At the hotel, we winged it. We had a pretty good idea of his feeding and eating schedule, thanks to the info from his foster mom. So we fed him for the first time, played with him for the first time, walked around the room bouncing him for the first time. Changed his diaper for the first time, during which he peed on the hotel bed. Even though we have been working for this for years, it still felt an awful lot like we were a couple of first-time babysitters.
After a couple hours, we appraised him worthy of a quick trip to the Seoul Pizza Hut. Hold your complaints, it's only two storefronts down from the hotel, in the same block. He was fine during the entire jaunt, sitting open-eyed in the carrier watching his countrymen zip about. The manager at the Pizza Hut did some cutesy baby stuff with him while we waited for the take out. Had the same clerk girl who was so nice to us on our first visit. I don't know if this is Korean standard service orientation or just how they treat the illiterate Americans, but the clerks at both Pizza Hut and Outback reviewed our order with us after we placed it. To get through the language barrier, the pacing was not unlike how you'd talk to a two year old. "Large? Pan? Cheese? No drink. Take out." It was a fun little interaction.
I think I said this already, but I really really liked being the foreign visitor. For me, the stress about a trip like this is entirely bound up in the travel... the damn plane flights, making hotel reservations, buses and taxis and subways. Once I'm there, I get all naive and carefree and have a really great time. Walking around in a little english bubble, staring at their signs and stores and cars, always watching for the tiny details that give each culture their zest. I'd hate to think of all the places I'd go if only I didn't have to travel there. (Not to mention that the vast expenditure of this trip was the flights, which is a crime considering how terrible they are, by definition. Not counting the flight, we spent about $500 in Seoul. That includes the hotel.)
After the Pizza Hut excursion, we attempted going to bed, but Clark was clearly not into it. He fought sleep for hours, but did eventually pass out on top of Rhon. Around 3am, he needed another diaper change, and after that Rhon was able to get him to sleep directly on the mattress. I didn't sleep much at all, partially because it was my side of the bed he peed on. So about this time, I got up, showered, and started packing up. The room was a mess, since Clark had occupied every action the night before, we just weren't able to start pre-packing like we normally would on the night before an early bus to a hellish plan ride home. I started with the easy stuff: my gear, and before too long it was 5 and I woke up Rhonda. We wanted to be at the bus stop around 7.
Of course Clark also woke up, so I held him while Rhon showered. Then she held him while instructing me how to pack up everything, because under no circumstances was Clark going to sit by himself on the bed. He must have recently seen a 20/20 piece on how dirty hotel rooms really are, one of those where they pull out the blue light. But we made it in great time, checked out of the hotel, and headed across the street to the bus station.
The bus was almost entirely full; our stop was one of the final city stops on the route out of Seoul and to Incheon Airport. So we had to sit separately. I must have looked pretty lost after Rhon and Clark were given a seat, because an elderly gentleman in the middle of the bus pointed to the open seat next to him. Kamsa hamnida, I said, and sat down.
While we checked in at the airline, all of a sudden there was a huge uproar not too far away. We looked around and saw what had to be 150 girls swarming over to one of the entryways. Turns out some kind of celebrity was being escorted through the airport by security! Naturally, we have no idea who and what he/she/it was... a Korean rock star? Actor? We saw autographs being signed and lots of girls walking away laughing and high on adrenaline. I quipped "What, are the Beatles in town?" to the Korean airline guy, but in retrospect, maybe Elvis would have been a better choice. He laughed, regardless. May not have been at me, though.
No such flock of young Korea awaited our departure, but the x-ray guards did require us to take off our shoes... and in a nice cultural bonus, they gave us temporary slippers to wear for the six steps it took to get through the machine. Seriously.
I'll make this quick: Clark hated the plane flights. More specifically, he hated having to sit still. So at any point with a FASTEN SEAT BELTS sign lit, Clark was screaming. Now, he had been fussy back in the hotel, but this was full throated violent red screaming. This being our first time seeing him that upset, it hurt us like hell too. No amount of Katamari humming was going to get him through this. The magic secret was: stand up. As soon as Rhon would stand up and walk around the cabin, he would quiet down and either sit semi-comfortably looking at everyone or just fall asleep.
