Hi everyone. The “how” and “why” of my, ehh, vacation (yes, that’ll do) to the DPRK were explains in the 1st and 2nd parts. From here on, I’ll cover the “whatsa matta’ wit you” topic—
The group bus made it to Beijing Airport, Terminal 2, and the whole way there, I was thinking, damn, why didn’t I order a special meal? Whenever I flew China Airlines, the one based in that laptop-filled island of 臺灣 (stick with 台湾 or ROC, buddy) Taiwan, I thought the Chinese food catering was awful, and still do, so I’d request a Hindu meal. This is just my preference of course, but getting lentils with basmati rice sure beats sifting through a sauce without a Crayola equivalent drowning melancholy chicken nibs. But hey, I’m used to flying domestic in the states, so getting anything to eat or drink, let alone a seat that won’t squish me (see below), is a swell treat.
Though if you’d like to get from Point A to Point B, (in my case, from Beijing to Pyongyang) you know, the reason for going on a plane, you have but a couple of options, Air China, gross, or 고려항공, Air Koryo, the DPRK’s state carrier. This tour was going to be served by Air Koryo, where check-in at Terminal 2 was also painless. Though, I’ll surely admit, Koryo Tours knew what they were doing, and without them (or another tour company), I couldn’t be going to the DPRK anyway, hence the relative ease in how things were executed. Back at check-in, which we haven’t left, I wanted to confirm that I was flying economy class. No worries bru, I was. That there was more than one formally-designated class on this airline was a bit jocular, though at the gate they did cross-out my seat number and wrote in a business class one. Which turned out to be a bigger seat in the business class but not the actual business class, the one with the biz meal, biz service and bizkit. That’s an embarrassing take on a portmanteau.
I’m also an aviation enthusiast, and was eagerly awaiting my first flight on Soviet aircraft, in this case the Ilyushin-62M. Foreigners were seated near the front, which seemed airier, and NKers were in the back, near where some valises and duffel bags were piled high. There’s a scene that would bring a pejorative tear to the TSA’s personified eye. Copies of The Pyongyang Times were handed out, reminding fans of the movie “Big” that they were going to the wrong Korea (photo courtesy of Elliot). Fresh patriotic beats were also piped in, but I neglected to record them due to the quixotic responses I received from flight attendants about using cameras at random points during the short hop east. Come to think of it, I wish I asked for a picture with them, but then they’d know for sure that I was a stooge.
The flight was rather uneventful otherwise, though upon landing, I knew I was in for a treat…