19 hours, 3 countries, and 2 huge suitcases. Just some of the numbers for our recent move to East Asia. Of course, the adventures started as soon as we took off and it all started with the experience of flying from the US through Korea and into Hong Kong.
Business class is what flying must have been back in the 1950s, except even better. There’s no other way to fly over 6 hours because they had a seat that could turn into a bed, tons of legroom, multi-course meals, and an airline staff that wouldn’t actually wake you up if you were sleeping. The first flight all the way to Korea took about 14 hours and consisted of 2 meals and attempts to sleep the entire flight to try to avoid jetlag and get from Central Daylight Time (CDT) onto China Standard Time (CST).
Landing in Seoul was otherwise uneventful. The fun (and trouble) started once we had to go through security again before transferring to the flight to Hong Kong. Due to changes in milliliters and fluid ounces, a face wash was lost to the Korean TSA and we had to re-pack everything in our carry-on bags. However, after getting through the admittedly efficient security, the actual airport was a fantastic break from 14 hours of being in a hunk of metal hurtling through the sky. The first thing was that the Korean airport had a small cultural center where you can learn to write in Korean and learn about the local culture.
Seoul’s airport also has a full-fledged mall and a number of restaurants to visit. Surprisingly, they also had people who could speak every language nearby: Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and even English! This was especially helpful as there were hundreds of people flocking the various information kiosks scattered around the terminal. Because there were so many people, there were people from all over Asia. Mostly Koreans, of course, but definitely some people from far-flung places.
We had a layover of about 2 hours before the next flight to Hong Kong and so a lot of hanging out in the lounge and walking aimlessly throughout the airport terminal. By the time the flight to Hong Kong was boarding, the sun had already set and the sky kept getting darker and darker. However, as we boarded the plane, we noticed we had to board through a special gate, separate from where most of the other people were lining up. Lo and behold when we came across this sight:
Two. Whole. Tiers. To be fair, in terms of the actual flight experience, it was the same as flying in a regular plane. It was very curious to see flight attendants walk down a set of stairs, though. Other than a much better quality seat, the trip to Hong Kong was uneventful. We got off the plane and took in the chaos that is Hong Kong International Airport and we had made it to China.
Since our taxi to the Mainland was the next day, we lugged our bags over to the hotel attached to the airport. If you might remember, there were only 2 large suitcases on this trip, but they were well over 60 lbs. each. Naturally, two unfortunate porters had to take them up to the room. Some half-hearted pleading for a tip, complaining about how the bags were really heavy, and a cool HK$20 later, we attempted to sleep.
Amazingly, we were up by 8am local time and decided to explore the airport and surrounding areas. Hong Kong’s airport (HKG) is amazing. There’s a full-fledged mall, a 7-11, train station, art installations on Cantonese Opera, and even an IMAX theater all inside the airport itself. Considering the hotel was attached to the airport, we can safely say that HKG blows O’Hare out of the water in terms of size and beauty.
After a quick breakfast and a morning constitutional outside to take in the humid, tropical air, we got into the van that had come to take us to the Mainland. Of course, the story doesn’t end there. Keep a lookout for our adventures in Shenzhen and even a return trip to Hong Kong!