Shanghai via Seoul

Merry Christmas everybody! Earlier tonight, as we were having dinner I had a realisation that on this day ten years ago, we were departing on a two-week holiday to China; our first international trip together. We’d initially gone to the student travel agency to enquire about a Thailand tour to coincide with my two weeks off from college, but left having booked tickets and a 10-day China Express tour. I resigned from my supermarket job of five years, and on December 24, 2007, worked my last ever shift.

The following day our Korean Air flight departed for Seoul, where we would board our connecting flight to Shanghai. Exhausted after my last work shift, Christmas Eve celebrations and then packing into the night, I slept through the early part of the flight, waking in time to watch Korean film The Happy Life, and then High School Musical 2 on the communal screen.

This flight sparked my love for the Korean dish bibimbap, which was one of the dinner options. A seat neighbour and an instruction sheet helped us assemble our dish, and I had it many more times upon my return to Sydney.

The flight took a sour turn towards the end when, during a barely audible announcement in Korean, I heard the words ‘lavatory’ and ‘there is a bomb’. We landed at Seoul to the sight of many blinking lights as trucks, vans and all sorts of emergency vehicles surrounded our plane. Somebody had written “there is a bomb” on the bathroom toilets, and so we were welcomed to the country by the SWAT team, bomb squad and all sorts of important-looking people.

After at least an hour trapped inside the plane in the safety section of the airport, the threat was discovered to be a hoax, the culprit apprehended and we were taken by bus to the terminal, which was unfortunately nowhere near the terminal for our connecting flight. We ran as fast as our short legs could carry us through what seemed to be the biggest airport that ever existed, as they called what resembled our names over the PA, and we made the connecting flight with 5 minutes to spare. Our luggage didn’t.

Our connecting flight to Shanghai was incident (and passenger) free, although the desserts were questionable. The pudding looked exactly like flan, but had a bitter taste, which was not helped by the sweet and sour sauce that came with it. We took a photo of the labels and it is only recently, thanks to Google Translate’s photo function, that I’ve realised that it was not a dessert at all, but some sort of savoury tofu pudding.

We finally arrived at our hotel after filling out numerous Lost Property forms at the airport and then locating our transfer. Despite being famished, however, our exhaustion after a big day, the cold weather and late hour deterred us, and we stayed in the hotel, excited about what our first day in Shanghai would bring.

Shanghai in 2007
Shanghai in 2007

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