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September 2007
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October 2007

Glad in Vlad

Snowdude i landed at vladivostok airport friday afternoon on the 19th.  the weather was building up into what would later be the first big snow fall for the season.  and i arrived just under the wire as the sleet was changing into flakes by the time i got my foot through my front door.

a couple days before, i had woken up at my folks for the last morning of my home leave.  having said my goodbyes to my sis, b-in law, and niece, i prepared for the almost 3 hour drive to Des Moines with my folks and brother.  it's always the toughest time for all and doesn't get any easier.  as a matter of fact it probably gets tougher since we all know it will be the another stretch before we see each other again.  we arrived in des moines early wed morning. hugs and goodbyes were given to each other at the airport curbside.  and i made my way in to catch the flight to chicago.

from liftoff to landing everything was uneventful, aside from the strong  memories of home still reminding me what i was leaving behind. i caught the connecting flight to seoul and settled in for 14hrs of movies, food and sleep. although, i did have a friendly korean woman as a neighbor that wanted to chat for quite awhile.  i think we talked until the first meal was served.  normally i don't mind a visit, but after a bit, all i wanted to do was have a little quiet time and think about my family.

i landed in seoul and knew i had to find a place for the night due to the next available flight to vladivostok leavings early the next day.  i didn't realize it at the time but there's a hotel right inside where you can get a room.  i ended up getting some tips from a hotel info booth and found myself on a shuttle van to a little place called "winners hotel".  i was the only occupant in the van so i ended up talking to the driver. his english was better than my korean, and since i only know how to say hello he had me beat easily .

my hotel room was clean and close to the airport and that's all i cared about.  all i wanted to do was crash for the night.   i tried watching a little tv but unfortunately the room came with a massive plasma screen that had seen better days.  the colors were so distorted it looked like everyone was in a really bad color print comic book .  i made due and took the time to send out some emails.

the next morning, i headed to the airport and found myself in the shuttle van, surrounded now by a family of 8 that i'm still trying to figure out from where.  they did what all families do and that was talk all at once, except in their native language.  i just smiled and dug out a book to pass the time. 

once i arrived at the airport, i checked my bags and made a bee line to the business class lounge, where i promptly gorged myself on breakfast. after that, i enjoyed a few cups of coffee while reading the master and margarita by mikhail bulgakov.  then it was off to catch the plane for my last leg to my future home for the next few years, vladivostok.

and that brings me back to where i started.  i got off the plane and could tell there were only a couple other americans with me.  the rain was coming down hard now and we all crammed into a airport shuttle bus to get to the arrival terminal.  i was on my own, as usual, as i went through the customs line.  no difficulties were experienced and i have to say getting my russian visa and dealing with customs was the easiest i've had in all my tours. my sponser and a driver picked me up after i made it through the baggage claim. we hopped in the consulate vehicle and made our way back to the city.  i had a nice chat with L, my sponser, as we had a 1/2 hour trip in front of us.  along the way we stopped at the neighborhood grocery that's about 15 min by foot from the townhouses.  i got my first taste of public life in russia as L took me down each aisle and pointed out different things that might be good to try or stock up on for the weekend. L bought my groceries for me since i was without local currency until i could get to an atm or exchange. 

after we arrived at the townhouses, i met C who takes care of our abodes.  he was sorry to report there was a surprise leak in my bedroom but was following up on it to make sure it didn't get any worse before it could be repaired.  i didn't mind and was just glad to finally make it after the long trip.  i keep thinking back to when i packed out in sydney during the end of august.  i've been living out of two suitcases for over two months now. 

they left me to get settled and i unpacked my things, did a quick survey of the house and made sure i had everyones number.  L and her husband D, invited me over for a bite to eat later that night.  C was planning on having folks over to watch a movie, but as we all piled into a car we discovered the snow was coming down heavy and not letting up.  the movie night was cancelled and those of us at the townhouses got together just to chat and make sure the new guy (me) was normal.   j/k.

so that's the deal so far. i'm behind on my blog but wanted to let you see what a transfer amounts to from one post to another.  i'll have more entries soon as vladivostok appears to be a larger city than i realized and getting out and exploring will surely be some type of adventure worth recording.