Today: Fred gets a call from Korea – but not one that is promising




Cast of characters
















Fred’s visa had been approved.




Several days later he arrived at South Korea’s international airport near Seoul.




It was August 15 at 2 pm – Korean Independence Day; a national holiday.




Hobbling and stiff from the 11-hour flight from L.A., he retrieved his big red hockey bag of clothes off the luggage carousel.




Then he coolly moseyed through the terminal to avoid looking like he didn’t know where the hell he was going.




* Is Fred comfortable in Korea? *




When he came to a dead end at the far wall, he casually observed a couple of uniformed U.S. Army soldiers expediently heading off the other way.




He followed them, staying far enough back to remain inconspicuous.




It didn’t work.




The two kept looking back, thinking they were being followed.




One finally stopped.




“You lost buddy? You’ve got that-deer-in-the-headlights look.”




They pointed out a nearby ticket counter and a series of gleaming escalators heading down into the subway system.




They informed Fred that he’d have to commute via subway about 45 minutes to the local airport.




Once on the train, Fred finally started to relax.





He got to the local airport in good time.




In fact, he had about an hour to kill before his local flight.




And he was going to make the best of it.




Tired of being cooped-up in planes and airports, he burst out of the terminal building to walk around on the hilly, grassy terrain outside.




The sun was blazing down and the air was thick and muggy.




It was the tail end of the monsoon, where several days’ torrential rains are followed by sauna-like humidity as the sun burns off the moisture.




With his hockey bag slung over his back, Fred jaunted up and down numerous grassy knolls, perspiring heavily even with shorts and a T-shirt on.




Half way around the loop he sat down on the lawn in the shade to get a breather.




“Wow,” he said soaking up the surrounding scenery.




“I made it to Korea.”




* Are Korean crosswalks like Canadian ones? *




He continued up the rest of the hill to a crosswalk, which traversed an eight-lane road running in front of the main terminal.




Taxis blurred by like bullets.




Fred stepped out onto the pedestrian zebra, assuming the cabs would yield.




Six steps across, though, and out of nowhere a taxi bombed by blaring its horn.




Fortunately Fred’s reflexes were sharp and he instantaneously recoiled, yet the close call left him breathless.




He’d just gotten his first local lesson in living Korean culture.




The terminal was crowded and the queues were lengthy.




Fred politely went to the back of the line but new people were coming in and butting in, oblivious to him.




He wanted to avoid confrontation but didn’t want to miss the flight.




A slight panic attack set in and Fred deemed it was time for a lifeline.




He stepped out of the queue and approached an elderly Korean man standing nearby.




“Sir, help me, help me.”




He waved his ticket frantically in the air.




* Is Fred’s cry for help effective? *




The concerned elder seized the stub and read it closely.




Then he grabbed the foreigner’s arm and took him past everyone else right up to the ticket window.




Fred thought he could feel eyes all over him but when he dared to look around, no one else in the line objected.




He instantly got his boarding pass.




He thanked the old man profusely.




The old man profusely waved him off and shooed him away.




Thirty minutes to flight time. He checked-in his hockey bag but held back going into the secure area.




His stomach was growling angrily and who knows how long it would be until he could get some eats?




No longer burdened by the awkward luggage, he sniffed out the airport cafeteria upstairs.




The uniformed older women serving up the food from behind a big stainless steel counter were instantly distracted by his appearance and began gossiping and chuckling.








Tomorrow: Fred explores the local airport and takes his second flight.