Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trans-Pacific Observations

Monday, August 3

The alarm at 0320 signified that we had reached the end of our deep, restful two hours of sleep. Time to get up and get to the airport! We frantically stuffed the remaining items in our bags and piled everything else in more-or-less logical piles for my gracious parents to deal with: donations to the Salvation Army, storage items, leftover toiletries and other assorted items up for grabs, etc. It took three cars to get us, my parents, and all of our baggage to the airport. My parents would have to return later and pick up the extra car.

It had been my plan to finish the packing on Saturday so we could relax and enjoy Sunday, but … um, yeah. So far, I’ve only thought of two things we forgot, neither of which was critical, so I suppose that denotes success enough.

I regret that we did not get a picture of our hoards of luggage – four action packers, two large suitcases, one small suitcase, one frame backpack, and several carry-ons. We had separate bookings on Continental to Houston and then San Francisco, and on Singapore Airlines to Seoul and Singapore. An earlier call to a gracious person Continental Airlines had secured for us two free bags apiece (normally $15 and $25 on domestic flights, but they took pity since our ultimate destination was overseas), and Continental has a baggage transfer agreement with Singapore Airlines so we knew we would not have to claim and re-process these bags in San Francisco. (We are so grateful, God!)

The first two flights were eventless. We arrived in San Francisco after a 20 minute holding pattern in the air due to fog. That still left us plenty of time to get to the international terminal and through security #2 before our flight time of 210pm.

Singapore Airlines had been hyped as having wonderful service, and it turned out to be so. They passed out small bags containing a small toothbrush and toothpaste and a pair of slouchy socks. We also received a full-color-covered, glossy, menu for the various meals of the flight. These included lunch, "light bites," and a "light meal" en route to Seoul (note that the "light" meal included salad, pot roast and vegetables, roll and butter, and "Chocolate delight." Maybe they meant "delight meal," because I don't consider what showed up on my tray table to be a light meal. Evan was very interested in the "chocolate delight," but as he was asleep at the time, I saved my chocolate delight for him - a Hershey bar which he eagerly devoured.

Somewhere during the flight from San Francisco to Seoul we passed the International Date Line.

Tuesday, August 4

Because we were flying west, we were ahead of the sun and it was perpetual daylight from our departure at 6am until our arrival in Seoul at 6:45pm (almost 23 hours later); there never was an “evening of the 3rd” or a “morning of the 4th.” Fortunately, for about 9 hours of the trans-Pacific flight, all window shades were down to fool our systems into thinking it was time to sleep, whatever that looks like in economy class. (I think they make you walk through business class on purpose. Those little “booths” that lay flat into beds looked tempting the first time – imagine how they looked when we disembarked after more than 12 hours. We did have an empty seat in our midst, though, so the kids took turns stretching out to sleep, so that was good.)

In Seoul we had a one hour layover – just enough time to snag the bathroom and chill out a bit.

Andie is always on the lookout for new and wonderful bathroom automation. Seoul offered one more technology to add to her list.

No more awkward paper toilet seat covers for her, no sir! :)

The flight from Seoul to Singapore was eventless as well, fortunately, and we tried to stay awake knowing that when we arrived in Singapore we would want to sleep. I watched The Bucket List and a couple episodes of "Back to You," which I never knew existed. Paul watched "I am Legend." Evan played Nintendo games and Andie ... slept. This would bite her later.

About a hour before we arrived, suddenly, it was Wednesday,

Wednesday, August 5

I have not entered the US on an international flight lately, but the yellow health information cards we received as we exited the plane in both Seoul and Singapore caused me to wonder. Do we continue to have a similar concern regarding N1H1?

When we arrived at the airport in Singapore, we realized we had not gotten our friends' street address, which, of course, our immigration document required. Fortunately, we had seen Joe and Amelia waving at us as we approached the immigrations officials, so we knew they were there even though they had walked away as we passed out of sight. Finally, an official escorted Paul past customs to where the couple was waiting and retrieved the information that would clear us to finally "enter the country."

We were so grateful to find that all of our luggage had arrived intact and loaded it up on three of those airport carts. As we passed through customs with "nothing to declare," they asked us if we had brought our entire house with us. I'm sure it seemed so.

The kids were hungry, but it was about 1:40 in the morning by then. Lo and behold, however, they pointed to the 24 hour McDonald's right there in the airport! What a grand country! Evan ate chicken nuggets and Andie had a chicken sandwich and they devoured their fries, and we were finally ready to load up.

Unable to fit six people and the contents of a house in their small Toyota sedan, we hailed a MaxiCab (stop snickering ... it's a van/taxi!) and split up for the ride home. By 3:30am (2:30pm Tuesday, Central time) we were in bed. Five hours later, the kids had had enough sleep, but it was a good thing to get up at a "reasonable" hour, right? Train our bodies to the new time zone? Though it had been long and complicated, the day had just begun.

to be continued ...


  1. So glad to hear that God has granted traveling mercies so far! Praying for you!

  2. I am with Andie on the toilet seat cover! Make sure you have Paul take care of getting the kids to bed so you can have your 12 hrs of sleep! Miss you guys! Great seeing pictures!

  3. Wow, God has definitely taken care of you with travels. He is so good! So glad it's going well so far, and I look forward to reading about all of your new adventures in your new home. We certainly miss you here though.

  4. Oh, I am not pleased with myself. I had hoped to get in touch with you before you left. ;-(

    I lost track of the days. Sorry.

    I am praying for you, and I am thankful that you can keep us updated.

    Take care!

  5. Thank you for sharing your adventures. I just returned from my week with the missionaries from around the world. It is always an eye-opening experience.



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