On my way home from Daejeon. It's quite a trek. Daejeon is a bit from Seoul, and there's no direct train connection to the Incheon airport. The most convenient option is a bus service that runs directly to the airport, and take anything from 2-3 hours depending on traffic. The bus is very comfortable, with seats like you'd find in 1st class on a US airline. No problem there, except I had a 10am flight out of Incheon, and to be safe and make time for queues at checking, security and what have you, I was recommended to get the 4:15am bus. Now, I'm usually a morning person, but getting up shortly after three is too early.
I shared the bus ride with my friend and collaborator Greg, and it's was good to get some extended time to talk through some projects, and also talk about private stuff. It was good to have some time together w/o a lot of people around and no formal setting.
I was at the airport in good time, had some breakfast and made it through all the usual airport hassles with plenty of time left; I ended up spending an hour and a bit at the Asiana lounge, getting some decent coffee and doing email. Incheon is like so many things in Korea - done just right. Build in large scale. They spend what it takes to do things well here, with a commitment to be the best. Pleasant, efficient, organized. My flight takes me through Beijing - no direct Seoul - Copenhagen flight available. The leg to PEK was a on a 747, it's been a while since I was last on one of those, so that was kinda neat. I slept through the flight, and definitely wanted the flight to have been longer when we arrived (Seoul is just 1.5h).
In Beijing I made it though the many layers of security and checks; Beijing has real transit, so one can get to connecting flights here without ever entering China or leaving the international section of the airport. There's still several layers of checks, though - you have to hand in forms about swine flu and your heath situation, to people wearing masks and gloves. Foreigners are contagious, I guess. Once through all that I did some shopping, getting some traditional Chinese clothes that the kid likes.
I'm now in the Air China lounge in Beijing airport. It's really nice, good chairs, good selections of drink, fine green tea, and it's one of the few airport lounges that serve real food - and nice Chinese food at that. Only downside is that the otherwise impressive and beautiful new Beijing airport terminal building is one big thing, with lounges and shops and what have you all on various raised platforms, but with no walls. That makes for a spacious layout, but also means that there's a) constant background noise b) draft. This is a place to catch a cold w/o noticing; surely took a while before I realized i should be putting on an extra shirt (which, happily, I always carry in my carry on bag along with extra socks and other survival items for airline travel).
All in all, not doing too bad. I wish I'd had more time in Daejeon, and I'd do feel the effect of that 3am morning. I'll be OK, and I can sleep in a couple of hours when my flight to Copenhagen gets going.