Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Day in Seoul... First Day With Zoe!

We arrived at the Holt Guesthouse (which also houses the Holt Reception Center) about 7AM. We got settled in our room, took showers and crashed. We said we were going to sleep for 1 hour. We slept for 3 hours. We needed it though. We had a little snack and headed down 2 floors to see Zoe.

She was sleeping when we arrived, so we talked with the workers and visited the other babies.

After about 30 minutes, she woke up and we were finally the ones visiting with and holding our girl.

We read books.

We fed each other Baby Puff Snacks.

Played with toys.

And just enjoyed being together.

After playing downstairs in the RC with her for about 2 hours, the workers said "you can take her to your house" (they meant room). They gave us some yogurt and cheese for her and we brought her up to the room and played with all the toys Mommy and Daddy brought. We ate Gerber snacks, goldfish crackers, looked in the mirror, practiced drinking from a sippie-cup and Mommy even shared her water from a real cup with Zoe.

We had a great day with her. At 4:00, they came and got her for her bath. We set out for dinner, sight-seeing and exploring this magical city. We took the subway... which was awesome and we didn't even take 1 wrong exit. We went to Lotte Department Store, which is like 4 stores in 1. Think the BIGGEST mall you've ever been to. It's bigger than that. There were thousands of people. There was a lot, A LOT, of stuff. One minute you're looking at cashmere scarves, the next, you're in a full-sized grocery store picking out your lettuce or kimchi. It was crazy.

We found a cool little place for dinner then went exploring at the Underground Market.

This place was huge. The hallways are LONG: filled with stores, shoppes, and stands: all selling their goods.

We hit the 7-eleven down there too and got some drinks (I'm in Fanta heaven) and headed back to the room. We're pooped. What a great day!


P.S. photos added soon. Blogger is acting crazy and poor Michael is already asleep.

Day 1: Travel Day... Flying, Flying and more Flying

Friday afternoon we headed to the Memphis International Airport to set off on our journey to Seoul to finally bring sweet Zoe home. Check-in at the United counter was less than helpful to say the least! When we arrived, there was a sign saying the United Airlines workers would "return shortly". Well, apparently their definition of "shortly" and mine differ ... a lot. We stood there a little over 30 minutes when another man walked up said it had been at least an hour and a half. We decided to have security page United and a few moments later we heard the announcement for the United employees to come meet their customers at their counter. At this point, quite a line had formed with us right in front. About 10 minutes later, the least friendly woman I've ever encountered came to the counter and said "you CAN use the kiosk". Well, actually, I couldn't. For some reason, you can't check yourself in when you are traveling with a baby on United. The fact that I DIDN'T have a baby on the way over and would have one on the way back seemed to be too much for her to wrap her mind around. Then she proceeded to tell us that she couldn't check our baggage because the baggage worker's hours changed and would be coming in later that afternoon. I just looked at her and replied, "We're going to KOREA, we have 4 bags to check and we have 2 carry-ons". Finally, she finished checking us in (and checking-in our bags), we were finally on our way. What a GREAT (insert sarcastic tone) start to our trip!

Our flight into Chicago was delayed about an hour and a half, but that didn't matter. We had a 9 hour layover "cushion" anyway. We had a small plane to Chicago and there was a lot of turbulence. We arrived in Chicago at the O'Hare Airport and decided not to leave the airport because it was rainy and cold outside, so we set off to find some deep-dish pizza... a Chicago must. We've both had Uno's Pizza in Chicago and it's great and we were delighted when we found Uno's on the map. We walked down the concourse to find "Uno's" was a fast-food type place with individual sized deep dish pizzas sitting in a warmer. Not exactly what we had in mind. So, we made a Plan B (life really is all about how you handle plan B) and set off towards the Food Court. On our way, we found a Chili's and that sounded GREAT to us... so Chili's it was for our last meal on American soil for a while.

After dinner, we headed over to a different terminal to check in with Asiana Airlines. While waiting, we made friends with another couple, Joan and Jeremy, who are adopting a little girl from China. They were on our flight to Seoul and then would go into Guangzhou. We had some time to kill before checking in with Asiana, so we sat in the food court and talked about our families, adoption, our boys (they have two too) and life.

When we went to check in at Asiana, about 50 of the most beautiful Asian men and women I've ever seen came out and lined up behind the counter: bowed and said "Welcome to Asiana! Happy New Year!" Then everyone queued up and they got us all checked in. There were about 300 passengers on our flight and we all sat at gate 18 waiting to board our plane to Seoul. We watched the New Year's Eve special (you know, the one with Kathy Lee, BARF!) and counted down the New Year! We knew we'd be cooped up in those airplane seats for several hours (13 to be exact), so we sat on the floor and played a game of Bananagrams.

About 12:30AM, we boarded our plane and let me just say, I KNEW the plane was huge, I knew it held about 300 passengers plus crew, but it's like this thing kept going and going. It was huge. The attendants were seriously, WAY beautiful. Not like those fat, grey-haired American flight attendants. These women were gorgeous ... and so friendly and helpful.

We set off on our 14 hour flight and I must say the accommodations on Asiana are fantastic. There is a screen on the back of every seat and there's lots to choose from... movies, games, etc. We had dinner (at what I think was about 3AM) and then we tried to go to sleep. I slept about an hour or so and was restless. I just couldn't get comfortable and with 300 people around, things were a little noisy. I slept on and off for a few hours and by then, we were flying somewhere around the North Pole. My tv screen had switched over to the flight-tracking info screen and I was fascinated by the distance we had traveled, the temperature outside (the lowest we ever saw was negative 70 around the North Pole), how long we had to go, etc. I just couldn't turn my brain off and I couldn't sleep.

Michael woke up at one point and asked me if I was okay. I just looked at him with tears streaming down my face and told him I was miserable. I was tired... so tired and I couldn't sleep. I was emotionally and physically drained and I needed sleep, but wasn't comfortable and I wanted to lay down in a BED! He patted me on the head and laughed. I took some Excedrin PM and it totally took the edge off and I got about 2 more hours of sleep.

We arrived in Seoul, grabbed our luggage (everything made it here), made it through customs, exchanged our money and found our driver. (Holt totally ROCKS, by the way for arranging this!) It was nearly 6 AM and the ground was covered in snow and ice and the driver said the roads were clear and that it had been here for 4 days. It's cold here. REALLY cold here, but you don't notice it when you're inside because the inside of the buildings are kept so warm.

We're glad to finally be in Sweet Seoul... and it really does have that distinct Kimchi smell.

To be continued...

P.S. I'm having trouble adding pics to blogger right now, so you're going to have to wait... or see Facebook. :)