The plan in 2018 was to visit Japan for a couple reasons:
Everyone we knew who had ever been there had only great things to say about it.
We already had the Japanese encephalitis shot, so why not go before we had to get it again? Especially since I got sick from it the last time.
We love sushi.
We love temples.
Then Sal found out about a conference he could speak at in Sydney, and he had a work meeting a few weeks later also in Sydney, so we switched our plans and went to Australia instead because:
Work would pay for the Sydney portion and Sal’s flight.
See #1. That was the only reason. It’s really expensive flying Business Class that far and there was no way I was going in Coach!
That took care of the big trip of 2018, but since Japan was still #1 on our list of places we wanted to go we made it top priority for 2019. Someone suggested combining Hong Kong with Japan, so that’s what we did because we could get a direct flight there, too, and we’d arrive at night, which is better than having to stay awake all day.
1.25 hours to JFK
+45 minutes through TSA (ridiculous!)
+14.5 hours to Seoul
+3.5 hours in Seoul
+10.5 hours to Sydney
A really long time.
So on the ride to JFK we ran into traffic. Luckily we had a nice, fun driver to keep us distracted.
TSA was a complete joke. They were the worst I’ve run into, probably ever. So incredibly slow. They were pulling people’s bags if there was food in them to scan. There were more bags pulled to the side for searches than actually went through. One embarrassed woman had nine small bags of pretzels. I didn’t have food, but I had tums and my bag was scanned. Seriously? Tums?? It was at least 10 minutes between when my bag was pulled and when someone finally started checking it. I was biting my tongue the whole time. Thankfully we always leave early for flights because I’m paranoid about stuff like that happening, so time wasn’t an issue.
We flew Asiana again. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly concerned after my flight with them last time. My goal was to stay awake the first flight and hopefully sleep the second. Oddly enough, the only time I felt like the flight was dragging was when there were four hours left. I only watched one movie. I listened to podcasts and read a bit. I wasn’t that interested in the available movies. Sal got a few hours of sleep. The flight itself was fine; I did note that I am not really that much of a fan of Korean food. I prefer Thai/Indonesian/Vietnamese. The plane was a newer model, though, which was pretty good and it even had a little ‘lounge’ area with a small wall of couch seats (with seat belts) and windows.
This was our second time in Seoul in a year. We had a transfer there last year on our big Asia trip, but that time we got there late at night and this time it was in late afternoon. The place was hopping. We’d already decided to do some wandering and get some steps in to stretch our legs. It’s interesting that at a certain point in the airport they have the exact same stores again, in the same order.
There was a quartet playing; we heard Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars, and Lionel Richie while we stopped and walked around. Eventually the crowds and stores were the same so we headed to the lounge. It was super crowded and we were quite sleepy at that point.
The second flight was in an older plane, and it showed. The bathrooms weren’t as nice and the seats themselves were pretty uncomfortable. This time I got the western food and it was not very good. Luckily I was still full from the first fight. I kept smelling gas (not petroleum) on this flight. It was bad. Thank goodness I had a scarf to cover my nose when it got so bad my nose hairs felt like they were curling. I couldn’t sleep until the mystery farting stopped. Sal fell asleep pretty quickly. He claims he wasn’t the guilty gasser. I was listening to music and playing a game on my phone when I started hearing a familiar sound: Sal snoring. I didn’t have the heart to wake him up and eventually he stopped. I slept a few hours on the flight. Not as much as I wanted to, but at least I got some sleep.
We arrived in Sydney extremely tired, but when we landed we got a second wind. It was exciting being in Australia for the first time and on a new-to-us continent. Next up: Sydney!