I am venturing outside of the country for the first time in a dozen years.
It’s mostly stupidity on my part that has kept me from traveling outside of the United States for so long. Up until about six years ago I was a citizen of South Korea, with an expired passport. I didn’t bother renewing my Korean passport because I had applied for US citizenship. And then when I became a naturalized US citizen I stupidly lost my naturalization papers, so I couldn’t apply for a passport. I finally got a new set of naturalization papers and got my passport last year, so I’ve been aching to travel since then.
There are so many places I want to go. All the major touristy cities in Europe: Rome, Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid, (and many more). And there’s also visiting friends in Asia: Singapore, Pusan (Korea), Nagoya (Japan), Shenzhen (China). And then there’s the random bucket list items: scuba diving the great barrier reef (Australia), hiking to the summit of Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), photographing Machu Picchu (Peru).
During the time when I didn’t have my passport I missed out on many opportunities to travel with friends. So when I got my passport I made up my mind that if I had the opportunity to travel with friends I’d make every opportunity to try to go.
And so that is how I found myself on my way to Prague. My friend Jack planned a last minute trip there. I’m in the middle of some projects, and besides, asking for almost two weeks off with just one week’s notice is kind of an audacious thing to do. So I asked for the time off, thinking my request would be rejected. But my boss said yes. I booked my tickets almost immediately afterwards.
The trip began with a short flight to Los Angeles from Sacramento. The plane for this trip was tiny. The good thing about these tiny planes is that there are no really crappy seats– every seat is either an aisle seat or a window seat.
The terminal that these tiny planes fly into at LAX is really crowded and everyone’s moving around really quickly. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait here, I took the shuttle bus to one of the international terminals. It was much nicer there.
From LAX I flew into LHR (London Heathrow). I always thought of Britain as a predominantly white city, but it seemed, from the airport at least, that I was wrong. It was really multi-cultural, and they even had a Chinese New Year celebration.
From London Heathrow it was a relatively short flight into Prague. My first meal in Prague was at a McDonalds. Not my first choice, but nothing else was open, and I needed to break my large bills to take the bus. At least they had some interesting stuff. I never expected to be eating shrimp at a Mickey D’s…
In general I don’t really worry about a lot of stuff. But if there was one thing I was worried about on this trip, it was getting to the hotel that Jack had booked. My flight landed pretty late at night, and I had to take a bus and a subway to get to the hotel. I had read that the subway stations could be unsafe at night, but when I arrived I found that there were plenty of police patrolling the stations, which eased my worries.