|Arrival in South Korea, Incheon International Airport|
We spent our first night at the Weston Hotel in San Francisco. On the morning of Worrall Travel R Day (WTRD) 2, Russ and I gathered up our belongs packed in two small carry-ons, two personal items, and one medium gear bag for check on. Half of the gear bag is filled with bulky, maybe-we-will-use items (walking sticks, hiking shoes, swim suits, sport coat for Russ, first aid, emergency medications, my trusty teapot and crash rations of coffee and soup. The other half of the bag is packed with gifts for our host families in Japan. Since Japan is our last stop, we will be hauling this bag all over Korea and Japan.
SFOCheck in at SFO went smoothly at the new sleek counter self-check stations. These are nice additions where passengers can actually set some things on the counter and not juggle all the things they have in their hands. We were the only ones at the self check. The United Desk at 8:00 am was not busy either at self-check or main desks. Passports scanned, boarding passes issued, luggage claim tag secured, we dropped off our single bag, made our way through security and to a little cafe for breakfast.
The 747 heading for Seoul had a decent size crowd, but there were a lot of empty seats which allowed freedom of movement and physially more seat room. Russ and I usually reserve a window and an aisle seat and hope no one books the middle seat. Sometimes it doesn't work, but most of the time it does if the flight isn't really full. Today it worked, so we had the middle seat for more room, could stuff our day packs under the middle seat on the floor leaving lots of room for leg space in front of us. The flight took off on time and for the most part the ride across the Pacific was smooth and uneventful.
The only non-event for us was the lack of audio to the inflight movies. Since neither of us were watching the movies it didn't matter, but to apologize for the problem, all passengers got an appreciation gift of a $100 gift certificate towards merchandise or air ticket or 5,000 mileage points. Nice! Thanks United. Wonder if that made the local news? Probably not. No sensationalism attached to customer satisfaction or good deeds.
Because the 747 is not equipped with individual seat back screens, window shades were pulled down almost the entire flight, not particularly convenient for those who choose window seats, but I did try to peek out every once in a while. We were high above the clouds all the way in brilliant sunshine and blue sky. We chased the midday sun all the way across arriving around 10:00 pm PDT Sep 5, but 2:00 pm Sep 6 at Incheon International Airport. Our plane and another plane from China landed about the same time, We looked like a swarm of ants marching through the corridors of the airport. SFO passengers were shuttled to the left of the hall as we made our way to immigration. Chinese passengers were shuttled to the right of the hall. Apparently there was a thermal camera on the right side measuring the body temperature of the Chinese passengers as they passed through the hall. Guess there is a health concern.
After passport control, baggage pickup, and customs. We were met by our transfer host and driver for our hour ride into Seoul. It was grey and drizzling.
We first noticed the many new cars on the road driving on an efficient freeway from Airport to Seoul. The car electronic navigation system chimed every few minutes indicating a sophisticated road toll management system.
We passed over some beautiful bridges into the city and an astonishing amount of closely packed high rise buildings. It was hard to tell in the grey drizzle whether the buildings were residential or commercial.
We arrived at our hotel about 4:00 pm. Our room is clean, tidy, non-smoking, queen bed, has free Wifi, and is the size of a shoe box....very small with a closet too small for any luggage.
There are no luggage racks, door hooks or towel racks. We spend some time rearranging our packing while not trying to stumble over the luggage, converting our air travel packing to land travel packing, stretched out on the bed catching up with mail, and trying to stay awake until 8:00 pm or so. About 6:00 pm we decided to go out, get some fresh air, exercise our legs, and get something quick to eat.
It's drizzling outside and the streets are jammed with people in dark business day clothing all hunkered under umbrellas. Not sure whether these folks are really worried about getting sprinkled on or just the fact that the diameter of the umbrella provides a constant amount of personal space around them in a crowd.
Russ and I don't have an umbrella with us and even if we did we wouldn't have it up as the sprinkle is hardly noticeable. What is noticeable is us. My neon pink rain jacket and Russ's rust red jacket are in colorful contrast to the swarm of people in greys, browns, and blacks. We walk for a bit looking in store windows, into busy and not so busy cafes, and decide we are too pooped to be adventurous, so we eat at a MacDonalds.. We both enjoy the shrimp cake and corn patty sandwich. Not sure what it is called in Korean, maybe the Big Macornshrimpy.
Returning to our hotel, we shower and tumble into bed. It's been a very long day. As I write this blog, it is 2:00 am in the morning here and Russ and I are both awake. It will take a few days to get adjusted to the time change, and we have nothing planned for today.