It’s been almost 2 years since my last long-distance trip and it felt as if it were the first time all over again. And not in a good way. Anyway! As usual, here the story of the trip itself, something most ‘traveler bloggers’ seem to not pay any attention to.
So, the usual people came with me (or brought me) to the airport, which is my mom and her guyfriend. The very first time my whole family came along, the second time my day, mom and guyfriend. And now, it’s just my mom and her guyfriend. Mainly because my mom doesn’t want to drive to the airport but does want to be the last to see me go. 😉
The day before the flight, I already got my tickets through a text message, which meant I couldn’t choose aisle/window anymore. I had a window seat, but for the short flight that was okay. As I sat waiting in my window seat, I had a view of the luggage belt, and I now understand why suitcases always get more and more damage the more flights they survive. The guy was actually throwing them onto the belt. 😦
The flight was okay, though the guy next to me was taking up part of my seat. The guy was really tall though, he nearly had to stoop when he stood up, so it was okay I guess.
When we arrived in Helsinki, we had to get on one of those shuttle buses to bring us to the airport building, but a few people couldn’t get on. Poor them, it was freezing -10C out there! And for some reason we kept waiting and waiting, for about 10 minutes, for no apparent reason. The thing about those shuttle buses is, how do they expect all the passengers of a plane WITH handluggage to fit in one bus? Why do they even had so many seats in the buses? Could just put seats against the sides like a subway, that would make for a lot more space for both people and luggage… I do wonder who thought of all this.
I had over 2 hours at the airport, and the border check went smoothly, so I had lots of time to spare. The first thing I always do is find my gate, so I know where I need to go. I’m hoping this “gate 50a to m hall” thingy was temporary, because there’s just not enough space which makes for a lot of chaos. It’s a tiny hall where you can’t even form a line properly, and it’s not a great place to wait for your flight since seating space is limited. So I walked back up to the main building, and had to settle for Burger King for lunch. As packed as every other place, I managed to find a spot just when a couple left. Next to me sat two Chinese women with a small child, and when they left, they put all the garbage they had in their luggage onto the table and just left! No manners, these people.
I didn’t want to stay in this cramped Burger King, so I quickly finished my drink (I thought it was something like Sprite but it turned out to be sparkling water 😦 ) and walked around the terminal to get my daily steps, and of course because there wasn’t really any space to sit down anyway. Exactly the moment I sat down on the plane, my Fitbit celebrated my goal steps. Well done!
Unfortunately, I was in the middle seat, which, in my opinion, is the worst seat in the whole row. It was a 3-3-3 setup, so I had only one person one each side. Better than 2-5-2 but still a terrible experience, especially since I was sat in between 2 men. Both Russian, coincidentally, though the one of the left had his phone in German and was chatting to his woman in German. Yeah, flying alone is pretty boring so I notice random details…
I watched Murder on the Orient Express, a film I told my friend I would never want to see. The choice was rather limited so eventually I opted for this one. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but it was still not great. Too much action, as other Poirot fans had already mentioned. After this, I also watched Fresh Off the Boat again. There were only 4 episodes, but FOtB is awesome and I don’t mind rewatching! We only have the first 2 seasons on Netflix in Belgium, so I’ve watched those 3 times already while waiting for new episodes. That’s all I did really, the flight wasn’t as long as one to Japan so 1 film and 4 episodes were enough. The last 2 hours I think, I just watched the position of the plane, and at the very end I watched the view under the plane.
Usually, when the plane has landed, they turn off the inflight entertainment system, but not this time. So while the other passengers were busy standing in the aisle waiting for the line to move, I just sat in my middle seat watching the people below the plane doing their job checking the plane and making sure it was ready for the next flight. I was glad they left the screen on so this part of the whole thing was also visible.
At the border control, after my passport was scanned, the system suddenly changed to French. As if every Belgian speaks French? 60% of us speaks DUTCH! Darn it!
As I walked above the luggage belts, I instantly spotted my bright ‘mandarin red’ suitcase. It was a good choice. 😀 So I got down and walk straight to my suitcase. As quick as that!
I had a bit of trouble getting money from the ATM, as the first 2 I tried didn’t accept VISA. Then I tried a third, with no result. As I was typing my pin code, I realised I’d used the wrong one at the 3 previous machines, oops! Maybe that’s why number 3 didn’t work either…
Then I got a ticket for the wrong train (the express, so more expensive) which made it more complicated to get to my station but with the help of some English-speaking confused-tourist-helping gentleman, I got to the right station all right. Another man helped me by pointing out the escalator to the platform, so kind. The first time I came to Korea, I couldn’t count on anyone’s help, so this is a great improvement!
As I arrived at Ehwa Uni Station, I found the elevator, but all the lazy ajumma’s (middle-aged Korean women) got on right in front of my eyes, while I was there first! I had a 22-kilo suitcase, while they weren’t carrying anything! And I can assure you, they looked completely in good health…
It was easy to find my guesthouse, but the information on booking.com stated that check-in started at 2pm so I was one and a half hour early. I waited outside in the cold for over an hour, getting stares from everyone who passed. At first I wondered whether there was something wrong with me, but then I realised, of course! I’m white. Then I went back to the guesthouse, where on a paper were several means of contacting them, plus the WiFi password. That last one was really useful to contact them, and as it turned out, I could’ve done this a hour earlier! I just had to add the Line contact and I immediately got a message “Hi!!! I’m coming! Wait 3 minutes please!” Such service!
And that’s the start of hopefully many adventures in the next half year or so! ^_^