Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 Asia Mega Tour - The Longest Day

We came home on Tuesday April 19...the longest day that Wife and I have ever experienced.

We started leaving the Pooh Lee Shah Imperial Suites at around 8:30 PM Hong Kong time. It is a sad leave least I think it was sad...the act of granddaughter 2.2 showering us with confetti as we left turned her bedroom back over to her according to the Honorable Pooh is a traditional act of mourning in Cantonese culture.

Less than 45 minutes later Pooh and 2B had dropped us off for the last time at Hong Kong International Airport. We now know all of the ins and outs of negotiating this's like having learned an obscure language...the likelihood of us using this hard gained knowledge in the future is just about nil.

Our flight does not leave until after Midnight so we are checking in with plenty of time to spare.

There is no one in the check-in line. We have found out that because of a light load, they've changed the aircraft from a wide body to a narrow body plane. The new plane does not have very nice business class seats. We try to change flights but no, as we are on mileage point tickets no go. This will end up being the only bad luck we have on this entire flight.

Immigration and security are a breeze so it is off to the Business Class Lounge which (in this case) is operated by Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines has a reputation for having some of the classiest service in the skies. The quality of the food service makes the US airline clubs look like elementary school cafeterias.

For those who have followed de-Intimidator for years, this picture of Wife sitting in the airport lounge is a classic. No matter where in the world it is taken, it has this timeless quality to it.
I have to make one more rave for the Singapore Airlines Club...they offered hot, made to order soup noodles! My way of saying Au revoir to East and Southeast Asia.
Laksa - a Malay version

Then just around Midnight, the first hour of Tuesday April 19, we boarded our first flight from Hong Kong to Seoul (Incheon) Korea). There were only three of us in Business Class so we spread out. In spite of the less than optimal seats we caught a few hours sleep during the 3.5 hour flight.

Arriving in Incheon, we ended up being the first people through the immigration line. An American behind us who travels this route a lot told us we were lucky because two jumbo jets arrived just behind us. 

It's pretty quiet in the halls as it is about 5:30 AM Korean time until you get to the main transit area.

If you read up on airports, you hear that the one at Incheon is one of the best for a long layover. They actually have free tours for those who have long layovers. Unfortunately our timing wasn't good and we arrived too early. 
Ah! Here we are. The Rest and Relax area. Here among other things they have a slew of practically flat couches you can use to catch some rest or sleep. You can also 'rent' a blanket to keep you warm for free. There are free showers as well. (more on showers later)
Wife and I were able to catch another couple of hours of sleep here as well. Then it was on to the Asiana Airlines Business Lounge. While the food their doesn't match Singapore Airlines, it was still way better than the US. In fact if you look at the second picture and the guy on the far right with chef's hat...he was making fresh made fried eggs. Nice touch.

Let's talk about showers.
They offer free showers at the Asiana Club (and my understanding at the free rest and relax area). These aren't just 'showers'. These are really nice areas with a sink and toilet, and all the amenities like soap, bath gel, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, slippers, robes, hair dryers, even shaving equipment. Going into one of these after what has already been a 13 hour overnight travel experience is the height of refreshing luxury. It made you feel new and refreshed. 

Finally! Nine hours after arriving in Incheon, it is time to get on our flight across the Pacific to Los Angeles. 

We are flying an Airbus 380 which is a two level monster. 

Into the Business Class section for some of the widest, nicest Business Class lay flat seats I've encountered. 
Wife is ready to get home!
Only 6427 hundred miles to go!

Asiana Airlines service is a class act. This flight left at 2:40 PM Korean time and was scheduled to get in to Los Angeles at 10 AM. So our plan was to eat, drink and get to sleep. We were both able to get some reasonable sleep due to the accommodations, the timing, and the lack of sleep from the day before. 

We arrive in Los Angeles early! In fact during this whole trip every plane leaves on time and arrives early! Thank you Global Entry! We zip through Immigration and Customs. We walk to the United Airlines terminal. It is lovely, sunny and warm out.

Thank you TSA Pre, we zip through security.
Going to the United Club after the Asian airline clubs is like slumming it. We buy a burrito, enchiladas and drinks for lunch and part with a cool $40+...ah welcome back to the land of overpriced food.

We have a four hour layover in Los Angeles and then a two + hour flight to Denver.
Hello Denver International...I know you. (Actually I'm on pretty friendly terms with LAX too).
A beautiful sight...our fourth and last flight to home.

We used Uber to get home and it worked fine and cost less than a cab.
We trundled into home at around 8:30 PM Albuquerque time still on Tuesday April 19. So far Tuesday April 19 has lasted 34 hours and we still have 3.5 hours before the day is officially over in Albuquerque. 

We have no trouble sleeping.
The 2016 Asia Mega Tour is officially over


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Welcome back home! We have all vicariously enjoyed your travels.

alexis said...

I can't believe your epic journey is at an end! Lots of memories to keep you going til the next one I'm sure. I've enjoyed following here.

Tee said...

I don't know what you did to win the favor of the Magic Travel Unicorn Pony Whatever God, but keep doing what you're doing! Once again, I've missed most of the travel posts in real time, but will try to catch up. Welcome home!