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Published: June 15th 2019
The Mounted Police Moose
Who knew the Royal Mounted Police had an official souvenir shop here in Vancouver?
What a day! Of course we woke up three minutes before our 2am alarm! Shower and a light brekky and then on the highway by 3.15 am. We parked down at Blu Emu, our usual car park, and caught their bus around to the domestic terminal, planning on catching their shuttle over to the international airport, but no, they don’t start until 6am and it wasn’t even 5am. So we went into the terminal and caught the train over.
We found our way down to the Korean Airlines checkin and when we arrived at the desk and the lady asked for our Canadian visas we looked at her blankly. We haven’t been to Canada since 2004, and in 2016 they introduced a visa system. She said they could take us to Seoul but not continue on to Vancouver. There is a Flight Centre at the checkin centre at the airport and we could wait for them to open or complete the visa application online. It could take up to 2 days for the approval to come through. This is something a travel agent would have seen to, but we don’t use travel agents anymore! So we wandered over to some chairs, in a bit of a shock. We were those stupid people who turn up at the airport without the necessary documents! Korean Air couldn’t check us in, of course. So we googled Canadian ETA applications and did online application. Mine took 4 minutes. Tom’s took 7 because it wouldn’t accept my Visa card and we had to use a different card. Anyway, Tom‘s came through and we joyfully returned to the Korean Air checkin and continued with the process. Our visas were electronically attached to our passportS. And the Flight Centre was still closed because they don’t open until after 6. So we continued on our way, eventually successfully boarding our full plane to Seoul for our 10 hour flight. We were pleasantly surprised at the roominess of the plane and enjoyed our flight. I watched the new Robin Hood movie and loved it - it gave a different version of the story, with a great cast which included a couple of Aussies - Ben Mendelsohn and the great Tim Minchin who brought so much to the role of Friar Tuck. Jamie Foxx was also in it, and that new guy, Taron Egerton. Highly recommended. I also enjoyed a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and Friends.
So, we arrived in Incheon - a really BIG airport terminal, and after going through the in-transit security and having my hand luggage double scanned because they didn’t like the look of something in there, we had to briskly walk right up to the far end of the terminal for our connecting flight. Of course. By now our 1 hour delay between flights was diminished somewhat. We waited just 10 minutes before boarding our next flight - on to Vancouver. This 9.5 hour flight was in a Boeing Dreamliner, our first time on that aircraft. We flew at over 1000 km/hr!! It was also roomy, although they didn’t have any 2 seater rows so we had to have a stranger with us. This flight was also quite full. This time I decided to be adventurous and try the traditional bibimbap with kimchi and seaweed soup, which was all so much more flavoursome than their versions of western food, and accompanied by little rice cake desserts similar to the ones we had in Tokyo. This did however, turn out to be the most turbulent flight we’ve ever been on. It didn’t bother us, and we made a point of trying to sleep through it, but the turbulence just went on and on. Shannon and Aaron were in Tokyo at the time we were flying across Japan, and they were having a lot of rain. Once upon a time they used to fly around turbulence, but in these cost-cutting days I think they just prefer to fly right through it.
So, we eventually arrived in Vancouver - and what a scenic airport approach with their forest covered islands, and snow capped peaks even in early summer. The arrivals hall was one huge throbbing queue house of humanity, this being the beginning of their summer cruise season. So many Americans amongst us, perplexed as to why they had to join the “foreigners queue”! They don’t realise how nicely they were being treated, compared to US customs officials!
We caught their skytrain to the city - so easy - just across the road from the airport terminal, and it took us to the waterfront in Vancouver, just 2 blocks from our hotel. We were able to check in to our room, even though it was only 2.30pm, so we went upstairs and showered (yes!!) and waited for our in-transit fog to clear a little. It was now well over 24 hours since we left home, 24 hours since boarding our first plane, and we just couldn’t understand why we weren’t a little kinder to ourselves - why didn’t we book into an airport hotel in Seoul for just one night? Why did we put ourselves on planes for 19 1/2 hours of flying? And we’ll be doing this on our return trip. That’s just asking for thrombosis! At this time of our lives I think we should be more circumspect - healthy life is something to be treasured.
After a delicious dinner (wild salmon) in the pub downstairs (served by a girl from Adelaide, of course) we returned to our room and found texts and emails from the fraud department of our bank. Of course. They didn’t like the transaction we did for my visa at the airport, so they’ve put a block on my debit card. Of course. They had been told we were travelling to the US and Canada via South Korea, but apparently I used an untrustworthy third party company based in Barcelona, Spain, to obtain our Canadian Visas. Of course. And it’s the weekend in Australia, and they have skeleton staff on duty. Of course. After 8 minutes on hold waiting to talk to them, we resigned ourselves to email communications (which may not get read until Monday), and having to use our credit card. But wait, there’s also 2 emails from NSW Opal cards (used to get from domestic Sydney to international Sydney) and they can’t top up our opal cards because there’s a stop on my Visa card. Of course. Thank heavens we have a credit card.
I’m seriously beginning to worry about this trip. Usually everything goes along swimmingly, but this trip has been fraught with so many obstacles, it’s alarming my gypsy bones! *
First off it was the original flights we booked - the company we booked through went bankrupt and the fraud department had to wrangle for 3 months to get our money back. *
a float plane operating the same tour that we will be on had a fatal crash in Alaska, killing a cruise passenger from Melbourne (Tom says that means our float plane flight will be very safe). *
Then it was our cruise company - very minor thing - they didn’t get our travel journal out to us, along with our luggage tags, in time for our departure from Sydney (and it’s only 3 days before the cruise), so we had to make up our own tags. Minor I know, but still a thing. *
And then Sophie got her spectacular news, the day before we left, that she had been accepted into the navy as an officer, and she has 4 weeks to pack up her life and get herself down to Jervis Bay. And we’re away for the first two weeks of that 4 weeks (but she has it all organised, of course, we’re just not there to support her). She’ll spend 4 months in Jervis Bay, and then four months in Melbourne before her first assignment. *
next was the oversight of our visas, and then *
the hold on my debit card.
Hopefully the bad karma fairies will pack up their bags and go home now.
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