When I landed in Seoul, South Korea, it was the first time in my life I set foot on Asian soil. It was an exciting feeling. I have never been to Asia before so finally make it meant a great deal to me. The view of South Korea from the window of an airplane suggested that weather in this country was spectacular. It was virtually cloudless, other than some random tiny cloud here and there. I thought – if weather is this gorgeous in East Asia, surely it will be equally nice in South-East Asia, where I was heading to. But then again – I was well aware of the fact that September is the peak of the rainy season in Cambodia so I did not hold my breath. Seeing cloudless, sunny weather South Korea was enjoying left me a little bit encouraged.
Flight from Vancouver to Seoul took well over 10 hours. It was a long, long flight. Pacific Ocean is not a short distance to cover. Seeing the land below our plane delivered the feeling of landing soon which I’m sure every passenger aboard could not wait for. Good thing about South Korea is that once you have reached the east coast, the west coast where capital city Seoul is located is not far away. It also means that wherever in South Korea you are, you’re never too far from the beach. Having this narrow shape definitely has its advantages.
Incheon airport in Seoul is not very large. I was only transiting as my final destination was Siem Reap so I wasn’t hassled by Korean customs authorities and just followed the signs to connection flights. There wasn’t that much to do at Incheon, however connecting to their free WiFi internet was hassle free, unlike the crap experience in Vancouver. I was glad to have equipped myself with the universal power plug adapter which made its first use at Incheon. I only had a couple of hours to kill there and thanks to the internet, my time waiting for the Siem Reap flight flew by quickly. Before I knew it, the boarding was started. I have waited until everyone was in, have packed up my lap top and headed towards the gate to be the last person on board.
The plane wasn’t sold out solid, but I was the unlucky one to have been given the seat right next to two kids. Having just gone through near 11 hours on a plane, I really didn’t feel like being exposed to screaming kids for additional 5 hours. I felt tired and wanted to take a nap. I’ve asked the flight attendant if it was possible for me to sit elsewhere as I didn’t want to sit by the kids, but since this was the flight between Seoul and Siem Reap (aka none of the ports of call were English speaking), my words were not understood.
One person who did understand me was the father of those kids who was willing to aid me in re-seating myself. He however suggested that his daughters are well behaved and generally quiet. That was a bit encouraging, but I was really tired to risk it and it did prove a good idea. Well behaved or not, kids talk too loud and too much disturbing everyone around and while it’s sometimes bearable, it becomes excessively difficult if you’re exposed to it right after a long flight.
Luckily for me, I was able to increase the distance between me and the kids and even ended up taking a brief nap during the flight. Before I knew it, we were landing in my terminal destination for this trip – Siem Reap, Cambodia. And yes, it was pissing cats and dogs.
As I was boarding the Korean Air plane, I asked the flight attendant whether they anticipated many kids to be on board this flight. I was well fed and stocked on bottled water so there was no unpleasant experiences waiting for me to happen in this regard. It was a very long flight I had ahead of me so I wanted to make sure it will be as headache free as possible and with hunger and thirst being off the issues list, the only thing that could still turn this long haul flight into a nightmare would be screaming kids. Kids on a plane are an absolute horror of unspeakable magnitude and their presence, or absence pretty much determine whether the flight will be enjoyable or agonizing. According to the stewardess I had approached, there were very few, if any kids she was aware of that were about to board this craft.
That was great news. I also loved the plane. When I saw it from the terminal parked at our gate, I got excited. I have never flown one of those Boeing planes with upper deck (I think it was Boeing 747-400) before. I knew the top deck was where first class passengers stayed so it was off limits to me, however it was still exciting to board and fly one of those monsters. Really cool. So far nothing but complete awesomeness regarding Korean Air, but at that time I still did not know I was in for the best flying experience ever.
This large Boeing aircraft has seats on both sides of the plane, the same way regular planes do, but it also has a four row seating in the middle. That makes the plane look spacious and more luxurious. I got a seat numbered 41K. It was the seat by the window and when I got to it, the other two seats from the same section were vacant. Given that Korean Air was using this giant aircraft to fly us to Seoul, I assumed it was because there were many people who wanted to fly there so in order to accommodate them all, a large craft was provided. In other words – I thought this flight was gonna be packed full.
