Tag Archives: starting out

13 hours = Korea

17 Aug

No joke, I didn’t think I could survive a flight as long as the one I Just endured.  After a wonderful meal with my sister and J. Beezy in Chicago on my five hour layover, I boarded a flight bound for Incheon, South Korea and prayed that the next 13 hours spent sucking down recycled air and enduring baby cries wouldn’t turn me into a madman.

To the contrary, the flight wasn’t all that bad.  A couple hours after take-off, the in-flight dinner was served. Asiana Airlines gives you two choices at every meal.  You can either go for the American comfort food (in this case, something that looked like beef stroganoff), or for the truly adventurous, there’s the Korean dish (in this case, a popular entree called Bibimbap). Now, I already had scarfed down a full meal of bistek a la Mexicana at my sis’s favorite Mexican joint in Chicago, so I wasn’t terribly hungry, but being that I’m trying to assimilate as fast as possible to my new home, I opted for the Bibimbap.  Basically it’s a dish of several different veggies–carrots, cucumbers, some type of mushrooms, bean sprouts, and spinach–toped with cold ground beef and an over easy egg. It looks a bit like this:

Mine didn’t come with the egg, but it was still pretty good. The idea is to throw some white rice on top, smother it in red chili paste and scrap.  I was totally going to bypass the chili paste (I didn’t know know what that stuff would do to my stomach, and I certainly didn’t want to ruin anyone’s flight with killer chili farts or questionable odors from the lavatory), but the flight attendant stopped by my seat to congratulate me on my meal selection and recommended adding the blood red sauce to my meal.  What could I do? She honestly stood there to make sure I complied.

Now I like hot sauce as much as the next man, but this shit was killer. Just a small drop had me reaching for my water bottle. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to seem rude, so I quickly finished my meal, had a couple bites of Kimchi (more on that later) and settled in for the one of the in-flight movies, Clash of the Titans–it sucked.

*Author’s note: At the time of writing, another black person joined the group of EPIK teachers waiting for the shuttle. Yeah!

Besides the food (I had a glorious omelet for breakfast) what impressed me most about the Asiana flight was the service. The flight attendants went above and beyond to please. An example? I’m finishing up the weak coffee they served with breakfast and the flight attendant walks by with a beverage cart accidentally bumping my elbow. My coffee spills all over my lap and on my t-shirt and immediately the poor fellow starts apologizing and handing me wet towels and napkins. I tell him it’s not a problem as the coffee was already cold and I had a spare shirt in my carry-on, but he still proceeds to tell one of the other flight attendants to grab some more towels and soda water to get the stain out.  So here I am, sitting in my chair as this tiny Korean woman is going to town on my $3 t-shirt with a towel and soda water.  She then asks me if I have an extra shirt, and when I tell her yes, she instructs me to take off my stained T and allow her to take it to the back to have it properly cleaned.
“Uh, ok.”
So now I have no shirt on, ripping through my bag in the overhead compartment looking for the spare shirt I know I packed, in front of the whole cabin of people.  It was quite the show, and I didn’t get a dime for my performance.

Still, 30 min. before the plane lands Mr. Make-Me-Spill appears once more with my shirt in hand, clean as ever.  As he hands it to me, he gives a warning that the arm pits might still be a bit wet from when it was washed. “So be careful please sir.” I thank him a thousand times and hope no one thinks I was being a prick.  After all, I didn’t tell them to wash my shirt. Honestly, it was my fault for leaning so far in the aisle.  Whatever the situation, one for damn sure wouldn’t get that type of service on an american airline! Not unless you’re flying business class. Not a bad first experience with Korean culture though.

Ciao,

Kimchi Dreadlocks

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