Well the international life officially resumed for team Prewett-Boswell today, starting with a rather rocky send off from Saint Louis airport. We showed up about 2 hours before our international flight only to find out that it was delayed due to mechanical issues, which would cause us to miss our connecting flight leaving from Dallas, destination Seoul, South Korea. As luck would have it, there was an earlier flight heading to Dallas that wasn’t delayed. Too bad that the lines at the ticket counter were so long that by the time we got to the front, we missed boarding that flight by 15 minutes. The solution was to book us on a later flight to Dallas and re-booking us on a new flight to Tokyo, Japan where we would then have to catch a flight to Seoul. So much for that direct flight from Dallas to Seoul and so much for sitting together…
Disappointed, but happy to be leaving all the same, we headed for breakfast only to have the bad juju follow us. Although I was the starving one (which would surprise no one who knows us), it was my order that came out wrong and had to be sent back, not a big deal when you aren’t already tired and hangry. Following breakfast, we headed to the gate only to find out that our new flight was delayed. This time due to the bad weather that was ravaging the East Coast and parts of the Midwest. It was now questionable whether we’d make our Tokyo flight. We were also starting to question who in the universe we ticked off.
Finally, though, our plane arrived and we were off to Dallas where we made it to our gate with just enough time to grab a sandwich to-go and board the plane. Sadly, there was no time to ask to have our seats switched to make the flight together. But, in a sudden turn of luck, the nearly full plane had two seats open right next to me, allowing us to sit together for the 13 hour flight. It seemed our luck had turned around, but right about as we were flying past Alaska, someone had a medical emergency and they had to ask if there was a doctor on board (I felt like I was in a movie! If only I could have said, “Yes, I’m a doctor.” Oops, I meant to say, “I hope they’re ok!”). For a moment there, it looked like we were going to turn around for an emergency landing, but it was a false alarm on our part. I guess it was a good doctor…
After that, the flight was entirely uneventful. We watched movies, read, listened to podcasts, played Battleship and other games like bowling. We also played checkers or what I think of as Satan’s favorite past-time. When Tim asked me to play I balked. I hate checkers. I have always hated checkers. I will always hate checkers. Unfortunately, Tim still roped me into playing and I rediscovered why I hate playing them so much, prompting one of my more eloquent moments of recent memory, “Crankers make me checky!” We laughed at my mix-up, but we also stopped playing after that, so mission accomplished.
Finally, we landed in Tokyo, and I’m not going to lie. I was pretty excited to use a fancy Japanese toilet with the heated seats and music and waterworks. So, straight off the plane we headed for the bathroom and I picked the stall that said “Japanese style” toilet. Imagine my disappointment when it was nothing but a hole in the ground. It was awkward. What was more awkward is when I discovered a few days later that there is a right way and wrong way to face in a “Japanese style” toilet, and apparently I did it backwards. Who knew squatting over a hole in the ground could be so complicated?
After wandering the Tokyo airport we settled in at our gate to people watch. Tim observed everyone either looks 12 or 80, and there seems to be no gradual aging in between. I don’t really agree with this, but I will say people generally look quite young, and the women in particular have beautiful skin. Or at least we think they do. We could be wrong; it is hard to tell when they are wearing surgical masks. Young children wear masks; old people wear masks; airport guards wear masks; they wear masks inside and outside, and they wear masks even when they smoke!
We also noticed that people were generally quiet and orderly and when an adolescent got a little too noisy playing with an empty water bottle, a mask-wearing airport security guard yelled at him and you could have heard a pin drop. Needless to say, he didn’t have to be told twice. The whole incident was quite a contrast to US or European culture where few people would bother to correct a child on such a thing.
Shortly after it was time to finally board our flight to Seoul where we arrived the evening of the 15th. Upon arriving to our hotel, they offered us free welcome drinks, and although we were tempted to celebrate our arrival in our new home country (for the next year), fatigue won out and we were asleep before we could even truly appreciate the fact that it was the first time in 28 hours we got to lay down.