I currently work in Ulsan, Korea, and was asked at the last moment to attend a job-related seminar in Seoul. The one saving grace for this unplanned Sunday business trip was the opportunity to fly. So, after a long night of mosquito-induced tossing and turning, I awoke from my unsettled sleep to what otherwise would have been a glorious Sunday morning in the Land of the Morning Calm.
|Ulsan at 6 am.|
Anywho, let's get airborne!
A/Dep: 8:40 (ATC spacing delay)
L/F approx. 60%
After a short cab ride, I approached the small arrival/check-in area at Ulsan's airport and handed the attractive female Korean Airlines employee my e-ticket confirmation and passport. She recognized that I was two hours early for my flight and offered tp place me on an earlier flight that was to depart in 5 minutes. Having nothing better to do, I accepted the change and ran upstairs to Gate 1 of only two with jetways, breezing onto the plane a mere 3 minutes out of the cab. Can't do that at O'Hare, folks.
|KE1602 at the Gate|
The aircraft appeared to be in very good shape and was clean. Boarding music was Canon in D Major, which made for a strange promenade down the aisle. Legroom was ample. The flight attendants - well, let's face it, in Korea - stewardesses - were cordial and professional without lacking warmth..and they were beautiful as usual.
|At the gate|
After a minor ATC delay, we pushed back from the gate. Notably, the KE ground crew waved and gave us a courteous bow as the captain spun the plane around with vigor towards the runway. RKPU does not have a parallel taxiway, so we taxied to the end of Rwy 18 for a spirited rolling takeoff on Rwy 36.
|On the roll, rwy 36|
|On upwind 36 over the farms, Korean Strait visible over the mountains|
After levelling off at what I barely understood to be FL240, a complimentary drink service was offered by the flight attendants. We began our initial decent near Osan AB, and flew a long, scenic right downwind for 14R. The sprawl of Seoul was spectacular. My cell phone camera just cannot do it justice.
Deplaning was uneventful, but unfortunately the cockpit door remained shut. I then proceeded to the platform devoted to the City Air Terminal limousine bus, and was on the roll towards Samseongdong, ten minutes or so after leaving my seat on the plane. The bus was very comfortable, only three seats across. Enroute entertainment for this 30-minute drive included a television program at the front of the bus, and a snooty advertisement-magazine in the seatback pocket in front of me. Upon arriving at the City Air Terminal, I checked in for my flight back on Asiana, and went to snoop around the adjacent COEX Mall. After a few hours, it was time for a quick $4 lunch at the mall's food court to fortify me for the afternoon seminar. If you like Asian food, you could do far worse than the food courts at the COEX.
|Chicken cutlet in penko crumbs with slaw, white rice, gimchi, udon noodle soup, and a sauce resembling A-1|
After my work was done for the day, I had a bit of time to kill, so I decided to check out Bongeun Temple near the City Air Terminal. In the middle of this commercialized concrete jungle, the thousand-year-old Bongeun Temple is a wonderful place for a calm respite and some real culture in the neighborhood. I had almost forgotten that we are celebrating Buddha's birthday this weekend (hence the lanterns)!
The smell of incense, sounds of ancient Korean music, and scenes of the old with the young making offerings were magic for my soul, but they weren't enough to keep me from heading back to the airport early for some spotting at Gimpo.
|a sortie of A332s boarding for Pusan (a 45-minute turn!)|
|My OZ 735 coming into the gate|
Boarding the 735 went quickly, and we were greeted with some nice classical music upon entering the aircraft. While noticeably older, the 737 was very clean. The legroom was again ample but seemed less than on my earlier KE flight. perhaps it was because the plane was completely full in a one-class configuration.
|The land of OZ|
Pushback and start up were on-time, and we taxied to 32R for a rolling takeoff. Interestingly other KE 738's were making an intersection departure off of B2 or 3, but we went to the end. Maybe it was the TOW, although the runway is almost 12,000 feet in length.
Once again, a short drink service was offered after initial climb-out, with empties collected on top at FL230, though our time at that altitude was parabolic given the short distance. Notably, my seatmate was fast asleep during the drink service, but the FA placed a small note on her seatback stating that they didn't want to disturb her, but service would be offered should she wake up and request it. For a 40-minute flight, I thought this was an extremely nice touch by OZ. We approached RKPU from the north and intercepted the localizer over the massive Hyundai Heavy Industries complex where the Tae-hwa river meets the Korean Strait. With classical music playing over the PA once again, I briefly caught a glimpse of rwy 36 as we lined up and saw that we were already on glide path. Red beside white and alright, we touched down essentially on-time at Ulsan. The back-taxi took only a minute or so, and we pulled into Gate 2 about 5 minutes behind schedule. Again, the cockpit door remained closed after parking.
Overall, it seems like KE and OZ have their domestic feed down to a science - an enjoyable day of flying.
Thanks for reading, comments and questions are most welcome as this is my first TR on a.net.