The 13-hour flight from Seoul to Washington DC was not as agonising as I thought it would be, albeit some unexpected tearful events caused by Letters to Juliet, Cairo Time, Mother and Child and shamefully, Toy Story 3. After all, it must be difficult for a 17 year-old boy to give up his toys on the day he drives to college.
Going past immigration in Washington DC was a breeze. Thanks to Kristin, our Programme Coordinator in Washington DC, who prepared us well with our paper work prior to departure. It must had been a feat to sort out all the necessary documents for 11 delegates coming from three separate destinations. Yet, she did it with ease and grace.
After waiting for quite awhile for our luggages, we were promptly greeted by Kristin at the arrival gate. It was great to finally meet her in person and she is definitely much younger than how I had imagined her to be. She took to the task of organising us quickly and was rather apologetic for subscribing to the American cliché of driving a super large SUV, which was not superfluous in this context at all.
Although it’s seasonably autumn, the foliage surrounding the city is still green. According to Kristin, we can expect to see the leaves slowly turning yellow and orange in the next couple of weeks. Traffic was clear since it’s a Sunday and we had a pleasant drive through the city.
We arrived at Clubs Quarter Hotel at around 1:30pm and by 2pm, Rajiv (one of the Malaysian delegates) and I hit the city on foot. The weather was just perfect for a lovely stroll along the quiet city which has been largely abandoned by its inhabitants during the weekend.
We walked to the White House which is only two blocks away and was surprised to find the compound so accessible to the public; not to far away from the main public road. It is also much smaller than what we had both imagined. We were very pleased when Kristin announced that we’ll be given a night tour of the West Wing some time next week before we leave for our fellowship.
We walked for 2 1/2 hours and during which, embraced the American culture twice! We bought hot dogs from a street vendor and coffee from Starbucks. Rajiv took the opportunity to give me some lessons on AT&T and T-Mobile pre-paid phone packages for short-term visitors. For the price of USD60, one can get a Samsung phone with USD30 credit!
Later tonight, we all met up for dinner at an Asian-fusion restaurant just around the corner of the hotel. It was great meeting up with the Indonesian and Philippines delegations. We were all in good spirit despite the long and exhausting journey. There’ll be time for getting to know each other but for now, it’s time to get some sleep.
Good night, all!
Pictures below: These pictures were taken outside the White House. There was an elderly woman who was seen standing alone at an anti-nuclear weapon and anti-Israeli demonstration site. The bearded man beneath was sitting on the curb facing the White House. He was waving his arms around in some kind of slow rhythmic motion while reciting something in silence. At a closer glance, he wore a shirt with the Islamic Syahadat on the back.