I’m back in Seoul, South Korea for work.
I was slated to return for months. My repeated delays and cancellations were due to combinations of bureaucracy, incompetence, miscommunication (in English), inability to communicate (in Korean), apathy (mine), and a lack of urgency (not mine).
I shall spare you, Dear Friends, of the trials of the earlier travel attempts. At least, I shall spare you of them for now.
This final, ultimately successful journey came out of the last failed try. We shifted the Korean consulate handling my paperwork from Atlanta (I’m still not sure if anyone actually works there except for one woman who spoke no English) to San Francisco. This bit of rehoming required me to fly on 2 distinct itineraries: CHA – ATL – SFO on Wednesday morning, and SFO – ICN at 23:55 Wednesday.
Aside: the late night flight to Korea had me leave on Wednesday and arrive on Friday! Thank you, International Date Line!
For my itinerary to work I needed my COVID-19 quarantine exemption certificate from the San Francisco Consulate. The idea was that it would be ready for me when I landed in SFO. I would saunter to the lounge, print it off, and be ready when I could check into my flight some 8 hours later.
There was no COVID-19 quarantine exemption certificate from the San Francisco Consulate waiting for me in my inbox when I landed. Word was that it had not made its way yet from the Ministry in Seoul.
Two options presented themselves to me: return home and try again with a brand new submission; or lay up in SF and hope the paperwork arrives before the next day’s flight. I went with option 2.
Which brings us to my packing for this trip.
I wanted to bring only carry-on bags this time. The new 2 itinerary approach made it important to not check a bag. To do so would mean having to leave security, claim the bag, check it in again under the second itinerary, and again claim it at Incheon Airport.
I got very close to achieving this goal.
On my last trip I worked on a second customer. I was supposed to continue to support them from the US. That didn’t pan out, but the 2.2KG (about 5 lbs) laptop and charger I was given for the support still made it home with me. I have to return it on this trip, and that extra bulk was the tipping point.
Not that I didn’t try to carry on/gate check the suitcase I used. Sadly it is the biggest of my suitcases and Delta made me check it through to San Francisco. See below for the things I brought for my 5-ish week stay.
Another complicating factor was that I booked my flights through Delta but the SFO – ICN leg was on Korean Airlines, a Delta codeshare partner. Korean only flies the one flight out of SFO, so their ticketing desk does not open until about 3 hours before boarding with no on-line check-in option.
The suitcase contained:
- 4 sets of socks, underwear, t-shirts, and handkerchiefs
- 2 sweaters
- 3 button down shirts
- 2 trousers
- workout shorts/swimsuit and shirt
- lightweight trainers
- puffer coat, gloves, hat, and cap
- 2 Raspberry Pis
- camera tripod
- 2 camera lenses
- 2 Roost laptop stands
- Tom Bihn Freudian Slip for my Synik 30 backpack with carious pens, cables, and power adaptors
- set of collapsable plates and bowls
- 50 packs of instant Starbucks coffee in a plastic bag
- belt and neck tie
- electric beard trimmer
The Synik 30 backpack had, among other things:
- work MacBook Air
- personal MacBook Pro 15
- afore mentioned heavy laptop
- camera with lens
- Beats pro headphones
- power cords, adaptors, and cables
- emergency food stash
- business cards and ID badges
- water bottle
- coffee travel container
- 3-1-1 bag of liquids and meds
- Logitech Anywhere MX mouse
- copies of my COVID vaccination, quarantine exemption certificate, COVID test results
- Apple Watch, series 2 (work) and 5 (personal)
- travel towel
Tom Bihn Le Grande Derrière had:
- wallet with cash, credit cards
- Apple Magic Keyboard (JIS)
- Apple Magic Trackpad
- Apple iPad Mini 5
- battery pack
- Onyx Boox ereader
- various cables and adaptor
- emergency med kit (sanitizer, bandages, aspirin, &c.)
- COVID-19 vaccination card (in a rugged clear plastic bag)
Tom Bihn Handy Little Thing had:
- playing cards and dice
- eye mask
- Apple headphones
- crystalized lime and lemon packets
- beverage holders
- hot sauce
- Clothes: shoes, socks, trousers, underwear, t-shirt, button-down, travel vest, travel blazer
- travel wallet: passport with visa, receipts, cash, business cards
- phones, iPhone SE 2020 (work) and XS Max (personal)
- Garmin Instinct Tactical watch
What did I leave out that I should have had?
- HDMI cable
- Raspberry Pi power adaptor
- powered USB hub power cord
- Logitech K810 keyboard
- beard trimmer power cord
- nail clippers
- drain stopper