The LAX airport is a madhouse. We arrive late Friday evening: 10:30 PM. Airports are funny places... especially an international hub like LAX. Our flight to Incheon/Seoul leaves at 1:30 in the morning. Who leaves at 1:30 in the morning?
The several hours we have at LAX turns into a rush through exchanging terminals (existing security). I am also trying to re-book tickets so I can spend a few extra days in Incheon on the way back. I was born in Incheon and still have family on both sides of my family.
I trek through the passenger pickup area amid tired and baggage-laden travelers to make my way to Tom Bradley. Exhaust fumes mix honks from drivers looking for their late-night arrivals. Strollers and shoes make it hard for me to move in straight lines. I find my way to the Korean Airlines counter. We were told in Houston that even though we have boarding passes that take us all the way to Tianjin, China, we should re-check in once we arrive in LAX.
I try my Korean. I'll need it in a few days when I arrive in Incheon on the way back. I am able to get new boarding passes and get my ticket changed.
The flight is pleasant; I sleep. My row-mate is from Beijing, now living in LA. She travels to South Korea often for her work, staying weeks at a time. She tells me that during the last visit, she visited Beijing over the weekend. "I couldn't talk for the first day," she explains, "the pollution is that bad." She asks me where I am headed. "Tianjin".
Tianjin is an hour outside of Beijing, serving as the primary port. "Oh," she says with a apologetic smile. "Tianjin should be worse".
The plane starts the descent procedures. It is early morning in Korea, the "land of the morning calm". I look out the window. It does look calm. It's beautiful. It's the first time I see Korea in almost 20 years.
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