I've made some changes to my current evening patterns. I've decided to stop reading my novel, Songsaengnim: A Korea Diary, before bed. It was making me think about my past life, teaching English in Chŏnju, South Korea. I'm still thinking about my upcoming trip, still imagine how I will make my way from the airport to the hotel in Seoul, but now that only keeps me thinking about the trip for about an hour after my lights go out. And I hope that the fatigue of not having slept for several consecutive nights will eventually knock me out.
I don't know why I can't sleep, especially since I'm no longer feeling stressed about my arrival in Seoul.
I love my friends.
One of my closest friends, who I met in Korea and who helped me with the initial draft of Songsaengnim (one of the characters in the book is based on him), is a regular reader of The Brown Knowser. Because he already knew about my upcoming return to Korea through e-mail correspondence, and because he and his wife had returned to Korea a few years ago, he has been instrumental in providing me with information about the changes in that far-away country over the past 20 years.
Brad, after reading last Tuesday's blog post, contacted me: "You’re not arriving at the new Inchon Airport? You’re still going via Kimpo? I thought that was just for domestic flights now... ."
Today, there are developed islands that didn't exist in 1999. Thanks to a land-reclamation project, Incheon has not only exploded in density but in area, too.
When I booked my flight, online, I typed "Seoul" as my destination airport, and "Gimpo" was the first option that appeared. I did see Incheon listed below but I wasn't aware that these airports had switched prominence. Maybe, had the Seoul airport been spelled with a K, like it had been when I lived there, I would have seen it listed first and may have selected it.
Probably not: I'm if nothing a creature of habit, and I knew Kimpo. But Brad had shone a light over me.
"It’s a beautiful airport, and the subway into town is very fast and smooth, with non-stop WiFi!"
On my return flight from Edinburgh, in 2010, I passed through Heathrow, Halifax, and Montreal. The flight out was mercifully more direct: Ottawa-London-Edinburgh.
So it was no surprise that the fastest flight (avoiding China) was Ottawa–Toronto–Toyko–Osaka–Seoul. But that route had me arriving at Kimpo. As soon as Brad had mentioned that Kimpo was now a domestic airport, the scenic route all made sense.
I returned to the Aeroplan Web site and looked at the flights for Ottawa to Incheon, and my jaw dropped.
Where the Ottawa-to-Kimpo route is a 24-and-a-half journey, the trip to Incheon is only 17: Ottawa–Vancouver–Incheon. Instead of reaching my hotel by midnight, I would be there shortly after three in the afternoon.
Where the Ottawa-to-Kimpo route requires a subway trip that involves a changeover to a different line, the Incheon airport has a rail line that goes directly to Seoul Station, less than 10 minutes, by foot, to my hotel.
My return flight to Ottawa, via Kimpo, is scheduled to leave at 7 am, which means that I had to reserve a hotel nearby for the night before. The return flight from Incheon leaves at 4:30 pm, but because the flight is Incheon–Toronto–Ottawa, with only an hour in Toronto (the Osaka transfer is more than five hours!), I will arrive home at about the same time as the departure from Kimpo.
The decision was easy: cancel the flight through to Kimpo and purchase the flight to Incheon. I was moving from the past to the future.
While I had to pay a $100 cancellation fee, the taxes for my new flight were almost that much cheaper. I lost almost nothing.
But the best part about this plan is that my stress level, which I hadn't noticed until I re-booked my flight, had dropped dramatically. I felt I could breathe easier and my mood picked up.
Now, if only I can start sleeping again.
I love my friends.
I suspect that my stress will return the closer I get to my departure date. I always get anxious before I fly, always go a little batty until I've arrived at the airport, obtained my boarding pass, passed through security, and made it to my gate. Once the plane lifts off, I fully relax.
I'm not planning to sleep on the night before my flight from Ottawa and I welcome the unavoidable stress. Because once I lift off from Toronto, I expect to relax into a deep sleep, hoping that I can get a start on beating the jet lag that will surely come.