Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Peking Opera Photos part II

So I know I am trying to update my blog on my recent travels. So far we've only made it as far as the Seoul Incheon airport and more will come soon, but I got the professional photos from my Peking Opera session and they are just too awesome not to share. Enjoy!

I've learned that this character is called 贵妃醉酒 (gui fei zui jiu)

Friday, February 10, 2017

My favorite airport - Seoul Incheon

Recently, I took a vacation to Thailand and Hong Kong. I had been waiting to get some specific dates and locations for an exam that I needed to take so I couldn't book my trip until mid-December and since I was traveling during Chinese New Year that meant that my options for fly from Beijing to Phuket were more limited than if I had booked earlier. As a result, I knew that I would have to have a long layover. The Seoul Incheon airport has long been my favorite airport so I figured that my best bet was to take my layover in Seoul. I googled tours of Seoul and found transit tours out of Seoul Incheon and thought, "awesome, that's what I'm going to do." Unfortunately, I booked my flight into Gimpo and then out of Incheon and discovered when I got to Incheon that this made me inelligible for the transit tours, you have to fly both into and out of Seoul Incheon on the same day.
Nonetheles, I had a pretty good experience. When I boarded the plane in Beijing the flight attendants passed out landing documents. Two of the documents were trilingual (Korean, English and Chinese), but one of the documents was only in Korean. I couldn't even figure out what the document was. Without thinking, I asked the flight attendant what this document was in Chinese. She replied in English. I didn't realize it until the end of the conversation, but my whole side of the conversation was in Chinese and the flight attendant's was in English (being blonde people always assume, correctly of course, that I speak English). She told me it was a customs document and she would get me an English copy. A few minutes later she returned and told me they were out of English copies so
There was a man accompanying who took
pictures for people with their phones.
she had brought me a Chinese copy. Maybe I could read this one. I told her I could read it better than the Korean one. I did my best to read the document as was pretty proud that I figured the document out (later I found an English copy at the airport and filled it out again, but that's how I know I filled it out correctly). The document was written in Chinese, but I filled it out in English.
I landed in Seoul Gimpo and since the connecting flight was out of Seoul Incheon I had to go through quarantine inspection, passport control and customs. Quarantine was first. All of the documents I had filled out on the plane had asked for my address in Korea. Since I was leaving that evening, I didn't have one. I think I had written on the form, none and the woman at quarantine questioned me about this. I explained that I was transiting and at first she looked confused (I should have gone another way for transit passengers) until I explained my connecting flight was out of Incheon. After I explained, it
was no problem. She wrote something on my form in Korean and told me to continue. I always seem to pick the wrong line and with passport control that was no exception. I was one of the VERY last people to make it through passport control, but I wasn't in a hurry so it didn't matter. Customs was just a matter of turning in my form.
Now that I was officially admitted into Korea I exchanged a little bit of money, found the Airport Express train and took the train to the Seoul Incheon Airport without any trouble. When I got to Incheon I discovered that I couldn't take a transit tour and was saddened, but I did watch some Netflix in the airport (a big deal because China is one of the few countries without Netflix) and found a really good burger for lunch.
Beautiful classical music
After I went through security I discovered several really cool things. In addition to all the shops (Incheon has quite a collection including Prada, Gucci, Michael Kors and every other haute culture brand name you can think of) they had live music and this cool walk through the airport of people in historical costumes. Then I found this really cool free cultural event for foreigners. You got a choice of two traditional korean crafts. I made this art work with an interesting stamp. I can't really explain so I'll let the pictures do the talking on that one. It was funny though because as I was working I was speaking to the two women who were working my craft and I accidently let the paint thingie go and out of my mouth came, ”哎呀!“ (aiya - a Chinese sound that means oh no!, ahh! etc.). The two women were like, "you speak Chinese!" One of them spoke really well because she lived in China for nine years.
The paper was put down on this stamp like thing.
Then it was sprayed thoroughly with water.
After that, the excess water was blotted off.
After my arts and crafts, it should have been about time to board my flight, but there was a delay. During that delay I found a Victoria's Secret and was able to buy some of my favorite lotion using my Chinese bank card (this is significant because when I use my U.S. bank cards I have to pay exchange my money to U.S. dollars and transfer it to the U.S. and then pay the foreign transaction fee. Using my chinese bank card means I still have a foreign transaction fee, but not the transfer costs. I also can only exchange 70% of my salary so when I can use my Chinese accounts in a foreign country it is much appreciated - an not all that easy to do).
Then I was off to Thailand. My adventures in Thailand are coming in the next blog installment!

After the excess water was removed a hairbrush
was used to tap the paper down onto the stamp.

Next the thing in my hand had ink applied to
it from the one to my right. The excess ink was blotted
off on scrap paper and then I tapped it on the paper.
When the ink ran out one of the two women would
repeat this process.

The two women. There were also two stamp choices.
I'm making the one of the left and the one on
the right is the Korean alphabet.