Saturday, June 9, 2012

[Tourist] Day 23: I've got Seoul but I'm not a Seouldier

The bus for the airport left at 7 AM so naturally I was up at 4:30. But then you knew that already. Before leaving I had downloaded Justin Halpern's I Suck at Girls and I laughed so many times while reading it that I may have made the otherwise quiet and reserved people on the bus concerned. Sorry people I will never see again! Let's just say the book hits close to home in places and leave it at that.

The Friendly Airport Limousine ride was shorter than last time because Tokyo Disneyland is a good deal closer to Narita. On arriving at the airport the bus had to stop for security clearance, which I've not experienced before. They came on and checked everyone's passport and then waved us on our way.

Riding coach

Bon Voyage, Disney!

Hmm...I'm at C and I need to be where?

G. Ah. Well then. Time to start walking.

I arrived quite a few hours before my flight but after the last Asiana flight from Narita had departed. All of the first/business class counters were closed but there was a gentleman who helped me anyway. I was concerned that my bad should stay under 19kg as there was a Lufthansa coach section coming up that would be subject to a heavy fine should I go over that. Thankfully the bag came in at 18kg and I was on my way.

I took a detour after checking in to run some errands and do some shopping. First things first, I returned my Suica card for a hefty refund. Sorry, Suica, you're no Octopus so I'm not keeping you around. I also bought this delicious melon-flavored soda:

One of the most delicious things I've ever drank, SKAL!

It starts with an intense melon kick and then fades to delicious sweetness. As one of my rap names (don't ask, I don't really rap) was the Melon Balla, I was rather taken with the soda.

After that I wandered the airport mall. After my failed quest to find many flavors of kit kats I was dismayed to find all of the ones I'd heard about at the airport:

So here's where all the damn kit kats are. Wasabi kit kat? Color me intrigued.

Except they all came in $10 boxes that featured way more of one flavor than I wanted. Sure I want to try a wasabi kit kat, but I don't want that many of them.

I later went into a souvenir store to buy a certain item in gold (purposefully vague because it's a gift for someone who may be reading). It became clear after they rang me up that the only one they had in gold was on display and it was going to be a huge ordeal to wrap it up properly. I tried to indicate that I'd take the white one instead but the language barrier was tricky. Wait! I have this app that supposedly does horrible translations - let's see if it works. It must have because five seconds later both of the clerks were smiling and thanking profusely as they gave me the white one. They also gave me a free pack of gum:

Still haven't tried it

I then headed through security and immigration so I could check out the ANA lounge. What a pleasant experience! The security people treated me like a human being. I nearly died of shock. I don't want to leave Japan.

For some reason I just really liked this plane

Eventually I checked into the ANA lounge courtesy of my F ticket on Asiana. The other option was the United Red Carpet Club lounge but I'd heard their food options were minimal. The ANA lounge was quite nice, with decent food options including soba and udon noodles. I wiled away a few hours there until it came time to head to the gate.

I don't think this lounge comes with a free wife ;)

That man's outfit makes me feel better about myself

The rice Triforces over there remind me of these delicious rice patties that my friend Athena makes. Maybe she's reading this right now. Maybe she'll make some for me when I get home. Maybe I'll win the lottery. Hey, aim big right?

I don't know jack about noodles so I just ordered what the guy in front of me had

And it was delicious

Not today RCC. Maybe some other time we can be friends?

The Asiana flight was technically in a business class, though it was their first class seats and cabin. I'm guessing it was because the flight was so short that they didn't feel right calling it first?

I'd read that there were some English problems with Asiana staff, but I certainly didn't encounter any on this flight. The FA had a better grasp of English than any of the others I'd had on international airlines and frankly probably better than some of the ones I had on United and American.

How many times can I make the "it's coming right for us" joke that wasn't even funny the first time? I don't know but let's go for one more: IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

Quite possibly my first time on a 747. Crazy, right?

I could get used to this

This is business class eh? American legacy carriers, eat your hearts out.

Very airy cabin

Ah yeah, that's what you come here for. You're sick.

Possibly the most frustrating remote I've ever used

The load on the flight was quite light, with no more than 40% of the seats taken. The flight started with some fresh squeezed orange juice, which was delicious. They then took our food orders. I really wanted to order the Western appetizer with the Korean main. At first the flight attendant indicated this wouldn't be possible, but I think when she realized how light the load was she relented.

Pre-departure options: OJ or water. What, no booze at noon? Oh wait, it's because we are taking off out of Japan, isn't it? Way to leave a bad (non-alcoholic) taste in my mouth, Japan.

There's a really obvious Mmmmbop joke to be made here. There's also at least one South Korean friend who wouldn't speak to me any more if I did. So let's just pretend that didn't happen, okay?

Quite comfortable

The food was delicious! The Korean dish may have been the tastiest I've had on a plane. And the kimchi was intense, far more so than the relatively bland stuff I've had in the US. I actually went and brushed my teeth afterward.

I hadn't seen Mt. Fuji since the view from the Park Hyatt on the first day so I kept an eye out for it on the flight. Turns out it was hard to miss:

You look familiar

Are you sure I don't know you from somewhere?

K2? Kilimanjaro? Stop me if I'm getting close.

Very full meal

Shouldn't have bothered with the western appetizer

This was one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten and I am going to my favorite (alright, only) Korean restaurant in Tampa within two weeks of getting back to have some more

The flight itself was quite short and, in no time at all, we had landed. Immigration in South Korea moved so slowly that I thought I might miss my connecting flight 22 hours later just standing there waiting to clear it. Eventually I made it through and was greeted by this:

I'm home! Oh wait, this is Seoul. Nevermind!

One quick ride to the Hyatt Regency Incheon and I was settling in for the night. The hotel looks nice enough but I had the bad fortune to be there during a Korean national holiday. The Regency Club, where I had dinner and breakfast, was a complete zoo. I swear there were more kids in the Regency Club during dinner than there had been at Disneyland.

Cruising in style

Yes it's an airport hotel. But at least it's a nice looking one?

These are the kind of welcome amenities I can get behind

Things that don't inspire me with confidence in a hotel

Probably not a combination often seen in this world

The club was so busy that the poor guy bringing the tray of shrimp out got mobbed before he could even put it down

This isn't an empty glass of Baileys...this is all the Baileys they had left in the hotel

The desserts were surprisingly delicious

There was a ton of noise in the room that night from all of the kids running the hallways. I put in some earplugs and tried to go to sleep, knowing that this would be my last time in a real bed for more than 24 hours. 

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