Who would have the time to play tennis, under -7’C temperature (negative seven! brrrr...!), 30 minutes before checking in at Incheon International Airport?
I guess somebody with a plane ticket and tennis racket would. Hahaha!
On the day I was to fly out of Korea on the third weekend of December, the temperature was -7'C. Hardly a day to enjoy the outdoors. But since my Korean tennis friend, Seung-Ho, was kind enough to give me a ride to Incheon International Airport (an hour’s drive from Hannam-dong if no traffic), doing any activity outdoors (outside the car, that is) was not in my plans. My main target was get to the airport, check in and get out of the icy cold Korean peninsula. But even though I was taking the 8PM Philippine Airlines flight to Manila, he picked me up at 1PM so we can bid our time driving to the airport, in case we encounter the usual weekend traffic. The airport is in Incheon City, a growing city (both in size and fame) west of Seoul.
Seung-Ho was giving me lift as a very nice Christmas gesture for a friend who's on his way home ....or perhaps, he just wanted to make sure I get on that plane and leave his country. Hahaha!
As we took a route different from the one the airport bus takes, the drive wasn’t boring: we drove around the burgeoning Songdo City (the soon to be completed Posco Tower was impressive!) and the paranoramic view from the Incheon Bridge (23 kilometers long!) was a delight! I highly recommend that all airport buses drive through that bridge every time! That structure is a sight to behold in daylight!
But upon arriving at the airport area before the winter dusk, we took a detour, parked the car and pulled out two tennis rackets and a bag of tennis balls! And off to the hard court where you could see planes hovering above!
Brrrrr! Running in freezing weather, with the chilly breezes not helping, I could hear wheezing alongside the whacking of the tennis balls!
A forehand shot to Seung-ho’s forehand….running to the left for a backhand….looping to his forehand….he crosscourts a forehand….I run to my right, position and drive down the line to his backhand…he tries to slice it back and misses! We both stopped to catch our breath. I picked up another ball while listening to my wheezing….
I then realized….I was enjoying this! Forehands were starting to unfreeze, fingers not numb anymore, and legs getting springy.
So we played for a few more minutes when I remembered something….it’s check in time! I was here to catch a flight! Not to win a match! Hahaha!
So I signaled that we stop and get on with the final destination. And we both packed up and head to the airport’s parking lot. We dragged the luggage from there.
At the check in counter, I met up with friend Alfa who was also taking the same flight home to Manila. I told her that I’d be asking the check in girl nicely to upgrade us to business class. And she did! Just like that! I guess the check in girl saw how tired I was from playing tennis and rewarded me with an upgrade! Hahaha!
And a couple of hours after running around the tennis court in freezing weather, I was warmly seated in the business class resting my tired legs, enjoying a salmon salad and an almost royal treatment! Hahaha!
Thanks to my good friend Seung-Ho for the ride and tennis, and to the Philippine Airlines check-in counter girl Soo-Jin for the upgrade! They both made my journey home even more fun, enjoyable and ...worthy of a blog!