Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

Flying the ‘Greyhound of the Skies’: Adventures with Air Asia

Since noon the previous day, I’d been traveling. First by taxi, then by train, then by subway and bus for a failed Vietnam visa attempt, then another train, a plane and soon another plane.

At the 20-hour mark, I was in Kuala Lumpur; specifically, I was inside the Air Asia transfer terminal, which gave me that first feeling of being in another part of the world. And yet, it was also vaguely familiar. It wasn’t until the blown-out speakers woke me from my failed attempt at sleeping that I figured it out. It was just like a Greyhound bus terminal: dirty glass windows; blown-out intercoms that were too loud but still unintelligible; a mass of people moving at once to clear out to the gate; second- and third-rate eateries with dubious menus and even more dubious prices; uncomfortable seats filled with travelers contorting themselves in an attempt to sleep somewhat comfortably; an entire world mix of ethnicities brought together by cheap seats.

It would not have been so bad if the previous seven hours on my Air Asia flight from Incheon, South Korea to Kuala Lumpur wasn’t so uncomfortable. Dirty plane. Small seats. No free meal. . Confused flight attendants. Horrible music that came on every time I managed to sleep for a few minutes. Not even free water. Air Asia is truly the “Greyhound of the Skies.” In fact, some flights are actually cheaper than a Greyhound bus ticket, so I guess you get what you pay for.

That is, if you can figure out how to pay for the ticket. Air Asia has some major problems with accepting major credit cards on its website. Some people contend these are intentional, others insist it is just bad programming on their website. Either way, when you’re trying to pay for your vacation and only have one or two credit cards, it’s maddening.

A few more hours in this terminal, then a few more thanks to a flight delay, and I’m off to Bangkok. Luckily, the next time I board a plane (about two weeks later), it isn’t Air Asia.

Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

Alex and Chickpea Do . . . Southeast Asia?

It’s true. Right now, Chickpea is on her way to Thailand — I’ll join her at the end the week — for a whirlwind tour of Southeast Asia. And I do mean whirlwind. Between January 19 and February 6, we’ll visit the traffic-clogged, neon-lit, pagoda-stuffed skyline of Bangkok, Thailand; the ancient and mysterious temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia; enjoy a few days of R&R on the beaches of Vung Tau, Vietnam; battle motorbikes and stuff ourselves silly with pho in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and wrap up in Vietnam’s burgeoning capital of Hanoi before flying back to Seoul.

Visiting other Asian locales is a large part of an EFL teacher’s overseas stay. If you ask 10 English teachers why they came to Korea, nine will list “travel” as one of the reasons.

We’re no different. So we’re using our 2-week winter vacation to see three countries we’ve watched countless travel shows about: Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Consequently, there will not be any new posts until the second week of February. But check back here for a series of posts about our travels, including how to find the cheapest plane tickets and navigating visas to what fried tarantula tastes like.