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Published: February 25th 2011
A map pin in South Korea, that is. This is my first visit.
After an easy but exhaust- and grit-filled tuk-tuk ride to the airport in Phnom Penh, I was able to check in immediately and go upstairs to the comfy chairs. Those of you aware of my craving for chocolate last night should know that I got neither the chocolate linga (lingam) nor the chocolates shaped like the big stone faces from the Angkor Wat temple area. Instead I had a small, lackluster muffin that was more or less sufficient to hold me until Seattle.
The flight to Seoul was fine, though I didn't sleep much, or well. Breakfast was either a nasty omelette with grey-green overcooked broccoli, which I declined, or a disposable plastic tub (similar to the ones tofu comes in), heated, full of congee (rice porridge), which I accepted. It came with a little packet of green tea leaf shreds and sesame to sprinkle on top, and a dish of pickled radish with which I did the same. There were also two little rice balls filled with red bean paste and a tiny plastic tub (clearly reduce-reuse-recycle has not hit Korean Air) containing two cubs
of fruit. I'm hoping that on the next leg they'll again serve, and I'll be able to photograph, the individually-wrapped chunklet of pineapple. Conspicuous plastic waste aside, I could eat a meal like this every day for months before getting tired of it.
The airport n Seoul was reasonably easy. Waiting at the transit tour desk with a man who over two hours asked me only one question: Where did you fly in from? He talked about himself the rest of the time. Since his travels were interesting, it was a little easier to just go with it. Since there weren't enough people signing up for the two hour temple tour we wanted, when a third (but not a fourth) person showed up, we were offered a one hour tour for free. I could easily have stayed another hour. The temple area is on a hill with old trees and stone arrangements. The buildings are brightly painted and stand out against the winter ground. Magpies were squabbling and building nests, and I saw a flock of doves and a chickadee as well. The third person was a woman who complained about everything, including how it would look better in
summer but was terrible now. I tuned her out and saw a heron that I think I can identify later. I'd have enjoyed walking around the grounds more and enjoying the smells and sounds. Next time I'm through, I might take the local bus there.
After returning to and surveying the airport, I chose a promising looking cafe to get Korean food for lunch. I had an excellent dolsot (stone pot) bibimbap with sides of kimchi (also excellent), sweetened black beans with sesame seeds, and green beans in chili sauce. That and a bottle of water was $10 well spent.
I have 4 hours before my flight and still have the equivalent of $5 in hand. Perhaps I'll sit somewhere with a cup of tea and read.
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