Flew from Adelaide to Sydney. Advantage of living in a small city is that the lack of fear of surface to air missiles makes it possible for passengers to be waved off from a nearby car park. So the last thing I saw as he plane rumbled down the runway was a tiny Troll Princess standing on the bonnet of the car waving goodbye. I cried.
In Sydney I stayed in an Ibis which was as Ibis as they come. There was a weird pre-fabbed bathroom which you stepped up into, a bit like being in a ship’s cabin. I wasn’t up for the two-minute noodles I had packed so I drank some tea, ate some crackers and being entirely-unsure-about-wether-this-was-the-right-thing-to-do-and-oh-boy-that’s-a-lot-of-miles-to-go-all-on-one’s-own (hereafter known as EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO) , I sedated myself for sleep.
I missed the 6.30 shuttle on account of some prat in front of me at checkout asking idiotic questions. I don’t miss things, ever, so that pissed me off. Plane was scheduled for 0820 and the next shuttle was at 7am so I eventually decided on a taxi to the airport - and the plane was an hour late, naturally.
At Kingsford Smith, I got my first taste of business class check-in. It was the same as economy, only quicker. I did get to use the business class lounge which would have been pleasant however I was still fixated on EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO and ergo spent most of the time in an unhappy haze. I also think they could learn a lot from Incheon’s beautiful business class lounge and not put flight announcements over the PA. I noticed I was in an airport about the time I pulled up to the doors marked “Departures”. No need to rub it in.
I was flying with Asiana Airlines. I’m not a really excellent flyer and I’m pretty sure that the words “Korean” and “airline” should not appear in the same sentence so I checked out the pilots and plane carefully. The pilots had the correct headgear and epaulettes and the plane was a Boeing 777 with wings that looked reasonably well affixed so I boarded. Joy of joys, the cabin was half empty and the seat next to mine was completely empty. For some reason (*ahem* EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO), I was exhausted and fed up already…….God Bless Mersyndol, out they came. Now, I would recommend Asiana to any-one, firstly because they got me there and back without crashing into the Pacific and secondly because of what happened next; I refused the menu which the stewardess offered and she returned unbidden (like, WTF?!) with earplugs, eye mask, glass of water and put the shades down. I awoke seven hours later and was served an ‘interesting’ Korean banquet (they have very good western food too but I wanted to try the Korean stuff) which consisted half of things I didn’t want to eat and the other half of stuff I was fairly sure I shouldn’t be eating. The appetisers, fresh fruit and cheese were a triumph though.
First thing I noticed upon descent into Korea was the greyness. It was very odd, not smog, not mist, but seemingly humidity. I asked my friend who served there and he said it’s always like that (and a whole lot of other stuff about Korea too, I quickly changed the subject in case he went mad with a gun). As is de rigeur in these places, I and a host of others were shuttled like livestock to a nearby hotel (I decided against the city hotel with the 500 year old bonsai tree) without windows (!). The lack of windows was compensated for with gadgets…….oven thingy, hot and cold water thingy, spa bath with all sorts of buttons, shower with all sorts of buttons, sauna with all sorts of buttons and the now famous toilet with all sorts of buttons.
Amused myself no end then discovered…….a computer! I turned it on with baited breath and lo and behold, let there be internet, woohoo! There was no charge for useage either. The Koreans have a bit of an obsession with slippers (they give you a pair to make the long journey through the metal detector at the airport) and I noticed no less than seven pairs in my hotel room which seemingly slept two. The rest of the room had polished bamboo floors, dark wood accessories and faux paper partitions. Unfortunately, the bed was made of some sort of weird korean ironstone (OK, maybe not but it was hard as rock) and I ended up sleeping with my travel pillow under my hip.
Next morning, not willing to face any more Korean food oddities, and still being quite EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO, I dined on crackers and decided on a walk around the district………………which took up all of half an hour before I decided that the hotel room and the internet were the more attractive option. It was all so grey and I guess a semi-industrial district is not really the highlight of any sightseeing tour. A bit later I was shuttled like livestock back to Incheon. Maybe next time I’ll get to see the 500 year old bonsai tree.
Now the lounge at Incheon as mentioned, does not have intrusive PA announcements. It has instead, a lady playing a grand piano, comfortable lounge chairs, a largish buffet (chicken porridge is apparently a Korean delicacy), plenty of drinks and alcohol and staff coming through every now and again calling for passengers for the next flight to leave. I did leave the comfort of the lounge on one occasion to search the many duty free shops for Al Capone pockets to no avail. I met an American man who complained bitterly (in that funny way that western white men have when abroad in Asian or Arabic countries) about being sent in the wrong direction to the lounge and his wife with a very practiced, frozen, polite smile and dazed look in her eye. He did get my jokes about the porridge though.
More Korean dodgy food (I chose the western options thereafter) and Mersyndol on the plane…………and eleven blissfully unconscious hours later, LAX (insert dramatic music here, most of us in the know would rather endure an axe attack than LAX).
Stand-by for Day Three.