Frog Does Taste Like Chicken

I am impressed.  This is the first time I’ve been here.  If there’s ever a place to endure an 11.5 hr layover, Incheon International Airport in Seoul tops the list. Ranked by Airports Council International as the #1 international airport each year since 2005, this clean, modern airport offers an abundance of free amenities, such as hot showers, movies, recliners and personal sleeping areas, tablet rentals.

Free loungers in the Rest and Relax Area

Free loungers in the Rest and Relax Area

Even the ladies rooms are impressive not only for their elegance but the quirky Asian OCD trappings like the Etiquette Bells (ambient noise machines in each stall), and the automated toilet seat liner replacement systems (at the press of a button the plastic cover on the seat rotates to a fresh section).

If I weren’t lazy I would venture outside the airport for the ice rink, casino, and golf course. But Customs has held me up a couple of times on this return leg and I’ve already lost a pair of scissors that my son used in kindergarten.

So I have a surplus of time to finish my family-sized lunch, a delicious artisan spicy beef tripe stew, and think back on the highlights of my trip. The name of my lunch might scare some people, but I like exploring new things.

In fact, the theme for this trip may be one of exploration and many Firsts.

While in Koa Lak I ate a deep fried Silk Worm (grub) for the first – and only – time.

In a small village outside of Chiang Mai I tried a curry made from frog. The entire frog, not just the legs.

Fried silkworm

Fried silkworm

It was my first time to see a lady-boy, to ride a bamboo raft down a southeast Asian river, to participate in the magnificent Yi Peng and Loy Kratong festival of lights in Chiang Mai.

It was my first time to volunteer at an orphanage. It was the first time I ever plopped a piece of pumpkin in a surprisingly bristly elephant’s mouth.

It was the first time I’ve ever tried moonshine made from fermented rice.

It was the first time I swam in the Indian ocean.

As the time nears for my final plane from Seoul to Seattle, I realize I’m having another first: it’s the first time I can look forward to coming home without feelings of dread about going back to work. There are no fires to extinguish, wounded egos to stroke, or fathoms of emails rise above.

Three weeks before I left for Thailand, I quit my job of eight years in corporate America. As a mother of a 12 year old, I know how quickly time can pass. But eight years in corporate America is more similar to two terms in the presidency with regard to how it can age you and make you lose sight of your values.

For the first time, the only thing I need to worry about is not crying too much when I meet my family at the airport. It’s been a month since I’ve been home. Water works here we come. Bring it on.

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