People are surprised when I tell them I'll be here for 4 weeks. Granted, that sounds like a long time for a vacation, and it is, I supposed. But anyone who comes from Asia, and visits occasionally, and they understand. You do NOT go through what it takes to get here, and then just go back home again after 2 weeks.
So. Up until 9.45pm packing and taping 5 large boxes (two of them over 40 pounds). Up at 3.15am to load the truck and head to the airport. Stop at Enterprise to drop the truck, and load the boxes on the bus. Over to the terminal, and rent the carts to go to the American counter to check in. No arguing about the free luggage, which is nice. United always wanted to charge for baggage, even though international rules are different.
Down to security, which went well, actually, considering we have a backpack (backpack, backpack... backpack, backpack, thanks Dora) with sandwiches and fruits. We have a computer case with, well, lots of stuff. A car seat with a roller (which is nice, actually - we can drag Alex through the terminal), and we have our roller carry-on, with liquids.
Anyway, we get through quickly, and then onto the train to concourse A. Back up to the gate, and getting on a little CRJ, seats A, and B-C, with a car seat in C for Alex.
Up in the air, and some 2.5 hours later, we land at LAX.
What can I say about LAX that isn't cursing?
Yeah, not much. Tom Bradley International is under construction, sort of. That means, we have to completely leave the domestic terminal, go outside, walk down the block, into B terminal, and go back through security all over again. Whoever Tom Bradley is, he should be angry that they named this mess after him. Security is worse this time - much more crowded, and only 2 lines open for scanning.
Once through, we get to the Korean Air gates. They're kind of strange, but I guess they had to rework the gates to accommodate the A380. They reprinted our boarding passes for no good reason, and then gave us permission to board first, which is nice.
Have you seen the A380? It's huge. Two stories front-to-back, and a 3-4-3 seating arrangement in coach. The plane was new, and Korean Air is about 3 levels of service better than American Airlines. When we boarded, nice calm music was playing. An attendant personally showed us to our seats, and helped with our carry-ons. There were pillows and blankets and headphones and slippers in our seats.
Every seat had a personal entertainment system where you could watch movies or TV at your leisure, play games, check flight information, or watch any of 3 plane-mounted cameras. The tail view from the back to the front was pretty cool during take-off.
Take-off. This huge thing required almost every foot of runway to get off the ground. But it did, and the flight was ... horrible. But only because it was almost 13 hours long. All other aspects were above and beyond. This was the first time I've ever had airline food which was actually good. And they offered wine with the meals. Also, for cocktails before the first meal. Free. I've never had free wine in coach. Also, the Ginger Ale came in a special Korean version can.
Also, I think the flight attendants are paid in inverse relation to the amount of baby crying that occurs. Honestly, I have *never* seen this behavior before - as soon as a baby starts crying, an attendant is there with something on-hand to help, and they stick around until the baby is quiet.
But the flight just goes on, and on, and on...... and on. You try to sleep, but you just can't. Alex was pretty good, and he tried to sort of slept off and on, as did we. But there just wasn't any point in time where we really had a good rest. Also, it never got dark. Ever. Having "The Little Engine That Could" and "Dora the Explorer" on the iPad helped.
We overflew Japan for some reason, but looking at the track, it makes sense. We avoided going into North Korean airspace. At any rate, the final hour flew by (see what I did there?) and we landed at Incheon in South Korea, and I was so happy, and tired, and we still had another flight to go.
Incheon airport is much more of a mall than an airport. It may be that it was extra specially decorated due to the holidays; that notwithstanding, Incheon made LAX look like a dump. No, LAX makes LAX look like a dump. Incheon is what an airport should look like. Alex had a fan club - some of the girls at one of the fashion shops waved and called out to him. I had a very nice latte while waiting for the next flight, and it was the best latte I've had. And I paid in USDollars - no need for currency exchange. (Of course, that means I have no Korean currency as a souvenir - oh well).
Final flight was again on Korean Air, on a smaller A330. We decided to check the car seat, since Alex seemed to do better *not* in it. I'm glad we did. It made planing and deplaning easier to endure. The service to Vietnam was just as good, and those 5 hours weren't so bad, really. Alex finally slept, and so did we... sort of. Eventually we got to HoChiMinh city, and we were on the ground for good, at 10.30pm local time, the next day. 30 hours after we took off from Denver.
It's not like being tired or weary. It's like being wrung through a machine that squeezed juice out of a stick of sugar cane. You just want to fall over and not wake up for a long long time. And yet, you're not done.
We gathered our stuff, sailed through customs, claimed our 5 boxes, and headed out into chaos.
There had to be a thousand people milling around, waiting for people, waiting for taxis, waiting for no good reason at all, and everyone trying to be in the same place at the same time. It was 80 degrees, with about 150 percent humidity, and we found half our greeting delegation forthwith, and didn't find the other half (with the transportation) for another 30 minutes.
We did finally get our taxi, everything loaded, and on our way.
We won't talk about the hotel.