The first day of the journey is a very - very long day, because on our route we fly to the East, which means the day is longer than 24hours (for us who fly) since we passed through the International Date Line which scrolls us back to one day earlier. The whole thing starts in about 4AM, when I arrived at the Soekarno Hatta International Airport of Jakarta (CGK) - the team are all there by the time I arrived. Our first flight was with Singapore Airlines and departs at 6:15AM.
The check-in process was smooth (as we have checked in online and preselected our seats), but there was quite a long queue on the Fiscal Payment counter since there in only one out of four open that early in the morning (which was operated by Bank Central Asia). Went through immigration after that without much hassle, and the boarding started not so long after we arrived in the waiting hall.
Traveling together this time is me (Andrian Kurniady), Kenny Hartono, and Timotius Sakti - the team members for BiNus team in the ACM ICPC World Finals 2008. We are accompanied by Ms. Henny Suryaningsih (coach), Mr. Sablin Yusuf (Regional Contest Director - RcD), and Ms. Yenlina Prasetio (Vice RcD).
The first flight of the day was quite smooth on a nice Boeing 777-300ER, which disembarked at the Terminal 3 of the Changi International Airport of Singapore (SIN). Terminal 3 was about just 3 months old, so it was the first time I've been there and it was amazing. The decorations are quite unique, in contrast to the boring design of many other airports. The Tokina 12-24mm lens I bought few days earlier was very useful, since it enables me to photograph the interior conveniently (it's really wide enough).
Our flight to Vancouver was scheduled for departure from Terminal 3 about an hour later, so we did not have much time browsing the shops there. The security check takes a bit longer (because there are so many people - the flight is full), but after that there was some time for taking pictures.
The second segment of the trip was served by Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-200 aircraft, which was fully loaded by passengers heading to Seoul as well as those going to Vancouver. The departure process takes a significantly longer than usual time, which was due to a runway closure in SIN that caused a quite long queue of aircrafts waiting for take off. Right before we take off, there was around 4-5 aircraft queueing behind us (quite an interesting scene, but unfortunately my camera was stored in the overhead compartment thus I wasn't able to take any photos).
(The Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-200)
The series of movies available in the KrisWorld InFlight Entertainment (IFE), coupled with a meal and some snacks served makes this 5 hours flight not so boring. There was some significant turbulence upon approaching Incheon International Airport of Korea (ICN), which actually caused the pilot to cancel the first approach and decided to go around. It was the first time I experienced cancelled landing ever, as we though we will land soon but suddenly the engines were re-engaged and the flaps are closed again. The captain then come up with an announcement that basically tells us that everything was ok and the landing was just cancelled due to windshear. The second attempt to land succeeded though (I think it was some crosswind landing, the plane turned a bit left soon after it touched down).
(The departure hall of Incheon's airport)
The transit in Incheon was not so pleasant by the way. It took around half an hour to queue for the transit pass and security check, and basically left us with some fifteen minutes before re-boarding the plane (the same one, actually). I spent the time for taking some more pictures. There was also new passengers travelling from Seoul to Vancouver that join our flight during the transit.
(Me and Timo, waiting for the re-boarding)
This third flight segment of the day was around 11hours long, during which I wasn't able to sleep much. A couple of meals were served (dinner and breakfast), but nothing special happened during the flight. Basically we departed late in the afternoon, have the shortened night up there, and arrived in Vancouver International Airport (YVR) around noon. In the morning, I noticed that there was some ice formed on the wings, but it melted upon descend before landing.
There was a quite long queue before the immigration upon arrival, but the process was quick. Our baggages have to be claimed in Vancouver as we are transferring to another airline (Air Canada) for the last part of the journey, and fortunately all of them arrived in Vancouver safely. We immediately checked in for the Air Canada flight that is to depart around six hours later (thus we have some time to tour around Vancouver).
As planned, I met a friend of mine, Anastasia (an old friend from the same highschool, she came to Vancouver last year to continue her studies here). She bought me some fleece socks and a fleece glove ( which are nowhere to be found in Jakarta), lip-balm, as well as exchanged some Canadian coins for me (thanks a lot! :) ) Although we haven't planned for it before, she agrees to take us for a short tour to downtown Vancouver (thanks again! :) ). Mr. Sablin wasn't able to join us as his flight to Calgary departs at around 4pm.
We bought a booklet one-hour bus pass from the 7-11, which is "conveniently" located at the other end of the airport (the Domestic part - which is about 10-15mins walk away). The bus pass works though, each of us used two 1-hour passes to go downtown and back to the airport, and it is valid for buses and Skytrain ride as well. It took some 45minutes to go downtown from the airport.
We have about one hour to tour the downtown area, during which we visited the Vancouver Public Library (the unique orange building that looks like the Colloseum - Anastasia seems to go there often for studying) as well as Gastown. We did not plan to have a long transit during the return journey, so we tried to see as much of Vancouver as we can :D . Since it's spring, there was several blossoming cherry tree along the way too.
Returning to the airport takes another 45minutes. We said goodbye to Anastasia (thinking that we won't meet again soon since we did not plan to have a long transit in Vancouver during our way back) and boarded the plane to Calgary after passing through the security check.
The last flight of the day was on an Embraer 190 aircraft operated by Air Canada (it is actually a nice jet aircraft that is about the size of Fokker-28, which is smaller than Boeing 737 of any series). The flight was smooth and not many things happened during the flight. The inflight entertainment was great, it has touch screen and a USB slot (probably to plug in your flashdisk or keyboard - did not tried though as I was too tired to do anything). A drink was served (I ordered a cup of Sprite) but not dinner, since it is only a short 45minutes flight.
The international airport in Calgary, Alberta (YYC), although small in size, is actually quite unique. The baggage claim carousel was decorated with some mini carousel arcade on it :D. We arrived there at around 8pm, and our booked Banff Airporter (a bus service to Banff) wasn't scheduled to depart until around 10pm. Timo and Kenny wander around and bought some sandwich for us.
The bus ride to Banff takes around 3 hours (it was all highway, and the road was nearly empty at that time of day). After stopping at a couple of places in Banff (where other passengers disembarked), we finally arrived in the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel (a 5-star hotel, part of the Fairmont chain of hotels) which is the venue of the ACM ICPC World Finals 2008 - at around 1pm. It was freezing outside by the time we arrived, a few degrees below zero I guess (there was snow outside - the first time I saw *real* snow ever). The check-in process took some time (there was another teams arriving with the same bus, including Mr. Shahriar Manzoor, the famous ACM problemsetter).
The story of the day ended as we arrived in our rooms. I had a bit of problem sleeping because of the jetlag (timezone changes), and Kenny tried to connect to the internet (and having problems since his Fairmont President Club membership account hasn't been enabled for internet access).
Continue to Day 2
(All photos are copyrighted, please ask for permission before reproducing)