South Korea: The Debriefing

It took 25 hours, 2 taxis, a bullet-train, a bus, and two planes to get from our hostel in Busan to our house in Snoqualmie and, naturally, I have a lot of catching up to do around the house. Suitcases to empty, a lawn to mow, groceries to buy, dogs to play with and walk, etc., etc., etc.

Kristin and I had an overall amazing trip, but not for the reasons you might expect. I'll elaborate in what I expect to be a rather lengthy three-part travel story later this week or next. I took many notes during my trip and gave thought each day to what I would write when I got home. The answer didn't come to me until one night when I laid awake in the bed belonging to Hyeon Ju's parents. I'll explain later.

First I have to sort through the more than 1200 photos I took to collect the best six or so and send them to our mayor who we spent a few days with. There's going to be an article in the Snoqualmie Valley Record about our trip (we spent part of the trip as "Official Delegates" and I even got to read the english version of an agreement between Snoqualmie and Gangjin during a meeting of Ganjin's City Council) and he needs the photos right away. Speaking of photos, everyone knows the Japanese take their photography very seriously, but so do the Koreans. It seemed like every other person had a Canon 450D and at least on in every ten cameras I saw was a Canon Mark-II 5D. That's a several thousand dollar piece of equipment, excluding the lens. My favorite were the people with the little Canon and Sony compact cameras mounted to giant studio-grade tripods. Awesome.

I do want to give a major tip of the cap (and definitely not a wag of the finger, for my fellow members of the Colbert Nation) to Air Canada. I had left a small black journal and pen in the seatback pocket on the plane that I flew on from Incheon to Vancouver. I didn't realize this until 2 hours into my layover in Vancouver on the way home. I searched the small US-only concourse for an Air Canada agent to ask for help (I was already through US customs in Canada and this portion of the airport is, as far as security is concerned, US soil so I couldn't leave without going through Canadian customs). I couldn't find one. The journal had all my notes from the trip, not to mention a detailed outline that I wrote last Friday morning during a stroll outside a wild tea retreat we stayed at near a thousand year old Buddhist temple. I returned to the bar where Kristin waited and sulked in my beer. Moments later I spotted an agent sporting the Air Canada red maple leaf and ran up and explained my problem. I felt pretty stupid copping to leaving something so important (to me) on the plane, but he wrote down my info, the flight number, where I was heading, and so forth on a scrap of paper and said he'd do what he could do.

Fifteen minutes later he walked past and glanced at the scrap of paper in his hand after seeing me spot him in the crowd. It looked like he had completely forgotten already. Figures. He walked back to me five minutes later to explain that the plane was likely already gone, that nobody found it, and that sometimes "lost means lost". He said not to give up hope, but that it will likely require some phone calls when I get back to Seattle.

He showed back up at the bar ten minutes later with my journal and pen. The book was only about 3" by 5" in size and could have very easily have been overlooked or even tossed aside. It only had writing on about 15 to 20 pages. But it was important and they found it. And Air Canada earned a loyal fan.

I didn't catch the guy's name who found it for me. I tried to buy him a beer but he was on duty. I offered to buy him lunch when he took his break (I had a long layover and our flight landed 45 minutes early), but he waved it off and simply walked away.

Well, whoever he was, he really made my day. And made his company proud. Thank you, whoever you were.


Criscipline said...

I can't wait for the whole story. You've built suspense (Buddhist Temple, wild tea farm, tandem biking through rice paddies (Facebook)..) I'm looking forward to hearing more. Welcome back!

Jackie said...

Ditto! So glad you had a safe trip! South Korea is really a place I have been planning on visiting (and Japan) for quite some time, and I'm all the more eager to do so now!