Getting myself to Incheon

I'm feeling great, walking down the short hallway from where my spa treatment just wrapped up, the sensation of insane levels of relaxation still making the surroundings a bit fuzzy. Love that feeling. Sipping on the bottle of water I just got from my therapist, I head back to the locker room, get myself a shower and a final dip in the onsen hot plunge pool, then grab my things and walk past the reception. Bye bye, see you next time, thanks, and I'm in the elevator, going back to my room to pack things up and head off to the airport.

Now what I usually would do is get the Park Hyatt people to drive me to the City Air Terminal about a block away, get everything checked in and jump on the next bus to Incheon or Gimpo. This time though, I figure there's enough time to roam about in downtown Seoul for a while before getting myself to the airport and my evening flight to Hong Kong. I leave my bags with the Korean Air check-in lady at the CAT, decline to have them wrapped – a service I believe is provided by both Korean Air and Asiana when travelling in First from Seoul – and then venture down into the Samseong subway station and… well.

Bad idea.

It's an insanely hot summer day and the subway aircon is insufficient at best, not doing anything to prevent the constant feeling of being trapped in a boiling tin can. And then it turns out my nicely timed plan goes down the drain pretty much right away, I end up routing myself back and forth through the crazy hot tubes of Seoul's public transport, jumping off Line 7 at Sadang, dazed and a bit confused, following a bunch of people hoping that they, too, are about to get on the northbound Line 4. After a bazillion minutes I'm finally at Seoul station with no time to grab that relaxed afternoon dinner I was looking forward to, instead chasing down the maze of underground stairs and walkways and escalators and ticket gates and then, at last, I get to board the airport train without much time to spare, failing of course to board the express variety. But then again, I guess travelling sideways on a commuter type train with zero comfort isn't all too bad. At least I'm heading in the right direction, for once.

53 minutes later the doors open up onto the platform deep inside the Incheon Transport Centre (architecturally interesting, by the way, done by Terry Farrell back in 1996). My CAT pre-immigration check gets me swiftly through security and immigration and before I know it I'm having a nice, hot shower in the Korean Air First Class lounge. Lovely. And despite being short on time, I manage to down a few pieces of fruit and a tiny jar of Häagen-Dazs before heading off to my gate and the KE607 flight to Hong Kong.

More on that in a bit