Soon after being seated, I had to start collecting my jaw from the floor. Korean girls are incredibly beautiful and those tight, short-skirt Korean Air outfits they wear complement their beauty really well. I asked the one of them whether the flight was sold out and she said it wasn’t which once again enriched the positive feelings I’ve been experiencing since boarding this plane. I was one of the last ones boarding and so far the only one at my row of three seats. Could it be that I’d have the whole damn thing all for myself? Chances were certainly there, but what I liked even better was the fact that right behind me, right behind the raw 41, there was this large open area with emergency exit. Only one guy was sitting in that three seater with loads and loads of leg room. I asked the flight attendant if it was possible for me to sit there, provided these other two seats don’t get taken prior to take off. She said I would only have to wait until we do take off and then I could move.
Sweet – except that I didn’t wait. I moved as soon as she left me. I asked that guy who occupied the one seat if he was OK with me taking one of those and he actually said that if there was gonna be nobody in the row in which I had my assigned seat, he would actually move out of this spot and take that whole row 41 for himself, claiming it was better suited for sleeping. He said he was boarding a flight to Hong Kong after arriving in Seoul and goes straight to work from there so getting some sleep would be beneficial for him.
I sent him to take my original seat without hesitation, suggesting that there are hardly any more people left to board the plane so he would likely have the whole thing for himself. It worked out perfect, cause yet before we took off, I had an entire raw by the emergency exit for myself with more leg room than I could bargain for. The guy who was originally meant to sit here got what he wanted – whole row of seats to sleep on for himself = everyone wins.
As we were getting ready to depart, the things just kept getting better and better. Facing me opposite that large leg room area is one seat where flight attendants sit for the take off. The hottest of all flight attendants sat there facing me, so we were just giving each other smirks. She was so cute. But the real awesomeness of Korean Air started after we were in the air. I can safely assume that flying Korean Air = the most awesome plane experience ever. The awesomeness of Korean Air simply never stopped.
The entertainment system is loaded with latest Hollywood movies and all of them free of charge. Quality headphones were provided to every passenger after take off free of charge. It was none of that cheap crap I got from Westjet after shelling out $3. Korean Air headphones are much better and are complimentary. The selection of movies as I have said was noteworthy. Normally you get one decent move and a couple of stupidly crappy ones. The good one was one of those you would have already seen and the stupid ones were so lame, you didn’t even feel like watching. Korean Air is different.
Their selection of movies included Wolverine, Terminator Salvation, Angels and Demons, The Hangover, Star Trek XI, Monsters vs Aliens, etc. Absolutely amazing selection of in flight entertainment and all of it free. You don’t pay to watch any of the movie aboard Korean Air. It is included complimentary to make your flight with them more enjoyable. And awe just continued.
Bottle of water was provided on every seat, but even so, before you could start feeling like you could use more water, the flight attendants would already start delivering drinks. They never stopped. They were always on their feet providing their customers with something. And then the food was served – that’s where Korean Air really got me.
I was asked whether I wanted Korean traditional meal or beef. Of course I went for the Korean dish. No question there. But what I did not expect was that in flight meals on Korean Air flights are served in actual porcelain dishes, not in some plastic stuff. Also, you get new, plastic wrapped silverware. Actual high end silverware instead of cheapo plastic crap other airliners give you to eat with.
The traditional Korean dish I chose consisted of steamed rice and a bowl of Bibimbap – some mixture of sea weed, vegetable, minced meat and sprouts. Awesome Asian soup was part of it too as well as pickles and fruit. Kingly meal, I tell ya. When a girl who served me the dish asked me what wine I wanted, I automatically assumed it would cost money. I mean – no airline in the world, no matter what china they serve their food in and what cutlery they provide their customers with to eat with will serve you wine for free. You always pay for alcoholic beverages so I respectfully declined.
A minute later, another flight attendant comes with bottle of red wine in one hand and a bottle of white in another and asks me if I’m ready for a refill of wine. I asked how much it was for wine and she said it was all free. I took a glass full of red and must mention one more thing – the glass they provided was an actual glass, not plastic. What an awesome experience flying Korean Air.
Everything on this flight was included, and it wasn’t an overpriced flight. I have actually bought it because it was the cheapest and I always do my homework when it comes to buying travel stuff.
I got my bonus in flight entertainment when one of the flight attendants accidentally dropped a can of coke not far from me. The can burst on impact and sprayed the legs of other flight attendants with its sticky self. These girls are absolutely gorgeous so watching them rub coke off their perfect legs with paper towels was a real treat. It was the highlight of my trip (hey, at least I’m honest with you).
