Published: September 1st 2007August 31st 2007
These are fabulous creatures and a kind of mix between a woolly mammoth and a cow. (As described to me by an Aussie lad from Brisbane)
You may be wondering why I'm bothering to write an entry from South Korea, seeing as I only stayed here for one night, I am wondering too, (It will become clearer at the end!) but as I sat on my 11 hour flight to Seoul I had plenty of time to reflect on my whirlwind tour of New Zealand and Sydney. 11 hours is a lot of time to fill when you are crammed into a slightly larger than sardine tin space hemmed in by many exhausted and bored looking people who you can't have a conversation with unless you speak Korean. I'd thought to come prepared for the flight from Auckland to Seoul, 30 minutes in an airport bookshop saw me finally deciding on a Jeremy Clarkson book. I'd been looking for a good story to read but I didn't think a war / psychological thriller would hold my attention and I wasn't about to start depressing myself with any romance novel, so Clarkson it was. It was quite a chunky book and I'd have to make it last two long flights, I knew that the people around me wouldn't appreciate me giggling the whole way so I bought another
They actually have quite sharp teeth and cough all their food over you.
couple of puzzle books to engage my mind! I hoped too that I'd finally have a decent film to watch after having to sit through Blades of Glory on two previous flights and then a pathetic slushy American film with Meg Ryan in it. It was obviously far too much to hope for, as these were the two films shown after the pathetic slushy Korean film, still I had Clarkson which I finished in 3 hours (I had to keep putting it down every now and again as the effort of trying to stop myself from laughing out loud was getting a bit much) I identify with Clarkson purely on the fact that he hates wasps as much as I do, can exaggerate at times (which I allegedly do on occasion) and suffers from a variety of ailments which usually leave him at death's door! With Clarkson finished I hit the sudoku...37 puzzles later I was bored again and thought I'd better save the last 3 for the next 10 hour flight. At least I wasn't miserable on this flight, (I discovered that it is possible to weep on and off from Australia to New Zealand -just under 2000 miles
- a possible record perhaps?) The food was pretty good and I got up a couple of times to stretch my legs. I thought this fairly important seeing as I'd "forgotten" to put on my highly attractive yet practical flight stockings on. I had a vague thought of if I did get another DVT and pegged it in Seoul would I get money back on the second part of the flight if I went back in the hold of a plane? Or would Mike be able to accompany me back for the last part of the journey as I find it confusing enough getting through all the different bits of an airport in the right order and finding gates whilst alive at the best of times.
Thankfully I made it safely to Incheon airport, i wished I'd paid more attention to one of my Korean children who had taught me two important phrases in Korean for my arrival at the airport. The first phrase being "Where's the toilet?" and the other being "I'm lost!". Neither of which could I remember as I wandered through the airport searching for a tiny desk which in the end happened to be on the
It's a Wood Pigeon known as a Kereru, I saw loads of these all in captivity but this one was wild!!!
furthest side of the airport. Finally I found the right bus to take me to the hotel and the 4 star luxury I'd been looking forward to all week. The first time sleeping on my own in a room for nearly 6 weeks...total bliss. The sheets were all crisp and snow white and I even had 2 pillows, I wouldn't be needing to fold all my clothes up neatly and use them as a makeshift pillow for a change! There was even a TV, I was slightly disappointed not to find "Deal or no Deal" seeing as I'd seen that several times in Australia and a couple of times in passing in NZ. Our version is way better than any foreign version I've seen! Instead I settled down in front of a Goldfish catching competition before falling asleep.
I was up early and after the longest shower ever I grabbed some breakfast and went for a wander. I tried to go for a wander, the airport hotel is miles from anywhere so I had to settle for meandering around the perimeter of the hotel and along a very long road with nothing on it. It was quite humid and the
If you look closely you can spot the bit of gold I found whilst panning (for gold) in a river in Arrowtown.
sounds of swarms of crikets and beetles filled the air, normally if I hear a cricket I always stop and see if I can find it (one of my little OCD's) but I resisted and continued on. Now I've had a few near misses on the pedestrian crossings of Australia and New Zealand, in NZ you can walk diagonally across a junction but this is not the case in Australia, in NZ trams don't pay attention to pedestrians and in Australia cars seem to go whenever they feel like it. In Australia I was closely supervised by Mike crossing the roads and in NZ it was down to pure luck that I wasn't hit by anything. I was pleasantly surprised by the pedestrian crossings in South Korea, when it is safe to cross it plays music at you a bit like musical chairs, move when the music plays but when it stops you risk being crushed to death by the massive buses. It seemed to be a very happy place. I didn't see much of South Korea in the end, just a bit of road, big fields, a mountain or two in the distance and the hotel but at least
A Landrover Defender
Yes the guide and I did enjoy a long conversation on Landrover Defenders. (Anyone dare to even whisper the word...geek?)
I'd stepped outside the airport so I'm claiming South Korea!
My second flight was so much better film wise, I had my own little TV, I began with Hot Fuzz and Shrek 3 and so I giggled away quite happily to myself for 4 hours. I still had another 7 hours to go so I managed an hour or two of logic puzzles (in semi darkness as they insist on closing the windows) before attempting to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 3... I was sure that the delicious Johnny Depp would keep me awake and he did for a while but soon I found my eyes were resting and I was in listening mode so I've no idea how it ended. I started to come to just over the Barents Sea and began to think about my trip. I have so many memories of all the stunning places that I saw, the mountains, rainforests, seas, rivers, volcanoes, glaciers and of course the wildlife. I met so many interesting and sometimes downright weird people from all sorts of places and backgrounds, all with the same common aim of having as much fun as they could in new and exciting places. There
A final gratuitous photo of some rocks
What's a blog without a photo of some rocks?
were so many highlights of the trip which, in New Zealand, mostly involves walking up mountains or through rainforests, so many times I was blown away but the sheer beauty and variety of one country. The very best bit of the whole Summer has to be seeing Mike in Sydney and the very worst bit was saying goodbye again.
I would love to go back to New Zealand to see all the bits I missed and also back to Australia because I only saw such a small part but on the other hand I really, really want to see some polar bears next or maybe tigers and I'd love to see a real tornado and the Northern lights too. So perhaps it'll have to wait a while til I've seen a bit more of the rest of the world!
And now a slight confession... I'm only writing this final part of the blog from South Korea so I can have two more countries coloured in more than Mike! (I know it's not a competition and by the end of next year he'll have at least 20 coloured but just for now....I'm finally beating you at something!)
My luxury 4 * bed!
So soft and comfortable and not a bunk bed either!
then, an apology for the hastily written blogs, often with grammatical and spelling errors, (I hate bad spelling) and yes I probably will go back through it and correct them! I've had the best Summer ever and to completely steal one of Mike's quotes (yet again) because it sums up my Summer quite nicely...Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away.
There are more photos below