So I'm in Incheon Airport, waiting on my flight home(!!!!). I heard about this lounge here, run by Asiana, the airline I'm flying home. Sounded pretty cool, thought I'd get here early to check it out. Of course, that also served the dual purpose of forcing me to leave for the airport several hours early, just in case anything went wrong. Which, by the way, it almost did. I mean, not seriously wrong or anything, but just like a back pimple wrong. You know it's there, and it would bother you, but it's not gonna seriously mess up prom night or anything like that. Oh, speaking of messing up prom night, boy howdy. I almost left all my luggage laying on the curb outside the airport. Not even joking. When my bus arrived I was so preoccupied with getting my backpack off the bus and making sure I still had my passport and all the stuff in my pockets, and then finding my check-in point and so on and so forth... well, ha. I got my backpack, neglecting the giant bag and suitcase that I had stashed under the bus in Icheon, y'know, for safe-keeping and all, and headed on inside. Made it past the doors, was on my way to the information desk, when all of a sudden it hit me. Walking was waaaay too easy. I turn around and sure enough the bus driver is standing there, my bags laying next to him, looking bewildered. He was all set to just get back on the bus and head off when I came running up. Blushing profusely, I just kinda smiled, picked up my bags, and walked away. Woulda been a hell of a start to the trip, no?
Nevertheless, crisis averted.
Check-in, security, immigration, all that was a breeze. Seriously amazing airport they've got here. Literally 10 minutes from finding Asiana's check-in desk, which by the way had like 60 agents working and no lines whatsoever, I was all stamped and secured and on my way to the gate.
I had heard something about this lounge run by Asiana here, basically a business-class type lounge except anyone can go in. Sounded pretty cool. Thought I'd check it out. On a scale of 1 to Grey Goose, I give this place a Svedka. Not as hip or popular, definitely not too expensive, but convenient, cheap, good vibe and definitely gets the job done. So here's the skinny: $20 to get in. Yes, even though it's a Korean airline, operating in a Korean airport, she asked me for, well, to be perfectly honest, she asked me for 21 dollars, not 20. But still... that was weird. Good thing I changed some money before I left Janghowon. Had to take advantage of that exchange rate while the getting was good, ya know? So, I dropped her a couple dead presidents and I'm in the door. It's mostly comfy chairs and small round tables, with windows overlooking the ticketing area on the floor below us. It's a bustling, yet somehow soothing sight. Some kind of schadenfreude, probably, but watching other people stress the hell out from a comfortable vantage point brings its own kind of joy. Just the way it is.
Anyway, I sat down at a table and plugged in the ole trusty laptop. So far so good. I notice an espresso machine, grinning at me amiably from the counter. I go over to shake his hand, and like a maitre d' at a fine french restaurant, come away clutching an ill-gotten gain in my right hand. Complimentary cafe latte, all the way, baby. Giddy up. Feeling pretty good, right about now. Drank the coffee, surfed the web, and rubbed my hands together, grinning evilly like Donald McScrooge. Now feeling self-satisfied and alert, I took a better look around. 20 feet to my right is a little buffet table. I hadn't eaten since about 8:00 (it was, at this point, like 1:30 -- hungry-time, in other words), so I went and loaded up a plate. Paella (not great, but certainly passable), German sausage with mustard, mini spring rolls, finger sandwiches, fixins for bibimbap (mixed rice with veggies and chili paste), cream of potato soup... all in all, not a bad spread, and quite international in the spirit of my season. Sated, I turned my attention to the non-coffee drinks available.
There is a Coke fountain machine next to the espresso maker, and a fridge filled with juice and water and oh lord god there's beer in there. And what's that next to it? Is that, bottles of freaking booze, just sitting out waiting for anybody and their dog to get a drink? What the hell kind of Christmas miracle have I stumbled upon here? Sure enough, an ice bucket, emblazoned with the Dewar's logo, just sitting there all smug and shit, knowing what's about to happen. I mean, what could I do? I'd obviously already paid to be here. There's low-ball glasses, Jack Daniels, ice, and Coke all within a 10-foot radius. There was simply nothing else to be done at that point. At least, that's what I'm telling myself as I sip on an icy cold Jack n Coke and type up this here airport lounge review. You, on the other hand, can think what you like. I'm happy here, and that's all there is to it. I give it 2 over-enthusiastic thumbs up. And next time I leave the country, I am most certainly, definitely and without a doubt coming back here. I'd recommend you do the same, should you ever find yourself at Incheon Airport on a stopover with Asiana Airlines. Seriously, do it do it.
Oh, and also, I'm excited to be going home! First plans -- my little cousin's 14th(? wow!) birthday party later tonight, hitting up some old haunts to meet up with friends and catch the Bears game tomorrow, then lunch with Em on Monday, and then catching the train home to Marion Monday night. On tap for Marion: spending time with my folks, meeting Adam and Felicia's little girl (my adopted niece), family Christmases, meeting my real niece (and accompanying sister-in-law) for the first time, lots of relaxing, and who knows what else? The universe (or at least the hub of it) is my oyster.