thailand. Never a dull moment really.
[the bathroom in our condo]