Today is going to be one long day. Traveling home is never as fun as traveling to a new destination, is it? And, the distance we have to fly is longer than we have ever experienced. We got up bright and early in order to have plenty of time to eat a leisurely breakfast and make sure everything was packed and ready to go. After breakfast we checked out of our room and went to the lobby to await the shuttle bus.
The bus arrived promptly and we were on our way by 8:10 am. The ride to the airport took about 45 minutes. We checked in at the United Airlines kiosk (no line) and went to drop off our bags (no line). Uh-oh; our large bag exceeded the 50 pound limit, which would cost an additional $200. Fortunately, Clayton had purchased a backpack for dirt cheap at one of the markets so we were able to stuff it full of clothing and shoes to bring the weight of the suitcase down a bit. Whew! With both bags checked we headed to the line for immigration.
This line only took about 10 minutes but in order for us to pass through, had to show our passports and turn in departure cards. NCL didn’t give us departure cards. Fortunately, Hong Kong is more lax about immigration than Singapore, so after we explained that we had arrived via cruise ship, we were allowed to continue. Next up was the security check. This is another area where Hong Kong seemed to be more lax; Clayton didn’t set off the scanner (he has metal in his leg and always sets off security scanners). We did not need to remove our shoes from our feet or our laptop and iPads from our backpacks, either.
Things had gone so smoothly that the airline had not posted our departure gate yet (we were too early). We killed a little time in the restaurant/shopping area until we found out where we would be departing from. A brief tram ride and we were at the gate. Our first flight departed at 12:20 pm and would take almost 12 hours for us to reach San Francisco. I am happy to say that there was nothing memorable about the flight (maybe 20 minutes of turbulence) other than the fact that we were fed several times without having to pay extra. How unusual for an airline to provide meals!
We arrived in San Francisco at 8:00 am on the 26th (we left Hong Kong at 12:20 pm on the 26th – weird!) and headed towards Customs & Immigration. There was a separate entrance for Global Entry (sweet!) and we were smiling as we passed the extremely long lines everyone else was in. There were kiosks set up for GOES members. We scanned our passports, verified our information, answered a few quick questions and picked up the printout that said we had cleared immigration. We showed our printouts to an agent who waved us through to pick up our suitcases.
Suitcases in hand, we entered the customs area. Again, we showed our GOES printouts and were waved through. We dropped off our suitcases at the area to re-check baggage and headed to our new departure gate.
We had a couple of hours to wait before boarding our final 2-hour flight home. Again, everything went smoothly and we were soon landing at SeaTac airport. My daughter had dropped off our car in the parking garage so we located the car, loaded in the baggage, and headed for home! The temperature was in the 30’s (Fahrenheit). We had gotten used to temperatures in the 30’s (Celsius) – quite a shock to the system.
It was a long, exhausting day but that is to be expected. We left Hong Kong on December 26th at 12:20 pm and arrived in Seattle on December 26th at 12:50 pm. I was curious how that would affect jet lag. We managed to stay awake until 10 pm that night. I slept like a log until 8 the next morning. I think I will be on a normal sleep schedule which is what I was hoping would happen. Clayton woke up at 1 am and gave up on getting back to sleep at 2 am. He is currently napping. I hope he is able to get on a normal schedule quickly. I am usually the one that has trouble adapting after travel; I am relieved that (so far) all seems to be going well.