Jet-lagged and Bushy-tailed - Flight to BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA.
Updated: Jul 16
You know that feeling you get when you step out of the airplane, and your legs are wobbling with excitement and fatigue after a long flight. You are in a daze, while lining up to get your passport stamped, get past security and customs....then, finally, the doors open and you are FREE at last. Those first steps out of the airport...that first breath you take and it feels noticeably different. You are tired, yet wired with adrenaline, slightly lost and confused as to where to go and how to begin. That feeling is PRICELESS. Oh yeah, add 2 kids to the mix, and you go back and forth between sheer giddiness and being on the verge of completely losing your marbles. JET LAG. It is waaay more intense with kids. Thankfully, no embarrassing public freak-outs from us, and by day 3 in Busan, we were all on track. Phew!
We found a decent deal months before our departure date and flew with China Eastern Airlines. ($1,500 Cdn with taxes and fees for 4 one-way tickets) We kept our expectations low. To be honest, we have never even heard of them before. We had a 12-hour flight to Shanghai, with a 16 hr layover, then a connecting flight (2hrs) to Busan the following morning.
Leg room was as good as any, with individual screens and a wide selection of movies, shows, music and games. The service wasn't exceptional but not terrible either. We couldn't use the provided headphones for the kids as the earbuds were just too big and kept falling out. We couldn't even use the headphones we brought along as the outlet was a TYPE C with 2 round pins, not compatible with ours. Anyone with kids know that screen time on a long, international flight is almost an absolute necessity, so we admit we had a slight moment of panic. The flight attendant was kind enough to give us two headphones from first class which seemed to fit them fine. A big sigh of relief from us parents, I tell ya!
Food was probably the WORST we have ever had on an airplane. And we are not picky. It was cold, mushy, and very bland. Having said that, we would rather save money and buy cheap flights than spend extra on another airline just for better food. We brought snacks with us and we weren't starving. Plus, the kids saw a Kit Kat bar and that's all it took to win them over.
Selectively packing our backpacks had not been without challenges. But we are sure glad we decided to travel with only carry-ons. It's so nice to walk out of the plane with everything you brought along, not needing to wait for baggage or worry about whether it made it safe. We will see how long we can keep it going! (More to come about our carry-on backpacks and its contents in another post....!)
While it saves time when you arrive at your destination, going through security before departing can take longer. We've had our bags inspected both times, in Vancouver and Shanghai. We got a pair of craft scissors confiscated from the kids' bag, which somehow one of our lovely children, who shall remain nameless, snuck in last minute without our knowledge. And for some weird reason, security seems to be quite fascinated by a bunch of markers and pencil crayons and they feel the need to dump them all out each time.
The biggest loss was a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) approved multi-tool we purchased from Mountaint Equipment Co-op that got confiscated. Lesson learned. It doesn't matter whether it is TSA compliant or not, if it looks like a tool, some countries, like Shanghai, will still take it.
Security at Shanghai Pudong International Airport was extremely tight even just for a layover, with multiple photos and fingerprint scans, baggage x-rays, lengthy customs declaration paperwork, etc. In comparison, coming into Gimhae International Airport in Busan, it was a welcoming breeze and we were out the door in no time!
And so our journey begun here. South Korea is the perfect place to introduce the kids to Asia. Slightly familiar, very safe, a mix of modern and traditional, and easy to get around. There are a great many things to do with kids in this family friendly city of Busan, and scrumptious food to satisfy all appetites, from street food to restaurant meals. We stayed at Haeundae Beach for a month, and it proved to be the ideal base to explore from.