You will no doubt be relieved to know that this is the final part of the saga.
I was awake at 4.45am on Thursday 27th September our last day in Korea. It was not necessary to get up until 6am but somehow when you are older the anxious button kicks in and you wake up way ahead of the alarm. Guy also was up on time and we leisurely took our reserved seats on the 7.40am train from Busan to Seoul (Guy was due back at work at lunch time). Fantastic service, in a modern train. John said that the train clocked 300kmph (there was a visual display) and I didn't feel any movement, hence I was snapping pictures of the countryside as we went along. It was scheduled to arrive at Seoul at 10.27 and it duely did to the minute.
We said our sad goodbyes to Guy as we don't expect to see him again for about a year (although he has pledged to contact us every week - watch this space). Our first problem was whether we would be able to park the two large cases for the day and then be able to enjoy our last day in Seoul. Yes we could. With assitance from a nice little man we were able to operate the depositaries locking system. Next job check the whereabouts of ATMs to ensure that we could get some money if necessary when we returned to collect our cases. We were directed to cash machines taking Visa etc by the tourist office. We spent a lovely day in the ancient palaces and Botanical gardens and watching old men playing board games in the park.
We finished with a nice meal which I finally succeeded in eating with chopsticks.
Feeling replete, we sat recovering from our meal and all of a sudden the rather loud "background" music began to play an upbeat version of the Planet Suite, in particular the movement that the hymn "I vow to thee my country" is set to. We had this hymn at our wedding and we have always considered this " our piece of music". What a coincidence.
We were totally at peace with the world and then disaster struck. We went back to the station to collect our cases and replenish the money...... and low and behold the Korean ATMs would again not accept our cards. Lots of swearing about call centres who had assured us that we could use our cards in Korea, followed by lots of running around like headless chickens trying anything we could think of to obtain some money. Things were desperate as we only had about £2, nowhere near enough to get the bus to the airport and 3 hours to sort it out!. By this time all Banks were closed and time was ticking away towards our flight take off time. I decided that desperate measures were required and the information desk kindly let me use their phone to call the Embassy, which of course by this time was closed. The recorded message gave the telephone number for the consular duty officer but in my heightened state of panic I was not organised to write it down so had to go through the whole procedure again. I eventually got through to the duty officer who was not convinced that this was a real emergency and that I had tried every option. I soon put him right!
I knew that Embassies do lend British citizens money in emergencies because years ago it was my job to collect this money back from errant travellers when they returned to the UK. I dropped this into the conversation and he agreed to meet us at the next subway station (we had just enough money for one stop). Look out for a european in a grey suit with a pink tie at exit 3 he said, we found the colour blind diplomat, who was wearing a black suit with a lilac tie. He was a really nice young man, introducing us to his Korean wife and then braving the monsoon conditions to take John to an ATM that he hoped would cough up. Eureka it did. He had told John that the Foreign Office do not consider this an emergency and he was going to lend us the money out of his own pocket if the machine had not worked. So things have changed in 35 years! He then escorted us to the bus stop carrying my case for me - I bet the Foreign Office do not know that they are paying him all that money to be a porter. I may be being facetious now but I cannot tell you how thankful we were for his help. You may be wondering why we could not contact Guy, a) I do not have his work telephone number or address and b) I knew that he was working late catching up on some reports, so by the time we could have contacted him our plane would have gone.
When we reached the airport we had calmed down. The nice booking in clerk must have decided that we looked poor old folk who needed a good night's sleep so he gave us seats by the emergency exit as he said we would have more room. It was a dreadful seat, right by the galley with lights shining and trollies clanking all night - result no sleep. We arrived at Dubai at 5am when it was 30 degrees C. We thought it had been busy at 3am but it was "heaving". Just about every nationality on the face of the earth was there. John soon slipped into Victor Meldrew mode, maintaining that he had never had to queue for a pee in his life - lucky him. He gave up in disgust the first time but soon realised that all the many toilets were the same.
No more crises (except me developing a pouring cold - poor man who sat next to me, I was either disturbing him to go to the loo or spluttering all over him) until we were about to land at Manchester. We were approximately 300 feet from the runway and all of a sudden the pilot aborted the landing. It seemed an age before he announced that the plane that had landed just in front of us had burst a tyre and there was debris all over the runway.
We again stayed overnight at the 5 star facilities provided by Paul and Jennifer before flying back to Limoge on Saturday the 29th October. Our holiday was finished off in style by Flybe providing us with our own personal plane - well that is a bit of an exaggeration, there were 8 other passengers and more crew than clients.
A bit of an adventure eh!!