And So It Begins…
And so it begins.
From LAX to SFO. A beautiful drive along PCH with my dad around 6:30 in the morning on May 30 2012. Of course my luggage was overweight & that is an understatement. 2 rolling duffle bags, a backpacking backpack, a normal backpack, a pillow & blanket… my dad asked “where’s your teddy bear?”
Upon my arrival in San Francisco I quickly met another volunteer; naturally we both had A LOT of luggage. We made our way to another terminal where 9 other volunteers were waiting (pre-arranged on Facebook) and piled into 3 taxi cabs with taxi drivers who looked at with astonishment at our mass amount of luggage. A $50 cab ride and 45 minutes later we arrived at our hotel in Japan town. It was hard to miss the fellow volunteers all blue Peace Corps invitation packets in hand. Thanks to my mom my Peace Corps paperwork was perfectly completed and I even received a sweet Peace Corps lanyard as a reward! I had almost 2 hours to kill before our next piece of registration begun which I was so appreciative for considering the 1 whole hour of sleep (nightmares about overweight luggage included) I had the night before. Our next 5 hours were spent learning further about Peace Corps expectations, security, safety and even a few skits thrown in there for good measure.
I totally lucked out with a hotel room & a king size bed to myself in SF which was the last comfy bed I’ve had for the last few days.
From SFO to Seoul Incheon Airport; it is not easy getting 70 people checked in for a flight, but eventually we made it through.
Naturally, I ended up with a middle seat on the flight, but it was definitely one of the more comfortable international flights I’ve flown. I sat with 2 fellow volunteers and a very friendly student on his way to Korea for a short-term study abroad program. The first 5 hours went by pretty quickly and the next 7 were manageable with a few bottles of wine, courtesy of United Airlines, and excellent company.
We had a 21 hour layover in Seoul which I won’t go into much detail other than I went into Seoul for about an hour and Incheon Airport is amazing.
Finally the last stretch! Seoul to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia! Out of all the people I could have sat next to it was a Mongolian woman from Seattle! We talked in length about Seattle & Mongolia, she taught me a few words in Mongolia, showed me pictures of her children and next thing the 4 hour flight was up. 3 different airports and 4 days later we finally made it!
We had the best welcome EVER arriving in Ulaanbaatar as we were cheered on by current Peace Corps Volunteers with signs & even one volunteer in a hot dog costume.