Tag Archives: airport

Good-bye Korea; Hello Hanoi

It was a long trip from Korea to Vietnam. The flight itself was only 5 hours, but because I couldn’t get a bus early enough to get to the airport, my trip took much longer.

On the evening before my flight, I took the bus from Cheongju (where I had lived) to Incheon airport. It was a good thing I went early, as the traffic was super congested and it took ages.

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Once we arrived, I took the opportunity to weigh my suitcase even before I headed to the hotel. I had thought ahead enough to buy extra weight allowance – up to 30kg – on it, but I was still worried, so I hit those scales ASAP so I could redistribute if necessary once in the hotel. At 27.6kg, I had reason to be a little worried! There was definitely room for nothing else in there. After weighing my bag, I bought it some pajamas. It is a plain black bag, and I wanted to make it more recognizable on the luggage-go-round. The jammies definitely did that.

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Suitcase Space Jams

It was finally time to take me and my beast of a bag to the hotel. I stayed in the Darakhyu capsule hotel by Walkerhill in the airport. As in – legits IN the airport. It was only $60 a night because it was tiny. Tiny but nicely done and definitely comfortable. And 100% worth it.


What was amazing about staying at this hotel is that I was able to wake up at 7:30am for a 8:10am check-in. I’ve never appreciated having a hotel so much in my life! If you have an early check in (Note: 8am isn’t *that* early, but it is when you live more than 2 hours from the airport, like I was) I would really recommend staying at this place. It made my travel day a LOT less exhausting.

Check in and security were super fast and easy at Incheon. But before I headed to my gate (132 – the very last gate), I decided to see how much of my “funny money” I could exchange.

I have always hung onto my extra currency when I traveled, as a kind of souvenir. But as I’ve been reducing my belongings over the last year, I decided it was high time to switch that money to a currency I could use. When all was said and done, that three-inch stack of multiple currencies gave me about $75usd, which I was grateful to get for this part of my adventure.

Money in hand, I headed all the way to the other end of the airport to find my gate, which turned out to be the last possible gate. It’s in the basement. As I awaited my seriously “no frills” flight with VietJet Air, I kept trying to get a hold of my sleeping husband to say goodbye and to download a couple of films on Netflix before I boarded. Neither of those things worked out for me.


Seeing the back of that chair with no screen made me wish I had known that Netflix takes 20 million hours to download something. I would have started the night before. I had been spoiled on my flights to and from Canada, but for how wonderfully cheap the flight was, I should have known I couldn’t be expecting much.

The flight was absolutely uneventful. Not even food happened for me, because I refused to buy anything as soon as I realised they weren’t even going to toss some peanuts and water my way. The flight was five hours. I could wait.

The flight was good – we got to Noi Bai (the airport nearest Hanoi) earlier than expected and it was a smooth flight. I got off the plane and did the immigration thing.

::SIDE NOTE::

Some of the posts are going to be like this – nonsense ramblings about what each day was like so I can look back and remember how life overall was when I first got here. However, there will be other posts that I’m hoping may be helpful for others looking for information on coming to Vietnam, such as details about what to expect at immigration.

::END SIDE NOTE::

Once I had my visa (which took about 40 minutes) and bounced through immigration, I was able to pick up my pajama’d suitcase no problem and breezed through the nothing-to-declare line at border control. So far, so good. There was some sort of excitement going on when I came into the arrival hall, apparently some celebrity was walking out at the same time I was.

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Who could it be?

Once the crowd cleared, I looked around for some rando holding a sign with my name on it. Yikes. I knew this couldn’t all be this easy. Even though I had booked a ride with my hotel (I have read multiple times that if you are going to get ripped off in a taxi, from the airport is where it was going to happen), there was definitely no one there at A2 arrivals waiting for me. So I walked down to the other end of the thankfully tiny airport to see if my man was at A1. No such luck. Dang it!

With my spotty wifi connection, I was finally able to ring the hotel via Skype. They gave the driver a call and I had to call them back. When I did, I was asked to wait 10 minutes, as my driver had had a fight with the police and was running late. Of course.

I picked up a sim card for my phone in anticipation of further bungling, but the driver was there in the requested 10 minutes and we were on our way. He was a good driver and, other than his constant nose picking and then (gag) nail biting OF THE SAME HAND, it was a perfectly pleasant journey.

Traffic in Hanoi was mental, as expected, but there was no incident on the way to the hotel. I was looking around trying to see if I would recognise anything, but either the city has massively changed or my memory has faded more than I realised in the past decade. Probably both.

My hotel is lovely. It isn’t fancy, but for under $20usd a night, I don’t expect fancy. The people who run the hotel are a family and they are very kind.

 

After I had checked in and showered, it was time to finally eat. The hotel recommended I go to Pho 10, and they weren’t wrong. It was a delicious (and, at $3, cheap) first meal in Vietnam.

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Belly full, it was time to walk back to the hotel. On the way, I saw St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which was finally a familiar sight. My memory wasn’t completely shot and Hanoi wasn’t completely changed.

So there you go. My first day back in Vietnam, and the first day of Hanoi as home.

>Vacations rule

>I’m surprised at how quickly 2008 is passing when I consider that I went through eight months without taking any vacation.

I won’t do that next year.

By the time I was ready for holidays, I was not in a very good mood anymore. I mean, granted, I had already quit my job once but if I didn’t have this last month off work I think I would have quit again. And now it is Tuesday and the temptation to walk is already growing. I can’t wait for Christmas.

