Monday, June 20, 2011

A Nuclear Nihon Vacation

There are a lot of things to be said about my jaunt to Japan, but I suppose that first of all, I'll say this:

this trip very nearly didn't happen.

And you want to know who to blame?

Children. And Buddha.


I guess I shouldn't be bitching. It's only due to the unique confluence of strange Asian holidays that I got to take this pricy little mini-break in the first place. The plan is to go up to Seoul Wednesday after school, hop the high-speed KTX down to Busan, crash for the night with a Canadian Couchsurfing host and then catch the 9:00 ferry to Fukuoka. This beautiful, pain-stakingly crafted plan is blown to smithereens about 30 mintues into the Icheon-Seoul commute.

We are not moving. This is not "heavy" traffic. This is not "rush hour" traffic. (As if an any more inaccurate moniker existed.)

This is I-hate-everyone-and-everything-around-me traffic.

This is praying-for-the-world-to-end-so-I-don't-have-to-listen-to-this-crazy-ajumma-yapping-on-her-phone-for-one-more-second traffic.

This is traffic so bad I would rather watch the movie Traffic. This is saying something.

The cause of this traffic? CHILDREN. I have a profound disdain for children most of the time anyway, but this is too much. The reason for all of this traffic is CHILDREN'S DAY. Which I'm pretty sure is a fake holiday anyway. I hate children.

So, we're late. We're really freaking late. This bus trip normally takes an hour and we are now clocking in at three and a half. Even yet, there is still a shred of optimism left in me. I'm thinking "Oh, so great that I decided to come up right after school! My KTX isn't until 11:30, and it's only 10!" No, friends. No.

After shoveling something from Paris Baguette in my mouth, I decide to catch a cab. SURELY this will be faster than the packed subway. I will be at Seoul Station in no time. No.

I am running, sprinting, breaking land speed records up to the ticket gate at Seoul Station. It is 11:23. I have made it! No.

The attendant checks my ticket and frowns. My heart sinks. I READ THE TICKET WRONG. I was on the 11:00 KTX, which is probably halfway to Gwangju by now. Meanwhile, there is a very nice Canadian in Busan waiting up until two in the morning for me to stay on his couch for free. I am having a meltdown.

I call Matt the Canadian in a complete panic. I am now choking over raggedy breath and frustration tears trying to explain to this guy I've never spoken to in person that I have missed my train. And bless his moose-eating heart, he was the greatest sport in the world. He assured me that the 5:30 AM train ticket I bought would probably maybe get there in time to catch the 9:00 ferry and then texted me the name of the port in Korean for the taxi driver. God save the Queen, and Matt the Canadian.

I am exhausted from frustration and my five hours of travel but still need some place to rest my head for the night. After wandering around Seoul Station for twenty-five minutes, I come upon the skeeviest love hotel in the creepiest alley I've ever wandered down at two in the morning. I pay $30 for the privilege and sink into the bed in my blue-lit, sparkle wallpaper room. I watch an episode of Jersey Shore at 2:30 AM and fall asleep for three hours.

I wake up at 4:30 in the morning. I have lost my will to live. I wrench myself out of bed to take a zombie shower and watch animals killing each on the Discovery Channel while I dry my hair. I nearly forgot to put socks on. One more salute to the prostitute at the ice machine and I'm off.

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