After a nice relaxing breakfast, it was time to catch the hotel shuttle back to Narita. Got there a bit early, so mainlined some Starbucks while I waited and very slowly came back to life. Soon Asiana check-in was open, and the line next to me provided “Happy Mom Service.” This is a thing? Seriously?
At check-in I got the bad news that Asiana had eliminated first class service on regional routes, and I’d been downgraded to business. GRRR. Not to worry though, it was still the same plane so I’d get a first class seat with business class service. No first class lounge, however. Yuck. The great thing at check-in, however, is that the agent was willing to check my bag of scuba gear all the way to DC so I didn’t have to pick it up for three days….and I was back in the land of carry-on only. Thank God!
Through immigration, where you must remember that transporting crabs is not permitted!
Explored the United Club lounge, had one beer because…well…automatic beer machine…before retreating in fear to the ANA lounge. It unfortunately, wasn’t much better. I’d never been in either of these lounges before, having always used the ANA First (now suites) lounge on my previous trips through Narita. The ANA lounge was fairly ok, but neither lounge was anything to get there at all early for.
I decided to head to the gate on time, and of course, boarding was thus delayed for 20 minutes. Just my luck. Our plane had arrived slightly late from Seoul, but was nice to get a good pic of her:
Right around the time we were scheduled to leave we finally boarded.
Asiana Flight 101
Tokyo/Narita, Japan (NRT) to Seoul/Incheon, Korea (ICN)
Depart 12:30, Arrive 15:10, Flight Time 2:40
Boeing 747-400, Registration HL7423, Manufactured 1997, Seat 3A
Boarded and the crew extremely graciously brought menus rather quickly:
I chose the Korean option, however, I noticed the crew being rather uncomfortable with the last passengers. I called the FA over and asked if I could switch to the western meal, and she gave a big smile and said of course. When I don’t really have a preference I like to make the crew’s life easier, and it was nice to help them avoid an uncomfortable situation a bit.
It was a good choice, and rather tasty:
My help provided me with several timely champagne refills, which helped the flight go by quite quickly. I’d saved my Air New Zealand socks just for the occasion:
The crew actually closed the curtains between first and business class during the flight, so other than the fact that the food and wine were slightly below what they would have been in first…and the lounge issue…it felt more or less like first anyways with the seat and service, so it wasn’t too much of a let down.
Immigration was pretty quick, and with no luggage checked I was outside waiting for the Korean Airlines Limo. Took a few minutes to buy a ticket and find the right route, and after about 15-20 minutes a bus came. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get to my hotel, but I seemed to remember it was a bit over an hour. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the fact it was rush hour, and it took nearly two hours to get there. Ugh. At least the bus was empty so I had two seats to myself.
It was a bit after 6pm when I finally got to my hotel, the W Walkerhill. I knew this wasn’t in the best location, however, I knew it would be relaxing and my first choice (the Westin) wasn’t available the night I needed. I got lucky, however, and received what was for me a rare W upgrade to a Cool Corner Room. The check-in agent was really helpful, helped me figure out all my transportation questions for using the hotel bus plus subway to get to dinner, which was really awesome. Strange furnishings outside the room should have warned me things were going to get weird:
I’ll save the room details for later. I headed out to meet some friends for a light dinner and drinks in Gangnam. Bright lights! Heeeeeeey sexy lady!
After dinner and a few drinks, these dancing soju bottles looked about as goofy as I felt:
I’d had just enough to drink, and made the mistake when asked what our next stop should be of saying “I want a traditional late night experience.” Then I made the mistake of saying I would “eat anything.” Off to the fish market we went…where I was introduced to sannakji…or live octopus. It gets chopped up while alive, and you eat it while the tentacles are still thrashing from electrical impulses:
What they DON’T tell you, however, is that the little suction cups still work, and attach to your throat on the way down in an attempt to hang on. Fortunately I avoided choking despite the amount of soju we’d consumed, and managed to make it back to my hotel…where the oddness of the room somehow seemed not quite as weird.
The Austin Powers bed. Unfortunately, it didn’t rotate:
Living area, and walkway to the walk-in closet, door, and washroom:
Strange uber-modern washroom:
…you can’t give me a goofy red robe and slippers that match the decor and expect me NOT to put them on:
The octopus had finally settled down for a bit, so settled down to get some sleep before what would be an unfortunately very early flight the next morning.