Friday, June 25, 2010

Seoul Bound

At 4:30am we woke up in our hotel room with our minds racing. We're still a little tired, but the jet lag and time difference won't let us get back to sleep, so I'll step back 24 hours (or was it 36 hours with the time change???) and recount our trip to Seoul.

Wednesday night we were up well past midnight getting everything ready for the trip. As we lay down for sleep, we talked about how things would be changing for us very soon. Our anticipation was high and we were surprisingly calm. Normally Laura gets a little antsy before a flight, but not this time. She said she that it was surprising her that she wasn't "freaking out" (which in turn freaks her out a little). I told her it's because things are right in the world with us and Zachary. We're on the path that we're supposed to be travelling.

We left the house on time Thursday morning and headed to the airport. The drive was uneventful. Thankfully traffic wasn't a problem. As we got near the airport, what started out as a wrong turn ended up working perfectly as we found ourselves at the daily parking garage closest to the airport. We were able to park in a covered area (great for keeping the car temperature lower when we're coming out of the airport with Zachary) plus we didn't have to wait for a shuttle because we had access to the underground walkway that kept us out of the heat. So far, everything was going as planned.

Check-in at the Korean Air terminal took about 15 minutes. Because we got our tickets at the last minute, it looked like we may have to sit apart for the flight. We asked the man assisting us if he could give us seats together. He was able to come up with excellent bulkhead seating (which is what we hope to have for the return flight). After a smooth check-in and quick trip through airport security, we were at the terminal and ready to go with plenty of time to spare.

We boarded the plane and left the terminal on time. As we approached the runway, the plane stopped on the taxiway. An announcement came over the system...we were in a temporary delay due to weather conditions along our initial flight path. We didn't have storms near us, but I was worried that they might roll in before we got off the ground. After a delay of approximately 30 minutes, we received another announcement...the flight would depart in 5 minutes (we breathed a huge sigh of relief).

Other than the flight delay, the weather had secondary impact on our flight. We had to divert our flight path to bypass the storm. Originally we were supposed to fly towards the northwest. Instead we had to fly towards New Jersey before flying north then working our way towards the northwest. Our new flight path brought us over Canada, Russia, and China.

The services on the flight were excellent. We had a very nice video on demand system at each seat. There was a great choice of movies, music, games, and audiobooks. This really helped make the long flight pass quickly. Also, the food was very good. For our first meal, Laura enjoyed a meal of bi bim bap (it was excellent) while I had the beef dish. Later in the flight Laura had a dish similar to chicken parmesan and I had a pasta dish. The flight attendants also did a great job of coming around with water, juice, and soda throughout the flight to help us stay hydrated during the long, dry flight.

During the flight, we had Zachary's little photo album opened to his most recent pictures. Several of the flight attendants commented on his photos, giving us a chance to share our story. The flight attendants were great with all the kids on the flight. I'm sure he's going to get a lot of attention when we return home.

After 14 hours in the air, we landed at Incheon airport. The airport is about 20 miles west of Seoul. It was built 10 years ago, so it's very modern and efficient. Signs were in Hangeul and English, making it very easy to get through immigrations, get our bags, and walk through customs. As we left the customs area, our van driver was waiting for us with a "Townsend" sign. He had parked very close to the terminal, so we didn't have to wait long to get on the road.

Most of the drive into Seoul was on a highway. We sat back and tried to take in all the new sights along the way. We passed a mix of urban areas interspersed with lush green rolling hills and rivers. As we approached Seoul, our driver exited the highway and drove us by the Holt International offices. Holt is the Korean adoption agency that we're working through. In just a few days we'll be back at the office to meet Zachary for the first time.

The remainder of the drive to our hotel gave us a glimpse of the city. It's an amazing mix of old and new...often side by side. Small markets stand beside modern buildings with bright signs. It was a little overwhelming to our exhausted minds, but we're excited to get out and explore it.

Our van driver dropped us off at our hotel (Hilton Millennium) at the base of Mount Namsan. At the top of the mountain is the Seoul Tower which we plan on visiting to get a good view of the city. Our good fortune continued at check-in as we got a free upgrade to the executive floor. We're still not sure why, but it was a very welcome surprise. Included with our room are complimentary breakfasts every morning. This will be very convenient when Zachary's with us so that we have one less thing to worry about.

We closed out our evening by taking a short walk near the hotel then grabbing a bite to eat. As we stood looking out our hotel window at the beautiful city lights with the Seoul Tower in the background, we were thankful that the first leg of our trip had gone so well. We were exhausted but content. We knew that many adventures awaited us over the coming week.

1 comment:

Christine said...

You've waited so long for this to happen, there is no way anything could go wrong. Besides that, that "big guy" in the sky wouldn't dare go against the wishes of so many of your family and friends. So you've got it made, but if that isn't enough, your mother would be most upset if everything didn't go perfectly for you. So you see, it's all good. BIG SMILE