It is hard to rhapsodize about airports. But some are definitely better than others, and it could be said: the smaller the better. Certainly getting in and out of the Victoria airport is relatively painless compared with just about any other airport, even ones of similar size. Over the March break I was in the smaller airport of Danang, Vietnam, where the process was relatively smooth and uneventful, but where the facility was a bit of a relic. That will change no doubt in the coming decade, because Vietnam is evolving incredibly quickly. I also have to say, in Victoria’s favour, that the nuisance of security screening is tempered by the most agreeable security staff I have encountered anywhere.
My wife, Joan and I, were present on the opening day of the Inchon Airport in Seoul, Korea. It is huge, and on that special day there were very few other travellers, since most flights were still departing from the old airport. Beaming young women in caps and blue uniforms outnumbered us about three to one, making sure we were appropriately greeted and guided. The airport functioned perfectly. When one makes long flights, one is grateful for an airport where attention has been paid to aesthetics and comfort in addition to utility. Such is the airport at Inchon. Likewise Hong Kong, Bangkok, even Toronto. The most pleasant airport to move through is Vancouver, except for the long distances one has to walk to make an international connection. At the other end of the spectrum, you might say, is the domestic terminal in Kathmandu, which I describe briefly here on my travel blog.
Chance meetings in airports far away from home are always a pleasant shock. This happened twice to us in the Hanoi airport over the March break – once on our way in and again on our way out, a week later. On our arrival, waiting for our flight to Danang, we bumped into former colleagues from the school, Mel and Joan Jones, who retired five or six years ago after serving at the school for over twenty-five years. We had several hours to spare, because our flight was delayed, and spent it catching up and eating dismal food. Mel had some eloquent comments – as those who know him might imagine – for the cheese sandwich we were supplied to tide us over our delay.
On our way out, we were making the long trip back to Victoria: Danang – Hanoi – Hong Kong – Vancouver – Victoria. We didn’t have as long in the Hanoi airport this time, but ran into two SMUS families with daughters in both the Middle and Senior School, who were fitting in a quick trip to Singapore after their stay in Vietnam. It is easy to say that the world of SMUS is indeed a world; nevertheless when you are faced with that fact with these surprises in distant airports, it conveys that reality with more effect than words can muster.