We Made It To Korea! (sort of)
(a guest post from Phil)
Well, traveling in 2021 is certainly an adventure.
We woke up bright and early for our big trip on Super Bowl Sunday. Alas, our flight got canceled and then we had to get our 3rd COVID test before they would let us board our flights the next day.
It turns out that the 14-hour flight wasn't so bad since Amy and I each had 3 seats to ourselves. No lines for the bathroom and the Korean Airlines food was great. Amy helped me figure out what was in each of the 7 little dishes they brought out for lunch. "I think that's kimchi," she said. 7 times.
Getting off the plane was a bit like spending a day at DMV. Half a dozen people reviewed our visas, took our temperatures, inspected our COVID test results, asked us about our marriage certificate, health declaration forms, arrival cards, health insurance, quarantine apartment, local contact, etc. They took our temperatures, gave us signs to wear around our necks, and repeatedly made sure our quarantine apps were working on our phones.
We finally made it through customs (fortunately visitors are allowed to bring in bagels, challah rolls, and our other food staples that we'll need before we figure out how to order food.) Then, some police officers told us to go to a 'special area' where we were told to wait. They were very thoughtful though, not making too much of a fuss when Amy asked to use a bathroom.
Then, the officers told us to go onto a bus, but we had no idea where we were going. It turns out we were taken to a 'special hotel' for people like us. We chatted with Koreans coming back from other countries that have not exactly performed well in the COVID-19 global challenge -- Brazil, England, and South Africa.
Then, we got a COVID test up our nostrils. And another one down our throats. Can't be too careful, I suppose. The hotel folks, dressed in hazmat suits from head to toe, told us we will stay at the hotel until our results come back. We were given the room keys and we headed upstairs.
All was great. Amy and I were appreciating the Grand Hyatt's accommodations and listening to some K-pop when, all of a sudden, we heard banging on our door. It turns out that I was breaking Rule Number Two. I was supposed to be quarantined in my own hotel room. I felt like Amy had been caught red-handed with another man in her hotel.
So, I trudged off to my own room quickly grabbing my bags. I did feel more than a little guilty a few minutes later when I got a message via WhatsApp. It turns out that I had the bag with all the snacks.
It's now Wednesday AM and we're waiting for our test results before we can leave and head to our quarantine apartment. Odd sizes around here. I noticed that the beds and tables are a little lower than home. And, what I thought were washcloths were actually bath towels. (Amy says that the famous K-beauty is kicking in already, with lots of scented lotions in the bathroom.)
Fortunately, Amy is going to be OK. The hotel staff left 7 containers of what we think is kimchi in front of each room for breakfast.