Sunday 14 May 2023

Off to Asia

Not an early start by any means. Our flight isn't until 17:30.

Wanting to get in some good lounge time, we get a cab to Schiphol around 1:30.

Luckily, Schiphol isn't too busy. We go directly to check in.

“How many bags can we check in?”


It looks like Andrew will be lugging his bag around.

Then suddenly the KLM lady says: “You can check in a second bag, if you like.”

Where did that come from? Not that we’re complaining.

They’re still playing silly buggers about using priority security. Telling us we did to go through the non-priority bit. Grudgingly, they let Andrew through, “Just this once”.

Even passport control doesn’t have much of a queue. Unlike the last couple of times I’ve been through Schiphol.  I suppose because it’s a Sunday afternoon.

Andrew is travelling on his UK passport. And they’re about to stamp it until he shows them his Dutch ID card.

“Do you want anything from the duty free, Andrew?”

“No.” That’s a bit of a surprise. I’d been ready to get him a bottle of rum.

“Well, I do. Some hotel whisky.”

The Aberlour still isn’t too crazily expensive. The stuff I really like – Islay – is all way out of my price range. Damn the success of the Scottish whisky industry. Hopefully Brexit will fuck it up and bring the prices down.

The lounge isn't too busy, either. It's all good. I get myself a pair of whiskies and Andrew a beer. Then I get stuck into the food. The warm stuff doesn't look very appetising, so I stick to the cold: cheese, ham, various salad bits and bread. I fill myself up quite well. You never know how edible the meals on the plane will be. Safest to assume the worst.

“Go and get another round in, Andrew. A Jim Beam and a Teachers, please. No ice.”

He looks a little sheepish when he returns.

“I’m sorry, Dad. They’ve put ice in them.”

Oh well, just have to drink them quickly before the ice dilutes them too much.

We each go to the bar a few more times. And I load up with some more ham, cheese and salad. You can never have too much cheese.

Our gate isn’t far away. Pretty sure I can see our plane from where we sit.

I'm getting good at timing boarding. After a short walk to our gate, we walk straight onto the plane.

It's not full, which is great. The window seat isn’t occupied, so I sit there leaving an empty seat between me and Andrew.

The first meal is OK and I eat most of it. Soon after the lights go out. And I get stuck into some films. King of Staten Island, Locked Down, Half Brothers and some total shit. I finish with Frayed.

The flight heads due east. Over Germany, Rumania and then the Black Sea. Luckily, we don’t bump into any Russian warplanes.

I wisely invested in some miniatures of Jack Daniels in the duty free. They sustain me through the long night. Along with a few extra wines picked up from the galley.

A lot of the flight is over China. The first bit just barren desert. It looks very grey. Even when we get to obviously cultivated parts, there’s nothing in the way of green.

I don't bother with the breakfast. Other than a coffee and an orange juice. Something to perk me up and a few vitamins. That’s all I need.

We breeze through immigration, partly because we got a Qcode and so don't have to fill in the health form.

Our bags are some of the first off. Another win.

I didn't even try to sleep on the flight. Which was probably a mistake. I’m feeling pretty shattered when we hit the station around 13:00 where we buy train tickets. On the express train to Seoul Station. Whizzing through alternating concrete and countryside

Everything has gone without a hitch so far. Other than me being knackered.

Remembering how deep the airport express platforms are, we skip the multiple escalators and take the lift. To get to our hotel, we have to walk through the main KTX station. Where we try to get our tickets to Pohang for tomorrow.

Most of the ticket machines don't accept foreign credit cards. The couple that do, we can't get to work. So, we queue up at the ticket counter.

There's a bit of a queue. Knacked as I'm feeling, I can do without queueing. Luckily it doesn't take too long. Tickets in my pocket, we trek over the road to our hotel. Which is just a long enough walk to piss me off, what with dragging my luggage.

I'm on the 30th floor, Andrew on the 29th. Not sure why our rooms aren't closer together.

After getting our act together, we traipse downstairs to the convenience store. To get some bits and bobs. And beer for Andrew.

Back in my room, we just hang around and drink a little. I’m too tired to do much else.

Looking on my laptop, I notice there’s a gimbap (the Korean equivalent of sushi) close by. Though it’s not clear exactly which building it’s in. We go and look for it. Not very successfully. Instead, we go into another convenience store and get more provisions. There are two of the things within 50 metres of the hotel. Which is handy.

We laze away the evening with bee, whisky and TV. While occasionally looking at the trains flitting in and out of the KTX station.

It's low-key start to the trip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They always stamp my UK passport coming into Italy, even with my Italian ID card.