Arriving in Korea Part I: Turumi Lodge Is Not Too Roomy

Nine days before departing for South Korea (대한민국), we left our home in Idaho and moved into base lodging. There were too many tasks to complete before the ‘For Sale’ sign was plunged into the front lawn. Painting, small fixes, and a new carpet installed while the movers packed things up for either storage or shipment. Family Lodging in Idaho spoiled me, because I was expecting the same on the other end of the journey.

Sorry that I can’t provide pix of Turumi Lodge. Photography on US Military Bases are forbidden. However, some peeps have made videos of the interior accommodations.

After landing in Korea, we were escorted directly into quarantine within the family section of Turumi Lodge. This building had condemned and was ready for demolition. But when Covid-19 struck, a sudden need for extra housing took precedence. Our living space was two small hotel rooms that had been combined years ago. The adjoining door was removed, and a closet was repurposed as a kitchen. Yes, you read that correctly, my kitchen was a freakin’ closet! The sink and induction burner soaked up fifty percent of the total counter space. I guess some counter space is better than none, right?

A small wooden cabinet stood opposite the kitchen next to the refrigerator, adorned with an automatic drip coffee maker and a four-slot toaster. How gracious and kind of the Air Force to provide such an amenity. However, in modern times, both coffee and toast have a common ingredient, electricity. There was no outlet, so I moved them to the countertop, leaving a space just big enough for a small cutting board.

Two of the chairs were falling apart and there was not adequate closet space to accommodate the luggage load for a family of four (plus two cats). The only amenity that could be looked upon as a positive was the high-speed internet. But alas our cell phones would not work.

Before leaving Idaho, we knew that we required phones with an international sim card. We purchased two new phones with the right cards and had them unlocked. Ugh! They were not fully or correctly unlocked, leaving us without cell service while we were locked up for fourteen days. Certain websites like FaceBook recognize an unfamiliar IP address and will send a temporary password to prove you are the true owner of an account. Unfortunately, that special password is sent via text message.

After quarantine, we were moved across the street to a more proper hotel. However, we were in two separate rooms and our cats were not allowed. Luckily, my wife had scoped this information out before we left Idaho and had a cat sitter ready. On our first day out, we purchased new phones, had our post office box assigned, and obtained our driver’s licenses and ration cards. We had to really move fast, as my wife was only given four days off to settle before reporting to her squadron. Of course, a four day holiday weekend was approaching and many official offices on the base would be closed or understaffed.

And that is when the proverbial hammer dropped on us. We were not going to be assigned housing on the base. Let the apartment hunting begin!


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