Korea Trip Report Part One
Our latest adventure started on Sunday morning around four thirty. We woke up, showered and did all the last minute packing before getting in our car and driving over to my in laws house. Once there, we piled into my father in laws van while it was still dark, and he drove us out to Marina where we were going to be picked up my the Monterey Airbus.
At around seven thirty the bus picked us up. It was our first time using them and I have to say I will definitely be using them again. They greeted us and the other passengers with water bottles and got us loaded onto the bus. I will say however that the bus wasn’t exactly built for my fat ass. That of course is not the van’s fault, but for the ride up to San Jose, Rob and I got very up close and personal while the seat belt dug very hard into my right hip. After we unloaded some people at the San Jose Airport, I was able to move one more seat over and it was much more comfortable.
We arrived at SFO without incident and had a small wait as Korean Air didn’t open until ten thirty. We did some crossword puzzles and played on our phones until it was time to check our bags. Being the seasoned travelers that we are, we didn’t realize we hadn’t signed our new passports until we got up to the counter and the agent asked us to. Whoops!
With our bags headed towards the plane we waited a few minutes to drain some water bottles we had brought with us, and then headed through security. The line was long but it went fairly quickly and we were through no problem.
Then we hurried to the gate and waited. I got Rob some coffee and a couple of rag mags for the plane and settled in for the flight announcements.
Now when you are traveling to a foreign land you have never visited before and you don’t know that many people in California to begin with, you sure don’t expect to hear someone calling your name in the airport terminal while waiting for your flight. However, that is exactly what happened. As we were sitting there, a Korean woman approached us and said: “Rob?”
Rob looked up a bit perplexed and then recognized the woman as the wife of a friend of his. The place where he goes to jam sessions about once a month. Turns out, she was on the same flight and heading home for a couple of weeks. We sat and chatted with her for quite a while. It made the time more pleasant and go much faster so that was awesome.
Finally time came to board and we got settled in. We were two rows from the restroom, in the middles section of the plane where there were four seats in a row. It was roomy enough (again, my fat ass, my problem) and the seats reclined further than domestic seats that I have seen. There was a TV console in the headrest of the seat in front of you that had a very large selection of movies and music, as well as a limited selection of TV shows and games. I was excited when I saw the TV choices as they were Big Bang, Mike and Molly, How I Met Your Mother and Friends, but it turned out there were only two episodes of each. 🙁
The flight was smooth and the flight attendants were right there if you needed anything. The food came in regular intervals. Snack followed by a meal followed by another snack, another meal and then a final snack before landing. The one thing I wish they had done more was come around with more water or other beverages. I was plenty parched by the time we landed. I know I could have rung the bell and asked for some, but I didn’t want to bother them.
I would list the length of the flight as a complaint, but obviously that can’t be helped. Still, a 12 hour flight in cramped spaces is not going to be on my list of favorite things any time soon. The big complaint I had was that the temperature in the plane was not regulated in any way shape or form. It would be hot and then start to cool off and then go back to hot. Overall however, it stayed on the hot side. And there was no air vent above your like on domestic flights. I could have handled it much better if I had an air vent that would blow down on me. No such luck.
Having said that, I am glad we chose Korean Air. I can’t imagine flying any other airline that I have in the past for that amount of time without going crazy. While I wasn’t able to get a single wink of sleep, I was able to pass the time watching all the TV shows of Mike and Molly and Big Bang. I also got to watch Sisters and most of Joy (the plane landed before I could finish the last half an hour, I hope to catch the rest on the way back) and play some games. Wifi would have made the experience better, but I’ll take what I can get.
Once the plane was at the gate and the seat belt sign came off I saw people literally sprinting down the aisles to be first in line to get off the plane. Rob and I were laughing and joking at what could be that important. There were 300 plus people on the plane that had to get off, you leave when you leave. So we took our time and when we were finally ready to get out of our row, no one would let us out. In the US as far as I have experienced, there is an unwritten rule that if you are approaching an aisle where a person is waiting to exit you let them go first and then just go after them. That is apparently not so in Korea. People just zoomed past us, we had to wait for a small break in the traffic and jam our way in.
Once we got to the immigration line we realized why everyone was in such a hurry. Holy waiting line Batman! I don’t think it is always that long, but for some reason they only had like three clerks open out of at least ten. It took us about an hour to get through that mess.
Once that was done, I hit the bathroom to change out of my traveling clothes (I thought I would have time on the plane but they started the decent without much warning so I was stuck going through immigration in an oversized tank top showing off my sports bra and a pair of yoga pants. I’m pretty sure I represented America nicely) while Rob grabbed out luggage.
Rob’s brother Jim met us outside the gates and led us through the subway system until we got to his car, which we drove onto the US Army base where he lives. We got our 24 hour passes to the post and headed to his house.
For those of you that don’t know, a big part of this trip had to do with the fact that Jim and his wife Liz just had twin boys. Carson and Joshua. And if you didn’t know that, you obviously don’t read my facebook page. 😉
It was around eight thirty or nine Korean time by the time we got to the house. Jim said the babies should be asleep but Carson was awake and smiling there to greet us, having just thrown up all over his mother. He was very smiley and flirty and I fell in love with him instantly. After a few minutes, he was whisked away to bed and Rob and I ate some snacks out of our backpack before heading to bed shortly after. Sleep was such a blessing.
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