Two long days of travel. My attempt to pack light meets with failure once again. I lug my suitcase 5 blocks to metro on Wednesday morning. On the train, 3 Korean young ladies chat cozily. One is fingering the long red-dyed hair of another. When I step off metro at Dongdaegu, I am startled by screaming and yelling. The 3 girls are pulling each others’ hair and hitting and slapping each other, screeching like wild monkeys. The Koreans on the platform are shocked into inaction. Finally 2 Korean men and 1 woman intervene and break them up. These girls are as dangerously violent as any men I’ve ever seen. I have NEVER seen this kind of behavior here; Koreans are usually so passive and reserved!
Onward. I catch the bus to Incheon. Four and a half hours through monotone Korea. Maybe I should say tri-color Korea: deep green, beige, and black. Green grass & trees, beige skyscraper concrete apartment blocks, and the black hair of all Koreans (oh, except that red-head and we saw what happened to her!). It hits me that what I so miss while living in Korea is color and diversity. So happy to be escaping, though only briefly.
At Incheon, I immediately catch the airport-free shuttle to Cargo Terminal A, where I am to pick up the package Mike mailed me from home. A wild goose chase: hours of traipsing across huge expanses of asphalt from warehouse to warehouse in the middle of nowhere, sun pounding down, me drenched in salty slime. Why, why, why am I doing this?? I pay Customs 72,000 won, stuff the package contents into my already overstuffed suitcase, and catch the shuttle back to the airport where I wait 3 more hours for my flight at 11:55 pm.
FLY EMIRATES. All through the World Cup games, I was enticed by the Emirates ads on the periphery of the field. I board the double-decker airbus that could only be an Emirates over-the-top offering. Not so great for us bottom-floor economy passengers. The seats are tight and uncomfortable for overnight sleeping. But a surreal experience at first: a perfumed mist blowing into the cabin from above the storage compartments, a mesmerizing tinkling tune playing. Designed to put one into sleep mode, I think. A fitful night of sleeping beside a Korean mother and daughter. We arrive in Dubai at 3:45 a.m. I have 10 hours to kill in Dubai. More about that to follow.