Our trip home by the clock:
8:30 a.m.: Left Sokcho on a bus to Gangneung
10:00: Left Gangneung on a bus to Incheon Airport (Seoul)
2:00ish: Arrived at Incheon Airport
3:30ish: Said goodbye to Matthew & went through security
6:20 p.m.: Flight from Seoul to Vancouver, B.C.
noonish (PST); about 10 hours later: arrived in Vancouver, B.C.
7:00 p.m.: Flight from Vancouver to Portland, OR
8:00ish: Arrived in Portland
Highlights of the trip:
*After staying up until 1 a.m. getting my three large bags to weigh in at EXACTLY 23 kg, with a fourth lighter bag full to the point of exploding with toys, books, and goodies to share...Matthew checked the Korean Air website again just before we left. The baggage limit was 20 kg per bag for Liam and I, with Rowan allowed one 10 kg bag. We brought another smaller empty bag and did some rearranging at the airport. We just scraped by with no exorbitant extra baggage fees.
*Rowan fell asleep before the plane too off. Perfect. We were seated behind the bulkhead with a bassinet so I didn't have to hold him all night. Great. We hit turbulence right before dinner time, so I had to pick Rowan up, which woke him up, and he thought he'd had a great nap. He wanted to play during dinner time. Lame.
*Despite taking a Benadryl before boarding, Liam stayed awake through "Finding Nemo" and half of "Ice Age 3," then woke up about two hours before our 10-hour flight landed. Rowan went back to sleep after dinner and woke up just before...breakifast! I'm not complaining too much though. Both of them did well, with very little crying...unlike the 8-month-old baby beside us...
*Wandering around the Vancouver airport trying to find an elevator that would take me (wearing Rowan in the Ergo), Liam and the stroller loaded with carry-ons down to Canadian customs, but only finding ones that took me to dead-end boarding gates. Finally giving up and taking the escalator down.
*Standing in line for at least 30 minutes with a tired antsy toddler (and a fortunately sleeping baby), then getting snippy with the young female customs officer when she wanted to know
(a) was I traveling alone with my children today
(b) did I have sole custody of them
(c) if not, did I have a note from their father giving his permission for me to fly with the boys today
(d) if not, why? (Um...because I didn't even think about that.)
The snippiness came in when I wanted her to just tell me if she was going to keep the boys and I in custody somewhere until Matthew could be reached. She was not. She just had to question me about it. I realize it's just her job, but I was not in the mood for beating around the bush, especially since said tired antsy toddler was running around in circles by this point.
*Having to pay a porter $20 CAD because there was no way I could haul all five bags from the International Terminal to the U.S. Terminal by myself, let alone with all the above-mentioned gear/kid. He was a really nice guy, though, and I was able to just follow him in a daze rather than having to navigate through more confusion.
*Switching to a single flight from Vancouver to Portland (instead of two separate flights going through Seattle) which was supposed to get me into Portland five minutes earlier. This worked well for the most part, as it's easier to stay in one place with two little boys, instead of boarding and deboarding an extra time. However, when I went to board the plane, it was delayed 30 minutes.
*Having to call my mom collect...internationally (even though it's only like a 5 hour drive)...because the pay phone wouldn't accept either my credit or debit cards, and I only had $2 coins which the phone didn't accept and the coffee shop wouldn't ("there aren't any $1 coins in the till") exchange for me.
*Feeling grateful to the nice ticket agent who had earlier played Thomas trains with Liam (while I switched flights), then carried sleeping Liam and his Thomas backpack onto the airplane for me, since I was wearing a sleeping (again) Rowan and carrying two diaper bags and Liam's stuffed dog. Both boys slept through the entire flight, even though we were right next to the propeller. I enjoyed a complimentary NW microbrew from Octoberfest and dozed during the flight, then managed to wake Liam up enough for him to walk off the plane to the (still collapsed, thanks Horizon) stroller.
I think it would be difficult to have an uneventful flight when traveling alone with two small children. Overall, everything went quite well. The staff was friendly and helpful. Even that darn customs' agent was well-meaning.
*when traveling on Korean Air (or any other non-western airline), order the Korean (or other local) dinner option. The bibimbap was pretty good for instant airline food. The western-style beef dish did not look appetizing.
*you cannot overplan. I had a schedule planned out in my head before leaving, including when they were going to eat dinner, get into their pajamas, etc., etc. Mock me for my anal-retentiveness if you want, but I think everything went smoother because of that.
*make sure you have smaller bills in all types of currency. I had to visit the currency exchange counter with the porter because he didn't have any change available and I only had a $50.
*bring plenty of new exciting toys for kiddos. Liam got three new Thomas trains and a carrying case of small dinosaurs, which helped immensely. He also had new crayons and stickers from his friend Alex (Thanks, Brian!).
That's all (HA!) that I can think of at the moment. We've been back almost three days and, after several really busy days, the jetlag is catching up with me again. I feel like I'm on cold medication, even though I'm not. Hopefully, I can get a good night's sleep tonight and get back into the swing of things.