Sunday, December 11, 2016

November 9 & 10

Ok! I'm finally starting to post these! There will likely still be pauses between posts, as we're still working on photos. Soooo many photos. As per usual, I will not be posting them all here, as blogger does not provide infinite space for thousands of photos. If you want to see more, there are more on facebook. If you want to see more, talk to me. 

Because the 9th and 10th were squished together through flying/changing time zones, they were effectively one day for us. We started from our home around 6:00 AM on the 9th and arrived at our hotel close to 11:30 PM on the 10th. But the total flight travel time (from the start of the first flight to the end of the last flight) was only about 24 hours. That's what you get when you cross the International Date Line.

Peaches was not happy to see us go.

Reeling a bit from the election news the night before, we woke early and got ready for the long travel day. A wonderful woman from church came to our home and picked us up to take us to the airport (thank you Charlene!). Her youngest son was along for the ride as well. We each took only backpacks with everything we would need in them for two weeks.

At the airport, passing through security I underwent a very thorough pat down (the kind they take you into a little side room to do). I blame it on a.) wearing a slightly bulky sweatshirt with a cowl and b.) something in the lotion I'd put on that morning. The cowl made them have to do an initial check after the routine scan, and then then when they swabbed my hands, something in the lotion raised a red flag. Thus, I now will at least try and make sure to always take off my sweatshirts when going through security. I should have known that anyway. (Somewhat ironically, in the many many times that we would pass through security checks over the next two weeks, nothing else even close to this ever occurred.)

Finally through security (Brandon chatted with a friend who happened to be passing through security at the same time while I underwent the pat down), we grabbed smoothies at Jamba Juice and waited for out flight to Seattle. We arrived in Seattle maybe fifteen to twenty minutes before Duane and Shauna. The plan was for Jaime (who lives in Seattle and with whom Angie would stay while we were in Thailand) to come through security and meet us at our flights and she'd take Angie from there. Unfortunately, her ID had fallen out at home so she couldn't pass through security. The new plan was to have someone (airport staff) meet Duane, Shauna, and Angie at their gate and then take Angie to Jaime. However, we had enough time at the airport between flights that Brandon and I (and then Shauna and Angie) decided to come through security and surprise Jaime for a few minutes. We were very happy we did. :) After catching up briefly, we said our goodbyes and passed back through security. For some reason, Shauna and I both had Pre-Check with TSA, meaning we could pass through without taking our shoes off, etc. Brandon didn't have this. To slightly expedite things, we thought we'd have him pass through normal security, but have Shauna take his bag so he'd have less to deal with. But the security lines were somewhat confusing so we accidentally sent Brandon on to the Pre-Check line while Shauna and I waited in the normal line. Brandon realized this and came back and we ended up all going through together. Through security (#2) we then met Duane at our gate, had a bite to eat, and were on our flight to Seoul, Korea!

Our first long flight (11 hours), we were fed (mediocre dinner, excellent ice cream), and watched many movies (Me Before You, Star Trek). I think I slept for about an hour on that flight.

Upon arrival in Seoul (on the 10th), we needed to pass through an International Transfer. So, we needed to change from the International Arrivals concourse (very empty, basically just long hallways to get you from point A to point B - no shops or anything) to the main departure concourses. This involved (aside from lots of walking) passing through another security checkpoint (#3). One of the most interesting parts came next. We needed to use an underground train, and everyone lined up nicely to enter each car (much more orderly than in the States). But when we then arrived at our destination, it felt like a mad rush for the escalators - to hurry up and wait, as no one actually walked up the escalators. It was very weird. And once we entered the normal departure concourses it felt like a mall! Huge spacious hallways lined with snazzy stores and bustling people everywhere. There might have been a live string quartet. We headed to our gate and patiently waited. The gate areas were slightly offset from the main shops, etc., so if felt much quieter than most US airports I've traveled through. We realized somewhat last minute that we were on the smaller end of the gate area, so when we finally went to board the flight we were a little intimidated by the very long line of people that we had to get behind. We stood in line with a very nice couple who were originally from Thailand, but now from Philadelphia.  On the plane we settled in for the five hour flight (more movies (The Man Who Knew Infinity), more food (meh), more ice cream).

Upon arrival in Bangkok we passed through immigration and customs, immediately got some Baht money, and then meandered a bit until we found the taxi stand. We got a ticket, or number came up, and then we had to walk pretty much back to where we'd started to actually find our taxi. The Taxi ride was fairly uneventful, though I made the mistake of sitting up front (armed with money and maps) so that Duane, Shauna, and Brandon were crammed in the back. It was about a 45 minute ride. Two tolls (which we paid). About $22 total. We drove from the airport into the main city and then crossed the river. Once we were very close, we then proceeded down some very small side roads back towards the river. They felt like alley ways. And I was honestly a little concerned about whether we were in the right place, or if not, what our hotel would look like. And then, amidst the empty alleys, there was our hotel - the Baan Wanglang Riverside. They greeted us with fruit and juice and took us to our rooms. The rooms were a little smaller than expected, and the air conditioning took a little while to cool the room, but they were otherwise clean and comfortable.

I slept well that night.

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