Dubai to Donghae
Tickets printed, globe ready and bags packed it was time to leave Dubai and fly to my starting point - South Korea.
The flights were smooth and a 7 hour transit in Singapore was filled by a courtesy sight seeing tour laid on by the airport. It was good to get out of the departure lounge and although warm and humid, as a veteran of Dubai, quite bearable.
Three hours into the flight from Singapore to Seoul I was seriously reconsidering the wisdom over saving over £200 by not flying Emirates direct – but it was a momentary lapse only. Time passes even in an aeroplane. A collective harmonious gasp from the Korean passengers when we passed through minor turbulence made me smile and was the only event of note.
Immigration in Seoul was quick with me now sufficiently embolden to ask for my few remaining passport pages to be left blank and to stamp elsewhere.
The Incheon Oceanside Hotel was interesting. First sighting of the rear, by this time in the early hours of the morning, made me check I had the right hotel before leaving the taxi – I had. However, despite having seen better days, everything in the room worked at the touch of very many buttons, eventually. Sheets were pristine and all was well.
I was too late for breakfast and was kindly given two boiled eggs to take away which, supplemented with a handful of nuts, made a good start to the day.
The bus journey from coast-to-coast was excellent. The seats were very comfy and scenery lovely – somewhere between hills and mountains, covered in thick trees. First sight of the Japan Sea was exciting, as opposed to the Yellow Sea on the west coast. After checking in the Hyunjin hotel, with spectacular view across the sea from my room on the ninth floor, I set off to explore and find food. I chose well. Using the tried and tested technique of just pointing to something on the menu I was served a dish of soup with all the trimmings. Very delicious, although I have to confess to leaving some of the cuts of meat at the bottom of the soup. The young waiter and his mum were very welcoming.
Some of the highlights of any journey are the many mini encounters with strangers on the way. They’re hard to capture, and often fleeting, but very warming. The chap in the Internet cafe, whose English was as good as my Korean, but together we came up with an innovative solution to a wobbly plug; the teacher from New Zealand who had been to support her pupils attending a language school in Nice at the time of the attack; the stage designer from Germany on the bus to Donghae on the way to join her husband who had been sponsored as an artist to work in Gangwang, the receptionist telling me check out was at 7 until realising he meant 11…..and lots more.
Time to head to the Eastern Dream…and on to Russia.