The beginning was in the air, with the captain announcing with an Indian modulated accent of an experienced man that we will be arriving 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, for me 10 minutes didn’t sound that important but I supposed that in the airline business it could make a big difference, but anyway, after 20 hours in the air it was for sure a great piece of news to hear specially now that i have nothing left to do, as i couldn’t sleep, I spent a big part of the flight watching movies that I have already watched, talking to the Canadian guy sitting next to me or watching the cabin crew trying to keep the smile on their faces all the time, they were doing pretty well though, and just for this I would fly with Qatar airlines again, plus, they always have great prices for high quality services they give.
During those last 10 minutes in the air I stop watching the movies, I ignore the Canadian next to me and stop watching the cabin crew, I took a deep breath and through the little window I was sitting next to, I try to memorize and enjoy those few last moments in the Korean air. From above we could only see water and some land here and there, nothing of the big buildings or the large streets I was expecting.
The landing was smooth and gentle we barely felt it, we got off the plane with the same smiling faces greeting us when getting on it, the temperature was around 24 degrees and I could already hear the others complaining about the hot weather, but for an Algerian like me who has experience the African summer every year for the last 25 years, that was just another fresh nice day to enjoy. The airport seemed to be huge and and there was noway i could let myself get lost on my first day in Seoul so I decided to stop thinking and just get with the flow, as everyone seemed to know where to go, I took the long escalator to the subways as everyone else did and after 3 minutes ride we get somewhere that seemed even bigger, when in the metro I realize that I was the only non-asian in there so I start panicking thinking that I might actually have gonne the wrong way since none of the westerners from my flight seemed to be anywhere around me but a voice hit my head and scream in my ear: “hey dude, you are in Asia what are you expecting to see?” that idea assure me a lil bit but still, to be a 100% sure I decided to ask the Asian guy next to me about our destination and with a clear and perfect English he assured me that I am going the right way, I ask him where he was from and he said “North Carolina, USA” (in Asia even Americans look Asians) the guy wasn’t the social type or maybe he was just tired as I was.
We get off the metro i walk few meters to stand in the line and wait for my turn to get my stamp, non-Koreans had their own line to stand in and here I could see more westerners, just 2 minutes in the line and it is already my turn to answer the officer’s traditional question, it took her some time observing the pictures on my passport as it was taken in 2007 and I changed a lot since then (to the best of course) I guess it wasn’t easy to recognize the brand new me (LOL) a while later I get the stamp on my passport and a smiling face welcoming me to Korea and Yes! I made it to Korea, I go get my luggage and head to the door behind which my friend Hyunji was supposed to be waiting for me and to my surprise, none was waiting for me, my friend wasn’t there, I was stressing again and what happened next I will tell you about in another “Memories” post.