South Korea: Fueled by Coffee and Friendship Part I

Some things I have realized about myself in the past couple of years: when I have the opportunity to travel with a friend, my answer is almost always going to be yes (as evidenced here, here, and here). And apparently I am willing to go halfway across the world to do so.

All that to say, I should have known better.

When my friend Shannon was doing her best to cover up her disappointment about being in South Korea alone longer than expected to finalize the adoption of her son, I should have known better than to make a joke about coming to see her. Within a matter of minutes, that “joke” turned into searching for plane tickets, which quickly escalated into purchasing said plane tickets and planning my trip to South Korea. A trip that would occur less than a month later. For a long weekend. You read that correctly. I went to South Korea for a grand total of 72 hours.

The only way to survive the madness? Drink lots of coffee and enjoy the amazingness that is longtime friendship.

Coffee #1: I began my journey early on a Thursday morning with the short flight from Medford to San Francisco.

I drank my first cup of coffee on the quick jaunt from OR to CA. That's the only reason I'm smiling at 5-something in the morning. Oh, and maybe because I am on my way to SOUTH KOREA to see one of my favorite people in the whole world!

I drank my first cup of coffee on the quick jaunt from OR to CA. Coffee is the reason I’m smiling at 5-something in the morning. Oh, and maybe because I am on my way to SOUTH KOREA to see one of my favorite people in the whole world!

Coffee #2: While in San Francisco, I had enough time to eat breakfast, drink more coffee, and walk around the sunny terminal.

Getting to go to the International Terminal? That always makes me happy!

Getting to go to the International Terminal? That always makes me happy!

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After a not-too-long layover, I settled into what would be my very tiny home for the next 12.5 hours.

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The flight was probably the least comfortable international flight I’ve experienced, but the time passed, as it always does.

Leaving the US!

Leaving the US!

As the beverage service began, I was mindful of my goal to actually sleep on the flight. Thus, the vodka instead of another coffee.

As the beverage service began, I was mindful of my goal to actually sleep on the flight. Thus, the vodka instead of another coffee.

A 12 plus hour flight is the perfect time for a Harry Potter marathon.

A 12 plus hour flight is the perfect time for a Harry Potter marathon.

The vegetarian option for lunch was surprisingly delicious Indian cuisine.

The vegetarian option for lunch was surprisingly delicious Indian cuisine.

After a few hours of fitful sleep, it was time to try to wake up again. I wanted to be able to sleep once I got to South Korea, after all. What’s the best way to wake up? Coffee and sunshine.

Coffee #3: I was looking a bit frazzled at this point.

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A peek out the window revealed this snowy view. No idea where this is - Russia, maybe?

A peek out the window revealed this snowy view. No idea where this is – Russia, maybe?

This was breakfast, I think. Unlike lunch, it was not very palatable. I could recognize this food neither by appearance nor taste.

This was breakfast, I think. Unlike lunch, it was not very palatable. I could recognize this food neither by appearance nor taste.

Coffee #4: So I drank another cup of coffee and continued to enjoy the scenery and Harry Potter movies.

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As the flight came to an end, I marveled at the almost magical experience of flying. Despite its drawbacks, which are many, airplanes allow me to leave the US on a cloudy Thursday morning and arrive 17 hours into the future on another continent and to another country around sunset on a Friday evening.

I think this is South Korea!!

I think this is South Korea!!

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And best of all, the magic of flying gives me the opportunity to do this – eat dinner with Shannon on the other side of the world. Because why fly to Tennessee when I can fly to South Korea? Every single uncomfortable hour of restless sleep, the sometimes mediocre food, the vomiting child in the seat next to me, the compression socks I wear on international flights to prevent my feet from swelling. All of it, every bit of it, was worth it for that.

Shannon and her friend, Mr. Song, picked me up from the airport (which has free wifi, allowing you the opportunity to easily communicate with the person picking you up - take note, China) drove me into Seoul.

Shannon and her friend, Mr. Song, picked me up from the airport (which has free wifi, allowing you the opportunity to easily communicate with the person picking you up – take note, China) and drove me into Seoul.

The random restaurant Mr. Song took us to near where we were staying. He ordered for us, in Korean, so I don't actually know what we ate, but it was good!!

Mr. Song brought us to a restaurant near where I was staying with Shannon. He ordered for us, in Korean, so I don’t actually know what we ate, but it was good!!

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In Korea, each meal is accompanied by a number of sides. I think these were some type of kimchi greens, fish cakes, soybean curd, and sprouts. Not knowing exactly what I was eating didn’t stop me from enjoying it!

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Things I know about this – it was wonderfully spicy and had vegetables, tofu, and beef.

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Some experiences can’t quite be put into words. Sometimes impulsive decisions are the best ones to make. And some friends are worth meeting for dinner on the other side of the world.

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2 thoughts on “South Korea: Fueled by Coffee and Friendship Part I

  1. Love the little “jab” to China! I wish they would catch on to what most of the world is doing, Ha! I’m really glad you got to go to South Korea and see Shannon!

    • Hahaha – I thought of you when I was writing that. My arrival in China would have been a bit different with wifi at the airport. Although it would have made for a much less interesting story 🙂

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