So on the big jetstream-assisted flight from Tokyo to Detroit, we spent a lot of time walking. To make things even worse, somewhere over the Pacific we realized just how tired we were, and Clark's required field trips made sleeping impossible. I'll describe our flight through the onboard movies:
Pre-movie entertainment. An episode of Joey and some other junk. Rhonda walked Clark. I slept, sort of.
Movie #1. Hitch. Rhonda walked Clark. I slept. I think this movie contained the most amount of turbulence, which meant Clark did the most amount of screaming. At several points, Rhonda gave up on the SEAT BELTS sign and stood up with him anyway, which always drew dirty looks and sharp language form the bitch assigned to our section. Welcome back to American customer service.
Movie #2. Robots. For some reason, Clark let us all sit for the entire film. He and Rhonda slept. I watched the whole thing. It was lame, as expected. Why so many sub-characters? And the whole movie's point was to save Mel Brooks? I felt like the movie was loading sight gags into a howitzer and firing them directly into my face. Robin Williams was in it, and I hate him. Actually, what I really hate is how movie producers keep telling him to go off-script whenever they write themeselves into a boring bit, and then go on the press junket high-fiving and talking about what how much fun it was to work with him, and what a talented improv comic he is. Now, I may have been flight-deluded, but I don't think he did his John Wayne impression in this one. I'll assume it's in the DVD edition.
Movie #3. Disney's Ice Princess. Rhonda slept. I walked Clark. Although I saw most of the movie, I heard none of it since we were floating around the cabin. Nerdy girl gets into ice skating against Joan Cusack's wishes, gets all hot by the time the credits roll. Initially rivals with Ally McBeal's daughter but ends up as fast friends. Falls during her big number but does well anywayh. Reconciles with Joan and walks off into the sunset with her and Kim Catrall, who is out there hitting family friendly features trying to tone down her Sex and the City rep, which is ironic considering Sex was done to tone up her Wasn't She In Mannequin? rep.
I thought it was kinda weird that the flight backloaded the kids movies deep into the ride. Maybe their research shows that kids conk out early and start wanting entertainment after the five hour mark. That wasn't want I saw as we marched around the cabin; I saw lots of sleeping little girls who probably would have really enjoyed watching Disney's latest use of the word "princess."
Inbetween the second and third flights, we had to officially get Clark into the US on his visa, which is valid for six months or so. Bit of a line there, and another jarring example of that classic bored-and-annoyed attitude of the average American public servant. We just came from a culture where even the goddamn shoe store clerks bow at you... and now we can't even get a social nicety out of the immigration officials.
Also weird about Detroit: we had to pick up our baggage and check it again. Your homeland security at work, I suppose.
Clark slept through the last flight. Now that we were back in the USA, the time zone change shifted us back to an hour before our Tokyo flight took off. Our entire trans-Pacific voyage was neatly erased from Eastern Standard Time! But by now, I was approaching a full 24 hours awake with only a few unsettled naps to my credit. And Rhon not too far behind!
We both picked up additional energy when we met my folks and sister at the airport. And what a homecoming! We had gifts waiting for us, the cats were happy to have us home, we had pictures and souvenirs to share... and of course the newest little Fourhman. Things soured after my family left home, though, as Clark had another rough night. We had to hold and walk him until 5am. Rhon and I could barely handle it, even in shifts... we were both dead tired after the trip. This morning I noticed several of my footprints still ground into the carpet from where I had been walking him in place. Only after sunrise could Rhon slip him onto a quilt on the floor of the living room for some true sleep. (Yes, the floor, which is where he would have slept in Korea.) We slept right beside him. Even with that awful plane flight screwing things up, Clark was still more or less on Korean time, plus you have to consider the whole new upside down world he was just forced into... new smells, new things, new people. I don't blame him at all. These first few days are going to be all about his schedule, and we'll slowly transition him to a more typical US-timed pattern.
We all got up around 3 in the afternoon, although Rhon tells me there was some bottle feedings and phone calls in there. We took him outside for a bit, gave him the big daylight tour of the place. He's still uneasy and wants to be held almost all the time. But we did get him to sit in a rocking baby chair, which he likes. In fact, he's sleeping in it right now. He's probably taking this as a long afternoon nap, Korean time. When he wakes, we'll feed him and hope we can get him into a flat sleep. On the floor, if that's what he wants.