Rajapalayam has landed…

…and I think she enjoyed the experience so much she’s voluntarily sleeping every night since in the plastic box that kept her safe for the whole 15 hour odyssey; rapid transport train, terminal trolley, conveyor belt and aircraft; 8200 km horizontal, 21.3 km vertical, 12° latitude but 25°C temperature.

I want to record a few of the issues and details of the procedure Vaga the Raja had to endure. First up was whether she could fly at all: There is a 32 kg limit (the combined weight of the dog and the kennel) for the dog to travel as checked-in baggage in the hold of the same plane. This must be the limit for all airlines I checked and seemed to be the limit for any singular piece of luggage of any description. So Vaga was 21 kg and the Kennel was 10 kg. Combined at 31 kg meant that the questions of whether I had to weigh in her blankets, piece of foam, food and water  -maybe I could slip these things in after the check-in –  or whether Vaga might add a kilo over the month before the flight – these became a little more crucial.

I didn’t consciously try and diet her but she was feeding 우주 style, which is mostly dry food, because she was in 우주’s house while outside the temperature rarely climbed above freezing or even -10 °C. Hardly the conditions to fatten up, Vaga not only refused to put weight on, she even lost a kilo, the combined weight now being checked at 30.5 kg, low enough for them not to worry about me withholding her blankets and ready-to-eat hotdog.

Rewinding to a week before: I got her papers ready from a vet in Mapu-gu. This certificate was just to confirm her rabies shot and general health. It cost ₩20000 and wasn’t even in Korean – just a clarification of the information available in the blue passports. With this certificate, I visited the Quarantine Office at the airport to get two copies of a export/clear-for-takeoff certificate. One of these is for check-in downstairs and the other is to give to the Canadians. The dog paper costs ₩10000.

Seoul Incheon Airport Animal Quarantine Office

Rewinding again to that morning and the journey began on the brand new rapid transport (Arex) to Incheon Airport. Stopping 1000 steps from 우주’s house, this was a stroke of luck because it seemed the only way we were going to get to the airport at all unless someone had given us a lift. The train was pretty much empty while the airport itself is quite busy and the coach stops outside the arrivals level of the terminal building, which was where I hanging out with Vaga before the incarceration/transportation, had loads of people around even though the subway had opened up offering a ₩5000 ticket right into town. Maybe no one knew about it.

I will certainly miss this country and all these unanswered mysteries.

Vaga travelling on Arex
Seoul Rapid Transport
Over Sized Luggage Check-In
Over Sized Luggage Check-In

After check-in we had an hour’s wait until having to leave Vaga in her kennel at the Over-sized Luggage Check-in. At this point it was 17.00 while I had to be at the gate at 17.50 before the flight took off at 18.30. She got her paperwork done and was wheeled round to a hatch through which she would dissappear. We waited until 17.30 and the hatch still hadn’t opened- I didn’t want to leave Vaga just hanging around what looked to me a random part of the airport – the staff didn’t seem to be keeping an eye on her at all, beyond the queues of people with their snowboards and boxes of Korean delicacies. But, at this rate I was going to miss the flight even if Vaga suddenly made it – if I get on the plane I can at least check with the staff that she is on board but I don’t think she would return the favour and check to see if I had made it onboard. So I ran back to the Air Canada check-in and the woman there promised that before she went to the gate to let people on the plane she would make sure that Vaga’s trolley had been wheeled off in the correct direction. Even so I hung around by a window before the walkway onto the plane to catch a glimpse of her kennel being loaded onto the plane and was reassured.

Vaga boarding PlaneThe flight itself was OK and soon enough I was waiting for her at another hatch, pushing her over to Agriculture and processing her through to the tune of $33. The first time I ever paid to get a dog out of a country and the first I paid to get a dog into a country.

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