Wednesday, June 8, 2016

One linguist. One airport. Fourteen hours.

One linguist.  One airport.  Fourteen hours.

Our plane flew through the night--that is, we skipped Tuesday entirely.  For more than fourteen hours,  from when we left Las Vegas to when we touched down in South Korea, we didn't see any sunlight.  
I am in the Incheon airport before most of the tourist traps have opened, and I will leave after most close.
After a leisurly first tour of the entire international terminal, I found breakfast at MosBurger, which I believe I visited last time I was here.  I decided to get something tame--A shrimpburger.  Very normal.

Korea is a land of many wonders.  At the Dunkin' Donuts I found this: Grapefruit Donut!  It was truly divine.  I even managed the entire transaction in rudimentary Korean.
Last time I came to this airport, I only had an hour or two, paltry time compared to my half-day, and entirely spent worrying about my next flight.  After a brief walk or two, I assumed that the entire airport was filled with the same few stores: outrageously expensive "Fashion & Accessories", ski supplies, designer watches and all manner of posh booze.
 This time, I also discovered the chocolate stores where a bag of M&M's costs 30 dollars.  Don't worry, most of the food was actually quite reasonably priced.
 In my 14 hour stay this time, though, I've discovered some of the wonders of this airport, which I learned has been the world's best rated for about a decade now.
Just look at this quintet playing arrangements of disney songs!
 When I first came to Incheon almost four years ago, I had one goal: I wanted to find some variation on "I love Korea" to prove I was there.  Catching my connection was a nice bonus.  Alas, I never found the shirt, and after looking for one on two occasions two years apart, I concluded that no such store existed in this airport.  If it didn't cost at least 200 USD, they didn't sell it.
How wrong I was!  At last, after four years of very intermittent searching, I discovered a very Korean shirt to my liking!  Bonus points to whoever can figure out what historically significant document is encoded on it.
 I also got a tour from Jonathan, an airport tour guide, who showed me the historical and artistic exhibits the airport has to offer.  I told you it was a cool airport.

Ironically, this restaurant aptly named "Robot" was one of the few I did not eat at.  
I have never been so well and richly served by the idea of comfort food before today.  It turned a daylong airport wait into quite a rich experience--need I remind you of the grapefruit-flavored donuts?
I admit, I was too busy snapping pictures of funny Engrish and other strange things I saw, and I didn't bother to photograph all the places I ate.  But after a skip of the international dateline invalidated the idea of meals, I tried quite a few.  I mentioned Mosburger, with its amazing shrimp Hamburgers.  Joining the Dunkin' Donuts in American fare was Auntie Anne's, (which I've actually never seen outside of an airport), where I had the luxury of a proper glass of American lemonade.  Travelling in Asia will make you appreciate a good class of lemonade--don't miss the chance if ever you should come here.  Again, I'm sorry I didn't take a good picture, but in lieu of an illustration, just go buy yourself a lemonade.  Please.  You'll enjoy it more.
In general, if you find yourself travelling through the Incheon International Airport, look around for good food.  Whether you want something very American (Taco Bell) or very Korean, you will find it.
Also, as I hinted above, all the food cost what you'd expect to pay for it or less in America outside an airport.  The same cannot be said of the Las Vegas airport, mind you--flyer beware.
You might think this last picture is a lot like the first.  That's because it is.  But I took it, trying to show what an open space it was despite being not that open of a space.  But after walking around this place for half a day, I started to feel like I was outside while inside.  Wandering around a mile-wide airport terminal filled with every kind of store and restaurant imaginable, complete with people from every nation on earth, gave a whole new meaning to the Great Indoors.
I have survived the 14 hours, by which I mean it was actually really nice.  The airport has free wifi and relatively widespread outlet availability.  The food was good too, and the seats were comfy enough.  But now, a plane will come and bear me hence.  If you want to read about that, look at my post before this one. After travelling for three calendar days, I may well be too tired to write anything else about it.

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