So far, 2023 has been quite a tumultuous year for me. I started this year with a decent backpacking trip, but I have not been able to do much travelling since. One of my favourite artists (Rodríguez) had died and I also graduated from uni. In the last month of this year, I’ve been able to do what I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember – leave the UK and live in another country.
With bad news constantly being churned out, a cost of living crisis and depressing weather. I wanted nothing more than to leave the UK, much like Billy Hayes living through hell in prison and eventually finding a way to escape. I called my plan to leave the UK my ‘Midnight Express.’
Getting my Visa on my Birthday
Jumping through all of the hoops of finding a job and sending off my documents for my visa finally paid off. When I got out of bed on my birthday, the doorbell rang and somehow I just knew it was a courier with my passport in a parcel. I was right and it was just what I wanted for my birthday.
Getting Ready to Move
It was then decided that the day I would leave the would be the 5th of December. That gave me less than a week to sort everything out to get ready for moving away. Just my luck that two days after my birthday, I woke up with a sore throat and had to deal with a brutal flu. I organised with my friends on the Saturday to go out for drinks one last time in which I was grateful that we were able to meet up at such a short notice.
I spent Sunday having a rest, playing my Xbox and I started to pack my stuff into my backpack. On Monday, by some kind of miracle I was over the worst of my flu and went into Edinburgh to buy a few things I needed. Then came the day…
When I was looking at flights less than a week in advance, I was surprised that the price was not bad at all. Of course flying on a Tuesday equals much lower fares and it only cost about £500 for a flight across the world. I got this deal with Turkish Airlines, which pleased me as I had good memories flying with them during a trip to Istanbul when I was younger.
The Midnight Express – 20 Hours of Travel
The journey consisted of a four hour flight from Edinburgh to Istanbul and then 9 hours over to Incheon Airport. I thought it was quite poetic that I was having a layover in Istanbul as I was referring to this journey as my Midnight Express out of the UK.
This first leg of the journey went rather smoothly and I could not complain at all. I thought it was great that I could watch a movie on a relatively short flight. However, I would mention that it felt like the quality of the food had dipped since the last time I was on a Turkish Airlines flight. That time, all the passengers were given free Turkish delight, but this time the food was just like on every other flight.
A Quick Layover in Istanbul Airport
If you know anything about Istanbul, you know it’s massive and from what I saw, the airport was very well run. What really surprised me was seeing the departures board and how many far-flung places there were. Places that I’d love to go on backpacking adventures in such as Baku and Algiers. There were even flights going to cities in Afghanistan and Somalia which I completely did not expect.
During my two hours here, I didn’t buy anything to be frugal and thankfully there were free water fountains. What I noticed was that inflation has hit Turkey like a ton of Bricks. Back when I visited Istanbul in 2015, it 5 Lira was a quid and seeing that a chocolate bar is around 100 Lira, things have very clearly changed.
Turkish Airlines – an Inch from Incheon
After my gate was announced, I was ready for my next flight. Amusingly, I half-thought that everyone would be hauled onto a bus to get to the plane and searched by intimidating police officers. I need to remember that films do not reflect reality.
The second leg of the journey was fine, but I actively despise long haul flights. Luckily no-one was sitting behind me so I could recline as much as I wanted to. I watched a couple of films and there were even TV channels so I could see the Premier League scores. I never bother to sleep on overnight flights as I can never get myself into a comfortable position.
Landing in South Korea
When the plane lands, it’s always a question of when you can actually get off and be on your way. I was into the arrivals hall in a flash and it only took about 10 minutes to get my luggage. I had my luggage on a cart and was told I could just leave it around unattended as Korea is such a safe country. Doing this in a any other country would land you in serious trouble, so I was shocked that this was the done thing here.
The Final Leg – Taking a Limousine Bus
So I got out of the airport at just after 7PM, however I had to wait at the bus stop until half past 8. Thankfully, the bus stop was just outside of the arrival hall, so I did not have to do much walking. My bus finally came and it was a comfortable 4 hour journey to Changwon.
A limousine bus sounds like an interesting concept, although the only difference really is that the seat is much more comfortable. There was also decent wifi which was a big plus. I arrived at Changwon bus station at half past midnight. I was exhausted, but was shown to my flat and headed straight to bed.
Breakfast in Korea
The next morning, I had some gimbap rolls that were left for me in the fridge. It was the first time I had ever eaten gimbap which is essentially the Korean version of sushi. This concludes my post here and I’m grateful if you have read through this post. I have so much to share about my experience in this amazing country. You should expect this blog to cover a lot about living here going forward.