Friday, 14 September 2012

Ride on Time

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“This is just as stressful for me as it is for you, you know,” my father tells me.

“No,” I laugh, “I think it's way more stressful for you.”

As if to continue the trend of Japan willing to let me in, but not without a fight, I managed to declare that I had none of the banned materials in my luggage and then realise just a second too late that I actually did. Jugs had given me a Zippo lighter as an early Christmas present since “like everyone in Japan smokes,” but since I do not, I had forgotten all about it. All that happened was that I wasn't allowed to bring it, but I think they suspected that I was, not so much a terrorist, but a bit of an idiot. I decided I'm ok with that. At least they let suspected idiots on the plane.

I was then thrilled to learn that there had been an error in my baggage; rather than being checked straight through to Kansai as requested, I was to pick it up at Incheon and re-check it, and since I was starting with Air Canada and transferring to Korean Air it looked like I'd be without much recourse. Finally the guy suggested I pick it up at Vancouver and then check it straight through with Korean Air, which was good, but had the side-effect of trapping me outside the security barrier, rather than transferring straight from Domestic to International per the original plan. The early-morning miracle of Air Canada Jazz put me in YVR fully seven hours prior to my next flight, and now I had to spend all of it in the open (i.e. pickpocket-laden) part of the place, with my gigantic suitcase making everything that much more difficult.

The airport, however, is not nearly as complex or intimidating as I remember it being when I was 17, and I was delighted by my own newfound navigation abilities. At some point I fell in with a Korean-Canadian kid, about 16 years old and going off to see relatives for a few weeks, and his full-Korean and extremely fretful mother. I'm pretty sure she was trying to get him to latch onto me – the older , more experienced traveller, I guess – even sacrificing a spot almost at the beginning of the line to come and stand behind me, but I think he wanted to enjoy his independence, and we lost each other in security. In no mood for a hanger-on, I was actually a little relieved.

Hands up for Kgirls

I was particularly pleased to be flying Korean Air because if Japan sunk into the ocean tomorrow, I'd move on to Korea. I'm dying to visit one day (Incheon International Airport doesn't count), and, although I might just be exoticizing, the language has a certain musical quality to it that is only compounded when uttered by a bevy of prim, pleasing young women whose job is to be accommodating.

I'm gonna get in shit for this, but can we all just take a moment to appreciate Korean women? Cause I'm pretty sure they're my favourite out of any country, and the stewardesses Cabin Attendants on this flight made me want to take back all the things I used to think about their super-oversexed commercial that played a few years back.

Because nope, that's pretty much legit how it is. With those sexy hair detailings and everything. A couple of times while waiting for the flight a group of ten or so walked past me, and I mean, like, is it possible to get high off pheromones? Cause I think I just about OD'd. Then for 11 hours I got to enjoy watching them place baggage in the overhead compartments, lean over to speak with passengers, and so forth.

Except at one point I misheard a girl's question and accidentally ordered something Western instead of bibimbap like I was thinking and I was like noooo please Noona please please don't think I'm some whitebread loser please pleeeease you're SO PRETTY.

Jugs dared me to try to ask one to take a picture with me, but I lost my nerve.

Making Connections

Incidentally, I watched Thermae Romae on the plane. I don't recommend it.

After experiencing four airports in less than 24 hours, I've grown quite confident in making my way through them. The only part I got held up in was Immigration, where I proved myself completely ignorant of the required paperwork. I was also unrested, unshaven, and unaware that the picture had already been taken while I was waiting for it to be set up, so now my foreign resident card will forever immortalize me as being haggard as shit.

Then it was off to my hotel, which I would never have been able to afford had I not scored a deal of Kgirl-level smoking hotness, and which transpired to be the type of place where you could probably occupy a full week without leaving the grounds. Then I realised: A girl on the plane (who, incidentally, was a French major returning from Paris), two Immigration guys, a Customs guy, and two shuttle drivers had all addressed me in Japanese without even batting an eye at my ability to respond. I never get that treatment in the old country.

Now I'm at the dorm.

So I guess I live in Japan now.


  1. so proud and excited for you! Airports can be ridiculous, I had my share of setbacks when going through pudong in Shanghai. But I learned a lot so I would think it gets easier each time... anyway, can't wait to hear how you settle in and how classes start!

    1. Isn't there just something exciting and romantic about the airport, though?!

      Be a few days yet before any of that really starts coming together, so I'll try to accomplish something noteworthy in the meantime.