Saturday, 20 February 2016

4 Days to Go and the Excitement is Palpable!

I got a text from the Korean Association for Children with Leukemia and Cancer (KACLC) the other day.  KACLC is the charity that I sent my hair too after it got chopped off in the pub on January 30th.  The text message was in Korean so I translated it.  Google translate is notorious for its dubious Korean-English translations and I think my text message may have suffered!  It translated the message as follows: "Guardian cherub! Thank you! Your hair has been well received in the Association."  I was pretty chuffed to be called a guardian cherub mind you!

Text Message from KACLC

The text came on the same day we went to Seoul to collect out passports from the Chinese Visa Agency.  We had everything crossed we'd be given the 90 days we'd asked for, and secretly pretty hopeful not having heard anything from them since the day we applied.  We had prepared ourselves for a long day of queuing and waiting but when we got there, there was no one else waiting so we were seen immediately.  Without any fuss the girl handed over our two passports and asked us to check them. 90 Days. Bingo! We handed over 55,000won each (about €40) for the privilege and went on our merry way! Delighted!  

Wohoo! Chinese Visa's are Go!

To celebrate the first real step towards hitting the road we decided to go for lunch and a few beers!  Before lunch I popped into Innisfree (a Korean cosmetics chain, similar to The Body Shop) to buy a few things and while I was in there I bumped into a guy, Sam, that we'd worked with in our first year here in Daejeon.  Given that we were in Seoul, a city with over 15 million people in it, and that we were over 140km away from where we'd met originally, it only added to the excitement of the day, feeling very much as if our time here in Korea has come full circle and that the timing to head off couldn't be more perfect.

The two of us and Sam after our random meeting in Gangnam!

As well as going to Seoul to collect our passports, this week has been spent furiously packing up our apartment.  Separating things into different groups: stuff to be given away; stuff to ship home; stuff to pack onto our bikes; stuff to sell and various miscellaneous piles when we just weren't sure what category to fit it into! The place looks like a bomb went off but it's pretty organised chaos, at least to our eyes it is!  We are planning on meeting a few friends tonight for some farewell drinks and general banter and we're hoping to have everything more or less done by then.

Just some of the clothes, shoes and household items that we've donated over the last few days!

We spent the guts of yesterday afternoon in the post office, sending things back home (thanks Mum for providing the storage space!).  A friend with a car very kindly offered us a lift down, and thank god he did because I really don't know how we would've done it without him.

2 bikes, 4 boxes of 'stuff', one box of spare tyres (!) and a poster tube!

Nick's in the middle of plotting our route up to Incheon now as I type, and then after a bit of lunch, we'll hopefully get the last few things packed into our panniers.  Then we can switch off and enjoy the last couple of days without rushing around like mad lunatics.  Now that our departure date is so close, it's very hard to describe how we're feeling.  We're oscillation between disbelief and excitement  for the most part, with the odd moment of panic on my behalf when the thoughts of cycling up those Pamir mountains come to mind.  They are months off though, and I'll be fitter then and more able for them.  That's what I'm telling myself anyway!