Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whens My Vacation? Surprise! It is Now!

On the 29th of June I went to the pool with my girls for an afternoon of sun. They swam and I tanned for the whole afternoon. When we got home I jumped in the shower and when I got out Lewis had returned home from work. He was sitting on the couch looking at me with an irritated look. I asked what his problem was and he asked if I had checked my email at all today. I said no as I sat down with the I-Pad to check. Now, I was thinking that my S-I-L had emailed some crazy email to him or to me and that we were going to have to deal with her again because he was irritated. So I pull up my email and go through the normal deleting of crap when I see an email from Lewis. I open the email and it was an email congratulating him on making COE 2012. COE (Circle of Excellence) is his company's Club for top sales. This year we knew he had made his quota but we were also sure that it wasn't enough to get us to Club so we never really talked about it. The email said that we were invited to go with the company on a trip to Thailand! Then it said that we had 24 hours to decide if we wanted to go and to email them back. Lewis needed to let them know by that night if we were going to attend. Now some of you are saying Duh! you go, right? Well that was my first thought as well. Then I looked at the dates. The trip was going to be the EXACT same week as my family's trip to California this summer. That is right we were invited on a trip that was less than 4 weeks away. The trips have always been in October before but they have a new schedule which means the trips will always be in July now. So after much back and forth we decided to go. My parents would take the kids to California as planned and we already had a house sitter so Asia, here we come!

We decided that if we were going to the other side of the world we would extend our trip a little. We left a couple of days early on a Friday. We were flying Delta (which we always fly) and so our friend who works for Delta met us at the airport to say goodbye and good luck. We started in Salt Lake and flew to San Fran. Here was our delicious and filling lunch on the Delta flight:

Knowing that they do not feed you on the planes in the lower 48 we planned on eating in San Francisco once we got there. We wouldn't have much time (just 1.5 hour layover) but we could grab a sandwich and eat on the plane if needed. Once we landed we were told our flight was delayed and we had to get new boarding passes from Korean Air who would fly us to Seoul, Korea. They told us again that our flight was additionally not just delayed but changed to 2 hours later. We would have plenty of time to eat but we would most likely miss our connecting flight to Thailand. If and when that happened Korean Air would get us a new flight either that evening or put us in a hotel and fly us out the next morning. Either way we were going to be taken care of from the airline. So we went through customs again and ate burgers in the international terminal. When we were done eating we walked to the gate in time for me to buy candy and start loading the plane. Perfect timing.
The flight from California to Seoul is about 13 hours so we were in for the long part of the trip. We had a window and a middle seat, so I gave Lewis the window and I sat next to Mr. Korea. Korean Air was fabulous! Coming off of the Delta flight we were not excited to be squished into 19'' seats for 13 hours. When we got on our Korean Air plane it was like heaven. The seats had to be 24-25'' wide! We had so much leg room that Lewis' knees did not bump the chair in front of him. I was able to sit with one of my feet tucked under me it was so wide. We had individual screens for movies and lots of NEW movies to watch, including some that were still in the theaters. When you laid your seats back your butt cushion slid forward giving you a more laid back sensation. On your chair was bottled water, blanket, pillow, slippers and a sealed bag with a new toothbrush and toothpaste for the flight. It wasn't Business or First Class, but was the next best thing and it was better than any US airline for sure. The stewardesses were young, pretty, HELPFUL, and accommodating. When I had a little headache they brought me Tylenol and water with ice. She checked on me about an hour later to make sure that I was doing alright and everything. It is priceless what a little bit of actual service and kindness can do. They fed us 2 meals on this flight. Before the meal you got a hot towel to wash with, and after the meal a cold towel for refreshment. For the first meal I was safe and ate the "American" chicken. Lewis got the traditional Korean meal. Once I saw it I was glad that I had gone with my instincts. It was mush that you mixed with noodles and put goo all over for heat. Then a seaweed soup that was more salt than water and some kind of sweet treat creamy yuck in a bowl. Ahhh, chicken thanks for always being there when I need you :) Every meal on the flight came with soda, wine, juice, water, whatever you wanted. There was no getting one small glass of soda or juice and then being thirsty. The second meal was a breakfast of sorts and it was either an "omelet" or more traditional Korean food. Lewis slept through this meal and I took the "omelet". I put that word in quotes because nobody has ever seen an omelet like this one. First, it was swimming in some sort of liquid that the Koreans were sipping out of the bowl, and second it was orange in color. I took one look and put it away. I was not eating that! Luckily we had M&Ms in my purse and the candy that I bought at the airport in California.
Hours passed and my feet grew:

