The digital and actual paperwork is through, and we are officially (going to be) On Our Way! To Korea. Again.
After a few days of convenient weekend getting in the way of actually telling the agency we got our visas, I woke up this morning to a +82 number shouting out of my phone. A very friendly Korean lady tells my bleary and underwear-clad self that our flights have been confirmed, and that we’d better get the hell out of Blighty by 9:25 tomorrow morning (note: some paraphrasing). It’s now 3:30pm the same day, and the living room is a chaotic sea of cables, slippers and knickers – which, on a normal day, might be less stressful.
In a fit of self-indulgence, and because the caffeine’s worn off, I’m using an ill-earned break to remind Future Me what he actually needs to bring with him when he has to carry his entire life abroad for a year, having already decided against a good percentage of my original booty for the sake of packing. As English expats, we get but a single suitcase to take in the plane’s hold (I gather some of our more fortunate Western colleagues get two bags, which doesn’t fill us with murderous jealousy one bit).
My personal haul is as follows:
A whole bunch a’ clothes – which, owing to the fact that Korea actually has seasons (and how) have to be suitable for both blizzards and heatwaves. As such, I have socks ranging from itty-bitty trainer things up to inch-thick Chewbacca feet protectors, and jackets to match:
Day-to-day Zombie Apocalypse messenger bag for all situations – for when I have no idea what I’m doing (ie. most days) and need to know that I’ll have something to do wherever I am. Pictured:
1 – my beloved Scaramanga Leather bag, worn smooth by bashing into my backside for a few years
2 – my wallet, feigning wealth by cramming itself full of receipts from the last decade or so
3 – the single reliably living USB drive I own; a novelty DSLR keyring thing
4 – one pair of abused sunglasses, carrying on the accidental ‘brown’ theme
5 – Meg’s old iPod (so-named Orangensaft), thieved from her while she wasn’t looking
6 – my iPhone 4; not actually as battered as it looks thanks to the invincible case (given to me in Korea last time by a very, very generous Hailey)
7 – because I’m lacking brown leather things, one notebook for ‘ideas’ (ie. surprisingly violent stick-men doodles and bad Hangeul attempts)
8 – my trusty Victorinox penknife, which will NOT be going in my hand luggage (note to self)
9 – iPhone/iPad charger, for when I just can’t get enough Angry Birds in one day
10 – a battered Zippo lighter, because shiny
11 – SD card reader for my iPad, for when I have to impress people in coffee shops with my incredible artistic ability
12 – Amazon Kindle ebook reader; my phone has about 8 hours’ battery life but this baby has 8 weeks on it. Used to give the impression of intellectualism while reading Terry Pratchett in secret
13 – iPad; slightly douchetastic but 100% essential if I’m running the risk of actually making conversation with people on long journeys
14 – Canon Powershot G15, my backup baby when it’s far too silly to carry an SLR about the place. Good for stalking friends when they don’t realise it.
And, last but not egotistically least, the ever-present and indispensible camera gear. Very sad to be leaving the battery grip and flash triggers behind for a year, but streamlining must occur somewhere and I’m already down to a single pair of underwear for the year (colleagues-to-be: this is not actually true, please don’t avoid me in the corridor).
1 – personalised wrist-strap (an alternative to a neck strap for more acrobatic shots), as given by my headteacher Eric last year which I love with all my heart
2 – Canon Speedlite 430EXII; a VERY nice flash irresponsibly gifted to me by my overly generous mother
3 – an all-rounder, slightly antiquated 28-105mm f/3.5 lens, with the slightest of chips in the glass from when I nearly fell down a bloody mountain last year
4 – one variable Neural Density (ND) filter for landscape/sky shots
5 – a slightly tackily-packaged lens cloth I forgot I bought in Korea last year
6 – my beloved 10-22mm f/3.5 lens for when I have to stalk everything in the room in the same moment
7 – one long-loved Canon EOS 60D, which I couldn’t possibly love more if it were my child
8 – the aforementioned backup Canon G15, because it IS a camera after all
9 – after much deliberating, the most practical of my camera bags to bring; the straps don’t really work but it IS stylish
So, now I’ve publicly stated exactly how pickpocketable I am for the coming few days, I’ll get back on with actually packing. One 4-5am wake-up call and an 18-hour journey to go, and we’ll be jetlagged and confused in Namyangju for a few recuperative days before travelling to the uncharted territory of Gwangju.
Faintly interesting exploits to follow – if you’re really lucky, I’ll get Meg to take a photo of my uncomfrotably pretzel-like form as I sleep ignominiously on the plane.