An extra surprise took place when I went to use the washroom and found it equipped with disposable toothbrushes and toothpaste. These were plastic wrapped, single use units. Inside were one toothbrush and a very small tube of toothpaste. I brushed my teeth with it which was amazing given the length of flight (aka time during which you would otherwise not give your teeth any care).
I have flown many a time in my life but flying Korean Air beat any and all previous flight experiences. This was above and beyond awesome. I will always look for Korean Air flights when booking plane tickets in the future before I book with someone else. The treatment, the value for money and the presence of most gorgeous girls can not be beat by any other carrier. Korean Air rules. This was the best flying experience of my life to date. Someone’s gonna have to provide hell of an experience to beat that.
As I have mentioned, I love the atmosphere at the airports. When you’re at the airport, the change is imminent. I got off the Air Canada plane and followed the International Flights signs at the Vancouver International. I had a few hours to kill, so there was no need to rush, however I still needed to get boarding passes for my Korean Air flights so I wanted to get that off my hands as soon as possible in case it was necessary to go at the opposite side of the airport.
It took me good 20 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other where international flights depart from. Information panel suggested that my flight takes off form gate 58, which I found, but there was nobody there yet. I simply got there too early. I had no other option but to wait until someone shows up as they would either issue my boarding pass, or tell me where to go to get it.
I have decided to kill the time getting on my laptop and checking emails. I have noticed signs all over Vancouver airport stating that YVR has free WiFi internet. They were advertising it big time everywhere so I found nearest power outlet, plugged my laptop in there and logged on. However after 20 minutes of desperate attempts to get connected to their unsecured network I had no luck at all. It was really frustrating.
I have eventually given up, packed up my laptop and started walking towards where I came from to track someone who looks like they might know what’s going on and ask them why they advertise free WiFi when it’s impossible to connect as system rejects all connection attempts.
And as I’m walking back, I see that cute girl sitting there on her pink Sony Vaio laptop, chattering to someone on a webcam. Since she was obviously on line, I stopped by her and asked if she had any troubles connecting. She said she had no troubles whatsoever so I sat opposite of her, plugged myself into the wall and made an attempt from this location. However, same lack of luck as before. I made no sense.
But I kept trying as that girl kept chatting and eventually I got to some window that was telling me that the host wants me to confirm something on their website and was asked if I wished to visit that website. I agreed and was taken to Vancouver International Airport site where I was asked to click on Agree button to agree with some of their TOS (quite likely confirming that I won’t be using this internet connection to download viruses or porn or what not).
The moment I got on, that girl asked me if I had any luck connecting. I said it just started to work for me and got down to doing my on line business. Being used to cold people from Edmonton, I ignored the girl believing she will be the same as regular Edmontonian, but was surprised after she repeatedly kept talking to me. She was cute and barefoot, so it was awesome. It was just something I am not used to, coming from the city where when you talk to a stranger, you get weird looks. Here I was a stranger to her and she talks to me.
Eventually, I put my work on hold and engaged in conversation with her. She told me her name was Irene and that she was from the Philippines. She lived in Calgary for 5 months but her contract didn’t get renewed or something like that so she had to return back home to the Philippines. I told her about my photography and it immediately increased her interest in my even more and asked me if I was on yahoo messenger, cause she wanted to add me. Seriously, I could already feel big time the difference it makes leaving Edmonton. There was no point for me to linger in the city that turns you into a chunk of stone.
Sadly, I don’t use Yahoo messenger. I once installed it, many years ago and it came with so much bloat ware and spyware and pop ups that it went off my computer before I first used it. Perhaps Yahoo got their act together in the meantime, but this initial experience was good enough for me to keep away. I have always used friendly and safe MSN messenger and have never had issues with it.
I explained that to Irene, but told her that I do have a yahoo email address and gave it to her. She made note of that and also took my Hotmail address in order to add me to her MSN messenger when she gets it installed so we can chat in the future. That’s how awesome people are outside of the corporate lifestyle world. I have just left Edmonton and I was back at living the life, instead of spending it.
Irene then came to sit next to me with her laptop and showed me some of the pictures her brother, who’s a photo enthusiast took. We talked about photography as she was actually well familiar with many aspects of it. I asked her to send me an email to the yahoo address I gave her so I could respond with links to my sites. I did not want to just give her the URL to my personal site which has a lot of nude photography, so I sent a link in an email with appropriate warning.
