The clock striked 12. It’s December 4th and my day was far from over, an episode of my program was still underway. 2AM; pack up. I went to bed at half past three.
You entered a candy store to buy a chocolate. You went in full circle to look for what you have in mind, paid for it, opened then licked it, then took a bite, until you realized, it wasn’t all chocolate. Mint filling bursting out of the soft sweet ball. You left the store confused. Did it make sense? I don’t think so.
It was a lethargic morning on December 4th. I woke up to my new alarm — a heavy metal music (just to make sure I won’t oversleep). It felt like a dream, like I was in the center of the candy store, everything was senseless. I stood up and stayed still for a good five minutes until it came to me that I haven’t finished packing. Shoot! I breezed through my wardrobe and picked last additions to my stuff. I thought it will be easy but you can never really tell until you are done, you don’t really know what to expect with a chocolate with a surprise center. I was nervous and curious and everything in between.
Viber messages coming in, everyone will be arriving early at the airport, 9:30AM and I am far from being done. It was past 10AM when I finished packing and prepared to leave. 12:30 I arrived at the airport.
I was lining up to the scanner when things from Indochina trip came into me. I felt the same nerve just seeing the overcrowded airport. It was an assault on the senses. I immediately called Tikoy to ask their whereabouts and found out that they’re somewhere near the travel tax cashier.
That moment when I was walking to them, it felt strange, I didn’t know why but it did. For a moment, I sighed and composed myself and mustered enough thickness to introduce myself to the others. There I met Shie, Phoebe, and Mark for the first time. Stef and Tikoy were there, Kath and Gayle came after a while.
After all the check-in procedure, the group decided to have a lunch. We had little chats about ourselves — what we do and where we’re from. After the quick lunch, we decided to go to the gates. While sitting pretty and updating facebook statuses, the AirAsia group didn’t realize that their plane was already boarding — no call whatsoever from the staff, “maiwan na ang maiwan“. After a little while, our CebuPac flight was ready for boarding.
The plane was just half-filled so I had all the space in the world to extend my legs. While I was completely relaxed, legs full stretched, with my earphones on and lying on the seats, I felt the plane was rocking. I checked the seatbelt sign but it seemed like everything was fine. Until I felt another bump. “Okay this has to stop, what’s with that?” I stood up, looked at my back and oh boy why were they all in winter clothes? That explained all the bump my head suffered. “Gusto ko nang tuktukan yung mga nasa likod ko! Gusto niyo lang pala mag-winter clothes pwede naman yan sa airport gawin!“.
Three hours and 45 minutes flight felt like endless. When we arrived at the Incheon Airport and we got off the plane. “Hooooottangnaloob” it was freezing. Good thing the airport’s temperature was just fine. Incheon Airport was awesome, everything that NAIA doesn’t have, they have there. How awful MIA! Anyway, since we needed to catch the bus to Seoul, we headed straight to the immigration and baggage claims. We layered up a bit so we won’t turn into ice when we go out. I thought a hoodie, shirt, sweatpants and scarf will do. Since “come on, we’re only waiting for a few minutes, giginawin ka na ba agad?” But as Kath and Gayle went out, I thought something was wrong, because they immediately went back. When they had their scarves and gloves on, we went outside. I went out — all in my hoodie and shirt, sneakers, and sweatpants — thinking it won’t be that cold but boy don’t ever underestimate winter in Korea. I thought I’ll die in minutes.
I stared at Tikoy, she laughed at my face. I told her “What have I gotten myself into?“. I suddenly missed my sando and shorts outfit in Indochina. We were outside for only a few minutes but shoot that was freaking cold. I signed up for it I know, I just didn’t expect to feel the absence of heat of my body in such a short time. After a few chills, and maybe few curses 😜, we boarded the bus that will take us to Seoul.
You remember a morning when you wake up, you’re late, then went straight to the bathroom, open the shower, you know it will be cold but when the water touched your skin, you froze. After an hour of bus ride, we were already in our bus stop. When we got off, “Punnnyyeemmaaassss may ilalalamig pa ba to?“. It was an impending doom that we knew was coming but no matter how much you prepare for it, it’s as if you didn’t prepare at all. We walked to the guesthouse. Tikoy gave us the rooms and off we went.
The room has heated floors for the love of God! Thank you Lord! The group decided to go out for a walk to see what’s around and to look for place to eat. We found ourselves walking in the freezing street of Hyehwa. The stores were already closed when we got there. To beat the cold night, we headed to a restaurant that serves chicken. Again? Yup chicken, spicy chicken. There we talked about previous travels and I observed Gayle and Shie as they talk about their Korean obsession. Seriously Gayle, you can read and speak Korean? 😄. Mark and I felt like “huh?”. Anyway, the chicken was filling, too spicy for me.
Korean weather can be very harsh. While walking back to the guesthouse, I couldn’t quite contain everything. It seemed only yesterday Tikoy told us about the trip. And on that freezing moment, everything started to sink in. Erase everything from work and have the time of my life. Time — sometimes — can be very cruel. While things can seem ideal, we only have 86400 seconds in a day to make the most out of it.