By the time we landed over an hour late in Seoul I had cankles, but not just cankles. My legs had swollen, my toes, even the bottoms of my feet were swollen out round. I could not move my feet at all, and I could not stand to put any weight on them either. My feet would barely fit back into my flip flops and we were told that we would need to run because they had held our plane to Thailand!!! Yes that is right people, Korean Air held the plane for 3 people. Everyone was loaded and waiting for Lewis, myself and another American businessman. Is that serious service or what? Have I said that I LOVE Korean Air? We were supposed to have a layover so the plane didn't have to wait long, but still, they waited! That would never happen in America.
Our luggage would not make it on the plane. I had planned for that and we had a carry on with swimsuits, small toiletries, a set of clean clothes each, all the jewelry, and any other necessary items. {SIDE STORIES: 1.On our COE trip to Italy a few years ago one of Lewis' co-workers had both of their bags lost on the way and they had no carry on at all so they were stuck. The husband would not let the wife buy any clothes, not even underwear!, so they had to wear the same thing for 3 days until the luggage was found. 2. My Katie went to Scotland with her orchestra teacher one year and she lost all of her luggage and had to buy stuff for like a week before they got it to her.} So now when I travel overseas, especially when there will be connecting flights I pack a small carry on suitcase with anything I might need for a day or two. Now Lewis would for sure let me buy new clothes so that we were not wearing the same thing over and over in a hot location but I like to be safe.
As we exited the ramp into the airport (It was slow going because of my feet) there was a Korean Airlines worker with a sign for us. He had a golf cart and he was going to drive us through the airport to our terminal to get on our flight. It was amazing. It was like they knew I wasn't going to make it otherwise. We jumped on and flew through the airport, rushed through security and onto the waiting plane. We backed out and were in the air in about 7 minutes. My leg swelling never went down and we had a 6 hour flight ahead of us but I was too busy worrying about the children that surrounded us to think about my over swollen, about to pop feet. Luckily once they served us a meal (I'm not sure what it was, neither Lewis nor I ate this one) all of the Korean children just watched Tom and Jerry on their screens and were quiet. The flight went fairly quickly. I never could sleep so I watched movies and tried to wish away the time. When we landed in Thailand it was 10pm, Saturday night. Remember we left at 10am Friday morning. Nothing like traveling forever to get somewhere in the middle of the night.
We got a cab and went straight to the resort. We had no problem getting a reputable cab. They blast the air conditioning so the cabs are cool and comfortable for the 20 minutes of hell that you endure on the way to the resort. I swear I thought my life was over at least twice while he was driving on these tiny, winding roads. We made it safely and tipped the guy a 100 baht or just over $3. Just as we realize that we might have made a mistake by giving him enough he shakes Lewis' hand and smiles wide and giddily hops into the car. We later found out that tipping is not necessary in Thailand, but when and if you do they really appreciate it :)
Our hotel room at the resort was very nice. The resort was newly renovated because of the tsunami a few years ago. Here is the bedroom and sitting area:

They lay out fresh local fruit for you to try:

When they make up your room each day they leave you a small gift because $1 of your hotel room cost goes to help the animals and fish that live in and around the ocean. The first night it was a starfish bean bag:

All of the bottled water in the room were bagged like this. Even though the water is "filtered" and alright to drink many locals still do not drink it so bottled water is plentiful and cheap on the island. At the hotel it was free for us:

Here is the bathroom. All of the walls were glass and then there was a curtain that you could draw for privacy:

Once we got in and settled Lewis went right to sleep. I watched the Olympics for a while and waited for an hour for our luggage to arrive. Korean Air had it sent straight to us at the hotel. They put locks on it so we would know if the bags had been tampered with as well. Have I mentioned that I love Korean Air???

Stay tuned (or don't) for more Thailand-ish adventures!

1 comment:

Natalie said...

So. So. So. Cool.

I know I can always count on you for feet pictures.