Seoul > Taipei > Singapore
I wasn’t sure if I should make a post out of this day, because it was mostly just traveling, but there were a few strange episodes during my journey to Singapore so I figured why not. Hope you enjoy! And look forward to more interesting Singapore posts to come!
My journey started on Thursday afternoon as I finished packing everything up and left my apartment to get on the bus to Daejeon Station.
The bus ride from my house to the station is quite far, about 45 minutes depending on how traffic is, but it meanders through lots of small neighborhoods and so I always enjoy looking out the window.
I arrived at the station, bought a water and a small snack like I always do, and boarded the train.
Despite the fact that all I had with me was a small carry on and my purse, it was an absolute nightmare trying to get myself from Seoul station to where I was meeting my friend at a cafe about 4 stops away. Getting a suitcase through the subway turnstiles is not an easy feat let me tell you.
Either way I finally met up with her in a cool cafe and we studied there for a while.
I had a bit of a headache at that point and for some reason whenever I’m sick here I always crave greasy American style food, and so we grabbed a hamburger and french fries in the area before heading back to her house.
As per usual I felt very refreshed by being back with this good friend.
The next morning was an early start. I woke up at 6:30, got ready, and was down at the bus station by 7:20ish. I waited there for just a little bit for the airport bus to arrive.
It came around 7:40 and then it was off to Incheon Airport to make my 10:35am flight.
There was a small incident on the bus which was a little out of the ordinary.
As we were driving I noticed a slightly odd smell but I just dismissed it as the air-conditioning. Sometime air-con has a weird smell to it, so I didn’t think much of it.
But when we pulled up to the stop at Gimpo Airport I could tell that there was something happening between our driver, one of the passenger in the back of the bus, and some of the staff outside. They were talking about something in a way that seemed a little more tense than normal. Then the bus driver walked towards the back of the bus and said something to the passenger.
When the passenger replied it was clear that he was either very old, not quite together mentally, or maybe a little bit intoxicated. Because I couldn’t exactly make out what they were saying, the details were unclear to me. The gist though, was that the man was supposed to get off here, but he didn’t want to.
Eventually I heard the bus driver say to the staff outside, “No no, you can just sit down. I’ll do it.” And the we headed off again. After a few minutes we pulled up to Gimpo’s domestic terminal and this time the driver was able to convince the old man to get off. As he walked past me to get off the bus I then realized where the smell had been coming from. He was very dirty, and I mean that as respectfully as possible. He was covered in dirt and had a large brown stain on the back of his pants that I’m not going to make any assumptions about.
But the bus driver was very kind, spoke to him very respectfully, and helped him off the bus. When the driver came back on he opened up all the windows in the back of the bus, sprayed something all over the man’s seat, and came around to each of us to ask if the smell was okay and apologize.
I appreciated the bus driver’s kindness towards the older man and I tried to show it as I told me that the smell was totally fine.
After that little episode we were off again towards Incheon.
When we finally arrived I grabbed some breakfast and a coffee then headed to my gate.
My first flight was from Incheon to Taipei.
When we landed, one of the flight attendants did the usual, “The local time is blah-blah-blah, the weather is blah-blah-blah, thank you for flying with us and we hope you enjoy your stay in China.”
I’m very aware of how much of an international political slip up that is, so I’m surprised that I didn’t notice it initially. It wasn’t until she got back on the intercom and said, “We’d like to revise our previous statement, we hope you enjoy your stay in Taiwan” that I realized what had happened. Mixing up China and Taiwan is not something you want to mess with. So I wonder if someone had said something before they announced the revision.
I had about an hour and a half to kill so I went down to my next gate and asked the man at the desk if it was correct just to make sure. His response was, “Yes, for now.” Which is both helpful and not at all helpful at the same time. But either way I sat down to wait for a bit.
They had free wifi so I messed around on my phone for a bit. I get stared at sometimes in Korea but it’s usually not too bad. Korea has enough foreigners that I’m not all that much of a novelty. But I was sitting in the gate for a flight that hadn’t yet left for Vietnam and I feel significantly more eyes on me than usual.
So the combination of being absorbed by my phone, and deliberately avoiding the prying eyes is probably why it took me a little while to realize that something strange was happening around me.
When I did eventually lift my eyes it was to slowly notice that tons, and I mean almost everyone around me, were handcuffed to each other. Pairs of people handcuffed to each other with no visible police around.
It was bizarre. I immediately felt like I was in the wrong place but I decided to sit anyway because so far they hadn’t announced any gate changes for my next flight.
After a little bit it came time for that flight to Hanoi to board and suddenly about half of the people stood up and got in line to board the plane, still handcuffed in pairs. Once all of them were in line I then noticed some people in uniforms, not police uniforms just like khaki’s and a blue polo, come around and start un-locking the handcuffs. There was nothing tense or sad about the whole scene, some of the people were even saying very friendly goodbye’s to the people who were un-locking the cuffs.
Once those people boarded the plane, the second group of handcuffed people got up, got in line, and had their handcuffs removed.
Eventually everyone had boarded the flight and somewhere in-between the first group getting up and the second group boarding I had pieced together what I thought was happening.
I think those people were being deported. Because of the lack of police presence it seems like they weren’t like “criminals” per se, but there was definitely something going on. Eventually some of the people in uniforms got close enough for me to read what was on their shirt.
“National Immigration Agency.”
I think my suspicions were correct.
Either way, trying to figure out what was going on certainly helped to pass the time and before I knew it, they announced our gate change and I headed off to board my next flight.
This flight was a little bit longer but they fed us and before I knew it we were landing in Singapore. It was about 7:15 when we touched down and by 7:40 I was through immigration and with my friend who I haven’t seen in about a year.
Our first stop was my hotel to drop off my bag and then it was off to meet her boyfriend for dinner.
My first meal in Singapore was from a local food court (as many of them would turn out to be.) Whoever says that visiting Singapore has to be expensive is just wrong.
Then we went for traditional Chinese deserts in a cool area that I was too tired to remember the name of.
The one in front of me had durian in it, so I finally got to taste the infamous smelly southeast asian fruit that everyone goes on and on about. The texture is definitely strange but because it was served with mango the taste just was like a really weird mango to me.
After that it was back to my hotel to rest up for our busy day tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!