The 40-Hour Journey

Today was a whirlwind, frantic, exhausting end to our trip. It began with a relatively smooth (although long) bus ride from Busan to Seoul. As we drove, I found myself wishing we had spent more time in the countryside – the view of the mountains outside the window was gorgeous. Plus, how often will I be driving at home and pass rice paddy fields on the side of the highway?

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Not many roadside views like this is Pennsylvania

We stopped for lunch at a rest area, where, just like my previous experience, I had a very nice meal. This time I ordered ramen, after realizing that I hadn’t eaten it once this entire trip. The ordering system was a little more complicated than last time, though, and I panicked at the register and ordered the most basic ramen on the menu. It still ended up being delicious, though, and I finished off the meal with the cutest tiramisu milkshake I’ve ever seen.

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Complete with one last side of kimchi

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Arriving at the airport in Incheon was also straightforward, and I zipped through security even faster than the first time, knowing now that applesauce does in fact count as a liquid. The 12-hour flight was also fine, I luckily had an aisle seat and made it halfway through “The Favourite” before falling asleep. By the time we touched down in Dallas around 4PM, I felt relatively well-rested and happy that the worst part of the trip was done with.

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. . . at least, that’s what I thought. Little did I know that I’d be stuck in the Dallas airport for over 12 hours before we could catch a flight home to Philadelphia.

Our original flight was supposed to leave at 6PM, which gave us a reasonable 2 hours before takeoff. We quickly learned that it had been delayed to 8:30 – no big deal, we’d be home before midnight. However, the longer we stayed in the waiting area, the more our flight kept getting pushed back . . . 9PM . . . 11 PM. Eventually, they announced that due to unsafe conditions and the flight attendants being overworked, the flight wouldn’t be leaving until 9AM the next morning.

So, I had my first overnight stay in an airport. A few of us managed to get into the 1stclass lounge and began to set up camp until we sadly realized it closed at 11PM. The next few hours were spent on the cold hard benches in the normal waiting area, trying to snag a few moments of sleep. Around 3:30AM, we realized that there were earlier flights leaving for Philly that morning and scrambled to put our names on the waiting list. Miraculously, everyone got a spot on the 5AM flight, and we touched down in Philly around 9AM on Sunday– which, accounting for time differences, was a full 40 hours after we boarded the bus in Busan!

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The 1st class lounge was nice while it lasted

Despite telling myself that I would stay awake to get back into a normal sleep schedule, I crashed almost as soon as I got home. As I finish this blog, I’m very jet-lagged, but completely, happily overwhelmed with the many memories I’ve made in South Korea.

 

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