Right after that, I took a glance at the clock on my laptop and realized it was already 1.40pm and my flight departure was scheduled for 2.20pm. I didn’t have a breakfast so I wanted to go get something before boarding and I also wanted to pick up a bottle of mineral water so I don’t die thirsty on a plane. It was going to be a long, long flight so I had better taken care of myself or else I’d be looking at 10+ hours of pain.
I liked hanging out with Irene form the Philippines, but I really had to go. I still needed the boarding pass. So I said my Good Byes, Irene insisted that I visit Philippines on my travels and let her know so we can hang out in her country and then I took off. I quickly picked up a sandwich from Subway, went to just grab it and go to the place where they sell bottled water so I can dart off back towards my gate, when I noticed on the board that it was only 12.40 – my computer clock was still on Canadian Mountain Time so being in Vancouver put me back one hour.
This gave me an extra hour so I ate my sub in peace, picked up a bottle of water which is BTW extremely expensive within secure area of the airport (grrrr, cause you can’t take any liquids with you as security precautions don’t allow that, so you are forced to buy overpriced water or stay thirsty on the plane) and went back to gate 58 to get a boarding pass.
It was a pleasure to be served by absolutely gorgeous Korean girls. Beautiful, slender and tall, these girls are jaw dropping. I got my boarding pass and was told boarding would begin at 1.50, which gave me a bit over 5 minutes to spend on a computer again.
I knew I wouldn’t want to be the first one to board a plane, so I sat back, plugged myself in and started the laptop for the thirst time in Vancouver. Low and behold, after 15 minutes of trying, no luck getting connected. I was messing around hoping to click on a button that would open a message which prompts me to visit the website but it never happened. I don’t remember how I got there the first time. I tried everything but to no avail. Frustrated, I have eventually turned the computer off and boarded the plane. And it was a nice plane. Korean Air rules in more ways than just by having the most stunning flight attendants in the world.
My plan to start off my worldwide travel in the Dominican Republic was falling apart. It seemed too risky to start myself off in a country I’ve never visited before but trying to score a reasonably priced ticket for the Caribbean in summer with departure from Edmonton got impossible. Edmonton is not a very good gateway for international travel in general. There are often great deals to various places from Toronto, Calgary which is only 3 hours from Edmonton is half decent oftentimes as well and Vancouver is the best when aiming for Asia. And Asia it was I started to speculate about more and more with each new day. Trickier or not, even though I’ve never been to any Asian country before and wanted to start off in a place I was familiar with, something was attracting me to Asia and taking my focus away from the Dominican Republic. The fact that the Dominican Republic was a familiar place suddenly seemed unattractive – I’ve already been there before.
I started to expand my horizons and instead of looking for cheap tickets to the Caribbean, I started focusing more on flights to Asia. There was a part of me that really wanted to go to Cambodia. If I were to pull a list of top 10 places I would definitely love to visit before I die out of my head, Angkor Wat would be right there on top of it. And while I did enjoy my last trip to the Dominican Republic, there was nothing in it that would make the top 10 list in any way. Based on this fact alone, I knew that going to Cambodia was inevitable for me. It was simply a “must visit place before I die” and a big dream I needed to make come true. So I kept snooping around to see what options I had to go to Cambodia instead of the Caribbean at the end of August.
Trouble is – islands in the Caribbean Sea count as the most popular sun getaways for many people in Canada so trips scheduled down south are frequent and when compared to other parts of the world, attractively priced. Asia on the other hand – being on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean and being so vastly different from North American counts as one of more expensive destinations for us in the Great White North. And my initial research confirmed all that. Then again, it’s a 6 hours long direct flight that can take me to the Dominican Republic, but it takes three planes and a total of 16 hours plane time to get me from Edmonton to Bangkok, which is the nearest big hub to Cambodia. Pacific Ocean is huge and I would have to go via Vancouver and Seoul to get to South East Asia where I was considering to end up.
Just as with most other international destinations, Edmonton was a bad starting point. Flights to Asia from Canada can be had for much cheaper if originating from Vancouver. So I started looking around for cheap ways to get me to Vancouver from Edmonton and then continue to Asia from there. Since Vancouver is much closer than Toronto and can be done in 1 day from Edmonton, I got back to looking for car sharing arrangements similar to those I have previously ditched when I wanted to fly to the Dominican Republic from the cities on the East Coast of Canada.