First, to complain about work. Things aren’t changing around here as quickly as I would like, but I’m not going to give up quite yet. I’m definitely going to give it until after the Christmas holidays. I figure that way, if nothing else, I have a year’s employment at one company in the UK on my CV. Can’t hurt, can it? Although I may go crazy in the meanwhile and slaughter everyone I work with, but hey! It is worth that risk.

As some people know, my moms was here in London for the duration of my holidays. And we stayed in London. And it was lovely.

I hadn’t seen my moms in three years, and just before she got here I mentioned to her that it didn’t actually feel like that long. And it didn’t. I mean, after a certain amount of time, it is just time. But I tells ya… those last few hours, waiting at Gatwick for her to arrive… that felt like an eternity! I was so excited when she finally came through the gate.

Before you even think to ask: No. I didn’t cry. Neither did she. But we were both freaking excited.

I’m not going to go into detail about the three weeks. We did a lot of the touristy things in London, and a lot of non-touristy things. We went on long walks every day and chatted about things. It was very relaxing and I’m happy that I could finally share some of my travel experiences with my mommy.

I don’t know when I’ll make it back to Canada… but I do know that I don’t want another three flipping years to go by without a mommy-fix. People, it is far to long to go without seeing your family.

Ah, Korea… you muggy monkey armpit

Well, I have arrived in Korea and all is well. Andrea wanted me to email with my first impression of Korea… but I thought I would post it here so everyone can read it. Have you ever gone to have a shower immediately after someone else just showered, and they took the HOTTEST shower on the planet? That muggy-ass bathroom is what it felt like when I stepped out of the airport. Muggy, muggy, muggy. My clothes were soaked before I could even start sweating. Good thing everywhere has air conditioning.

The drive from the airport to the school was pretty dull, actually. We sort of skirted around Seoul as we drove from Incheon to Suji. The traffic was a bitch – it took 2 hours to make the drive. Lame. I was crashing hard, and trying to stay awake to look around at the same time. I was taken to the school first, and the Director and administrators took me out for dinner. We had Vietnamese food. Seriously. How weird. It’s a new restaurant in the area though and apparently they really dig it. Then they took me to my temp apartment. The one I will get is not vacated yet. The one I have right now is huge, but I don’t get to keep it. The next one will be a shoe box. Don’t worry, as soon as I have my computer hooked up to the internet I will get you guys some pictures to laugh at. The one I am in now is not furnished. There is nothing (no chairs, no fridge, no stove no a/c…. nothing) but my “bed” (which is a roll-away cot). The bed is approximately as comfortable as sleeping on a comforter you’ve thrown on the floor. Not even a foamy mind you… just a blanket. Hard as a freaking rock.

Mike, you asked me to take pictures of funny signs and stuff. I don’t have a picture for you yet, but I do live next door to “Pizza Cok”. I grabbed dinner from there last night, and Pizza Cok makes good pizza. I had to take a picture of what my $12 bought… the pizza box was wrapped in a red ribbon and there was a 100\ coin taped to the box. I also got a Coke, two little things of pickles (not good pickles like my mom’s, but sweet pickles), hot sauce and parmesan cheese. I got a small “potato pizza”. They have normal pizza, but I was told the potato pizza was good so I thought I would try it. Just what it sounds like, boys and girls – pizza with a hunk of potato on each piece. And it is GOOD.

Lies about Korea: That there is no chocolate or coffee (there is both, thank god)

Funniest thing found in Korea (other than Pizza Cok): Hello Kitty tampons. At the corner store.

Right now the coolest thing is that the people at the school (bosses and co-workers) seem really cool and very nice. The school is also very nice and well-equipped (and the a/c is on – hooray!) . The kids are amazing – very cute, very smart (smarter than me, at least) and really cuddly. I think it is going to be a lot of fun.

As soon as I get pictures uploaded (like the one of the Batman Bar – sweet!) I will post them for your viewin’ pleasure. Hopefully I’ll get to do that as soon as I am out of the temporary apartment.

Original Comments:

Erin wrote (on 20/08/05):

 

Don’t worry my dear, it’s equally nasty in Japan. I’ve now learned that fans are not and affectation they are a nessessity! It’s odd dreading summer but I promise that Aug is the worst… fall is fantastic! Promise. Oh and 歓迎 to Asia! it’s nice to have you here!

>At the airport they have eYVRything…

>

…for a million dollars. Everything is SO expensive. I had a croissant and a Diet Pepsi and it was $4.80. I saw another guy buy a bag of chips… a LITTLE one… for $1.75. What the hell? For that price, I hope it was the best bag of chips he ever ate.

This is my second time in an airport, and my first past the gates at YVR. So I don’t know what I am doing or where I need to be (and I am here very, very early). They probably think I’m a huge dork. And all I can think is this: what happens once I get to an airport that is probably 100 times bigger than this one in a country where they do not speak the language after being trapped on a plane for 11 hours (which I suspect will make me vaguely retarded)?

It was hard to say goodbye to Mike this morning (picture attached – ha ha Mike… didn’t warn you that being near me when I have a camera is just about the same as signing a waiver that I can post your picture on the internet, did I??), and I’m going to miss him very much. It will be hard to go from seeing someone every day to not at all. So if you know Mike, be nice to him because I’m sure for the next three or four months he will be walking around all sad and stuff (ha!).

Alright kids, I don’t have much more to say right now. I can hear airplanes, and they have finally put up my flight on the boarding gates (but I still can’t board, I think I mentioned that I’m ridiculously early). Wish me luck.

Original Comments:

Andreeee-aaah wrote (on 20/08/05):

I’ll call Mike next week and take him out for beers.

Jodi, I can’t believe you’re gone! What will my life be like without you for a whole effing YEAR?? ! Argh. Miss you miss you miss you miss you.

xo