Long travel day ahead!
We woke up early and were headed to the airport on our transfer around 6:45 AM. Upon arrival at the airport we checked in with Korean Air (which would be our first leg back to Seoul) and as they printed our tickets there was some confusion. Brandon and I had three tickets for the three legs of the trip, but Duane and Shauna had only been given two tickets, one to Seoul and one "direct" flight from Seoul to Las Vegas. We tried explaining this to the ticket agent, but decided we'd worry about it in Seoul or Seattle, depending on where we had time. The problem was that the flight number for their last two flights was the same - even though the actual planes were different.
Through security (#9) and departure immigration, we walked down to our gate. Seeing generally where it was from a little ways away, we turned back and got some breakfast - smoothies and donuts for us. We exchanged the rest of our remaining baht back into USD. When we finally went back to our gate, as with every other flight that we'd taken over the trip in Asia, they checked our tickets and passports at every stage of getting on the flight. They checked them at the security, at immigration, at the top of the little ramp that led down to our gate area, at the bottom of the little ramp down to our gate area, as we went through the "boarding door," and after we got on the flight. I'm not sure why they felt they needed to constantly check it at every stage, but they did.
Our flight from Bangkok to Seoul went well, about five hours long. As before, we watched movies, at a meal, and relaxed. Brandon and I had gotten tired of eating the Korean bibimbap, but it unavoidably was the only thing left when they got to us, so that's what we got. I've had bibimbap before, but airplane bibimbap is not the best, or I'm unskilled enough in combining things in the right proportions to make it work well.
Arriving in Seoul we underwent the same transfer game. We arrived and were immediately met outside the plane by some Delta agents who would lead us to the gate. This was fortunate, as we had a somewhat close connection for all that would need to happen between getting off this flight and boarding the next. Once they were sure they had everyone, we set out. We walked and walked (down the infinite hallways) and finally were led to an "International Transit" security area (#10). The reason they have these securities everywhere is because, in theory, international arrivals have access to their luggage before they recheck them and enter back into the main airport or pass through immigration. Because we never checked luggage, the redundancy of all the securities got old. Regardless, we passed through security and then raced from the gate area we came out in to the gate area where we needed to be (involving another underground transit). The Delta agent guiding us made this much easier than it otherwise would have been. Still, we arrived after almost everyone else was on. But we were on!
The flight between Seoul and Seattle was long(ish), but didn't feel too long. More movies. More bibimbop. I think I may have slept for about an hour at some point.
And then we were in Seattle! We excitedly thought that Jaime and Angie would be waiting for us outside our gate, but reality met with that quickly when it became apparent that (obviously) we would have to go through immigration and customs first. Ironically, the immigration and customs for US citizens re-entering the US through the Seattle airport was the longest immigration line that we stood in anywhere during the entire trip. Such a long line. They had an computers that everyone would enter their information into (rather than filling out a form). I'm sure the intent is probably good, but the outcome was slow. Far slower than foreign passport holders who'd filled out a form. But, after a long wait, another security (#11), we were through and exchanging hugs with Angie and Jaime! As a group we proceeded back up to the gates and sat down at Duane, Shauna, and Angie's gate to Las Vegas (not leaving for a few hours). It was lovely to catch up and look through some pictures with Jaime as well as grab some lunch (clam chowder!). Jaime finally headed out and Duane, Shauna, and Angie gathered their things to get on the airplane. As we headed over to where those with a few extra needs could get on early, a good friend spoke my name! Unbeknownst to us, Antony and Denisse (and their kids) had been waiting at the same gate and were getting on the same flight to Vegas! It was a quick and fun surprise to see them.
We waved our goodbyes and set out to find our own gate. Our gate area was much less spacious, but we were boarding before too long. The flight back to Salt Lake was one of the longest flights of our entire trip for me. I just wanted to be home and there was a lot of turbulence. But we made it and hurried down to the pick up area to meet the friend who had agreed so generously to pick us up (Ryan and Kirsten!) and take us home.
As a stark contrast, we'd left the high eighties/nineties of the weather in Thailand for the low thirties and snow in Salt Lake. Home. :)
Peaches was wonderfully excited to see us, content only when she was able to lie on our chests and rub her face repeatedly into ours. We didn't mind. :)
And with a long holiday weekend in front of us, we knew we'd have plenty of time to relax and work on recovering.
Thailand was wonderful. There was so much to see and do that we didn't have time for. You could live there for months or years and not see it all. But, it feels so good to be home, to sleep in our own beds (though, seriously, yet lag is a REAL thing), to cuddle our cat, and to be slightly less sticky every day.