I must say that the toddler was not the problem in most of this. The problem was that we were “winging” it and also we were in a foreign country and also it was cold as –inject your own bad word. I will ramble on until I feel tired.
So what is the prep for this kind of thing?
Well let’s begin back at home before the whole vacation. So we did not want to take our jackets, but remembered that we had a stop over at the end of our trip and we just had to drag the coats along, as well as extra under pants, warm hats, gloves, scarves and a small bag to put it all in. (X3)
Leaving the Philippines while at check-in the agency asked us if we wanted the carriage at the stop over, no was our answer so we checked it like suitcases. So upon arriving in South Korean from the Philippines (hot to cold in 3.5 hours), we took our time deplaning. We knew we had 15 hours so no rush. We stopped by the bathroom and changed or rather added layers and the balance we added right before leaving on a bus from the airport. At 5:30 in the morning, it was busy as hell in the airport. Unlike Thailand a while back-the airport actually shut down-late night till 5 /6am. You just have to wait in a chair, which I did.
So after the clothes fix, we went through customs. Then we took our time finishing up on the layering and then we ventured outside. WTFFFFFFFFF. It was like Arctic air just appeared in that very spot. So we waited for a while then took the bus. We knew we had about an hour so we could sleep soundly (with an alarm of course)for at least a half an hour and guess what, we did. Then the reality set it. We woke up and saw that is was still dark outside and we were about to be cast into this and would have to wait till it was light outside and warmer to see anyone really. It actually hit me hard-like being lost in a country. The upside was that I knew what actions needs to be taken and I was with my family. We were not lost, just misplaced for a little. Time 7am in morning
Adventure officially begins:
We got out of the bus and got our bearings. How funny it would have looked to a driver to see a couple with backpacks and a toddler in tow. I am just thinking what I would think if I was in midtown Manhattan in my car and saw a couple with a baby in the dark. We needed to warm up to we walked to a 7 eleven. It was small but we stood for about 10 minutes and we looked at the map all while not creeping out the shop keeper. All this time, my toddler was asleep and mind you it was cold as……. whatever you want to say and still dark.
Finally we went underground and I changed my daughters diaper in a nice changing room (read my blog on that) and then we were awake at that point. We went through the underground food mall and it had all of these shops and benches-and a lowly security guard. The other strange thing was that some of the restaurants did not have doors so I could theoretically walk over the barrier, pass the register and go into the kitchen and whip myself up some eggs. So we found a bench away from the cold, somewhat, and proceeded to feed my daughter oatmeal we had made the night before while in a warm place. She ate and was ready to go. We also filled out bellies like true backpackers-with packed foods. We had managed to let an hour and change past by. We only had to wait till 9 or so when things would begin opening. We then walked for about another half an hour to the tour place and proceeded to buy tickets. YAY. For the rest of the day we carried my daughter in the harness as it was just better for being mobile and the body heat thing. We bundled her up and even had a backup plan of socks to act like boot covers–my only though was of her not freezing and her extremities at that.
We took a bus tour. Boy were we glad for that, as it kept us out of the cold and we could still see things. I slept for 10 minutes or so and then my husband and daughter slept for 50% of the ride. Upon waking we noticed some places for visiting.
When we were done we visited another bathroom close by to the tour start and again it was great. We used the family room and I was able to comfortably change my daughter and get out of the cold. We looked for a place to eat and keeping in mind a place that had food that my daughter would eat. So after walking around the business district and realizing that most things were closed and that the fancy hotel across the street was beginning to look good, we came upon Lotteria. This is like their Mc Donald’s except they seem more polite. I must say that it was decent and well, for 10 bucks (10,000 won) I felt satisfied.
At this point we could either get back on the bus and the tour again, and get off later on at this place of interest or we could walk to the things in the area. If we wanted to go right to the place it would have meant public transportation. Thus far we did not take the subway and we did not experience the crowd of people or the train madness or calmness.
So we decided to kill the time close by and the big palace thing looming in from of us deserved a closer look. The sun was out in full force now so no more icicle hands. We bought some roasted chestnuts, which we had before in Portugal, but these were a little different and so not our style. (I just threw out the nuts I brought home -3 weeks later). Since were were being selectively cheap we decided not to enter the paying part of the palace. We did see the “actors” do their practice for the “show” they would put on in the palace. Our toddler was interested in that. Later we took pictures and let her walk. She was like a new born. She kept falling. I think it was her excitement to run around and to see things so she lost her little mind.
We did a long walk and ended up in a traditional village and the walk up and down had me gasping for air. I must say that some parts were traditional and other parts reminded me of California as well as some roadside buildings in Italy, in the small towns. For that whole time, my daughter was not walking as we were in the street, going through alleys and on a time crunch. I was looking forward to sitting again. We walked all the way back -30 minutes plus to the tour start.
We used the same tour bus to take us to one of the major areas–the train station (not subway) and we could go right to the airport from there. I had babysitting duty on the fast train to the airport. As I nodded of and saw some great landscapes on our way out of the city, my daughter used my phone to watch her shows. This was thanks to the train wi-fi. Oh how I love wi-fi.
So I am not sure how the description above went. It was a little bit how to manage with a toddler and a little bit how our day went and a little bit preparation, and a little but how to use the system (s): bus, train, restrooms. I can elaborate on any part, so just comment if you wish and I will respond.
Layovers are like little adventures: you have a weird schedule, you have not home, and you don’t have time to become familiar. I did feel like a college student just with a kid in tow.
(pictures below lack people, were taken early in the day, were in the business district, were at the beginning of the New Year and was on a Sunday–so nothing much going in.)