Speaking of tasty Korean dishes, I got a chance to see the cookbook that I had edited years earlier. Published by The Korea Food Tourism Association, the book details 300 traditional Korean recipes in four major languages. Don't get your hopes up though; even though Joo and I translated everything into English, you won't get very far unless you can distinguish between 20 different types of seaweed.
For our final meal in Korea, we went to Changmonim's favorite restaurant. It involved soaking crisp rice sheets into a beet juice until they softened, and then filling them with shredded veggies and tabletop-roasted pork and beef slices. Apparently it was a Mongolian restaurant, but I never saw food like that in Mongolia (my memories of Mongolian food are fraught with fermented horse yogurt and something else that I'd rather not detail here).
After the meal, we went out for ice cream where the 12-hour long sobbing goodbyes began. Even though most of the tears weren't specifically shed because people would be missing each other, it did make me question momentarily whether Joo was okay living in a country far away from her relatives (we had a long discussion later and she heartily assured me that she really does prefer living in the US).
Then, an early morning bus ride to the airport. Little did we realize that the brooding skies overhead would soon unleash a torrential downpour that would claim at least 50 lives and put half of Seoul underwater.
Incheon to Tokyo was relatively uneventful. Our bigger surprise came when we were getting ready to board our 13-hour flight across the Pacific. We got called up to the desk and asked for our boarding passes. They switched them around and when we looked to check the new ones, this is what we saw:
Yeah baby. Gotta love overbookings. We had gotten bumped up to First Class once before on our flight down to Peru, but that was a much shorter flight and certainly less deluxe arrangements. On this flight, it took us about the whole 13 hours just to try all the different seat positions.
After some pre-flight drinks, and a bowl of toasted mixed nuts, we were given our menus which included the pictures of three nationally-famous chefs who were responsible for preparing our meals.
After the appetizers came the first course - a sushi selection, fresh roll, and a salad with creamy Asian dressing.
There were four options for the main dish - one is shown at the beginning of the blog - another was some fancy form of chicken. Luckily, Joo's culinary experience enabled her to translate all the fancy cooking terms for me.
Gourmet midnight snacks were available throughout the night, and the morning spread looked like this. Who says airline food isn't good???
Perhaps one of the nicest parts of the flight was the Noise Reduction Bose headphones that our personal stewardesses passed out (they knew and called each of us by name). You never really realize how loud an airplane is until you suddenly dampen out all the noise. Despite her emotional turmoil, Joo conked out the instant she put the headphones on. I, on the other hand, watched four recent releases and then meditated for a bit with my seat in a fully horizontal position.
After returning, I experienced something odd... let's call it jet propulsion (the opposite of jetlag). For the next five days, I had an abundance of energy and only slept an average of four hours a day. I'm not sure what that was all about, but it finally died down and I'm back on my normal schedule again. Home sweet home. :)