Good morning, Incheon! We are finally on our final leg of this trip – to Kota Kinabalu! I can’t believe it’s been 3 days since we left Ottawa and we’re still “in transit”. We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. They were very strict with covid practices here and it was mandatory that everyone wear a mask in the restaurant except for when eating. At the buffet stations, they even had plastic gloves for you to wear when handling the serving spoons/tongs. There was a good selection of western foods (eggs, sausages, breast, yogurt bar, salad) as well as Korean food (dumplings, stews, banchan, rice, noodle soup, congee). The pancake however, was very sadly dense and dry and I would not recommend. I tried a bit of everything but enjoyed the beef radish soup, kimchi mandoo, rice with various side dishes (especially the cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi), pork belly and bean sprouts the most. Due to food allergies, the baby wasn’t able to try too much of the buffet, we were able to safely serve her some roasted seaweed and fruits as those had the lowest risk of cross-contamination. We had also given her some instant oatmeal this morning that we had packed.
Our hotel was connected to Lotte Mart, a popular department store here, so we headed over and got some essentials as our family members were missing their luggage. FYI, we placed air tags on the luggages and they are still all in Toronto. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be putting a baggage status tracker here until they all (hopefully) arrive.
Baggage status: Baggage status: 1/3 in Tokyo?, 1/3 in Incheon, 1/3 in Toronto?
After a quick nap for the baby and packing for us, it was time to board another taxi back to the airport for our final flight to Kota Kinabalu. We were flying with JinAir today and arrived 3 hours earlier as we had previously bad experiences with ICN airport. The line up was long and we were able to check in our bags after 40 minutes. We were then told to wait 5 minutes for “baggage inspection” afterwards. I had no idea what was going on and how people would know that their bags were selected for inspection. We saw some people standing outside a door and were called in one at a time for “baggage inspection”. There wasn’t a long line up so it seems like it’s for a select few but again there were no screens and no announcements, so I don’t know how these people knew they were to stand in front of that door. After that confusing experience, we breezed through security again via the priority line. A couple of us had the Dragonpass (previously Priority Pass) but Aaron feels that lounges don’t tend to provide amazing food, so we headed to the food court instead on the 4th floor. It was packed but we were able to get a table after some hovering. The food options were Vietnamese, Korean and Taco Bell lol. We, of course, wanted Korean, so we each got a set meal of various stews, side dishes (black beans, marinated quail’s eggs, kimchi) and rice. I could eat this type of meal all the time! I particularly liked the quail’s egg and black bean banchan. We also ordered some fried mandoo to share and I don’t usually like fried dumplings but the filling was quite tasty and the side dish (pickled radish) was so delicious.
After allowing baby to run around in the play area and doing a final change in their very clean and well equipped “baby care facility” we were at the gate. I was initially disappointed that there weren’t a lot of “family rooms” at the washrooms but these facilities which are few and far between in the airport are a lovely option if you have a baby to care for. They have a changing area, 4 nursing rooms, and a resting/bottle preparing area as well.
We were finally on the flight to Kota Kinabalu. We were very fortunately this flight as baby was sleeping for most of it and I was able to catch up on much needed sleep as well as do some blogging. Because this is a low budget airline (JinAir), there was no seatback entertainment or much in terms of service. The flight attendants did go up and down the aisle quite a few times to sell duty-free goods and snacks/drinks for purchase. Aaron purchased the sweet and spicy dried squid snack and peach collegen drink which were both tasty. If you want just plain old water though they often forget and you will have to physically go up to the galley to ask them. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long flight and soon, we arrived at BKI (Kota Kinabalu International Airport).
Here, we finally didn’t have to worry about transportation as family picked is up from the airport (so nice!). The hotel we booked is pretty close to the airport so after a short ride, we arrived at Le Méridien – our accommodation of choice for this first part of our trip. As we had to make changes to our trip last minute, we were not able to check into our Airbnb quite yet. Thanks to our family member’s Marriott Bonvoy Elite status, we were able to get a love spacious suite this time. There was a dining and living area with a powder room when you first enter and then a bedroom and ensuite with shower and bath inside. The only downside is the lack of counter space, but luckily, I had purchased a hanging toiletries bag for this trip so this wasn’t an issue for me. After feeding the baby some freshly cooked ridge porridge and spending some time with family here, we were off to bed. With the extra space, we decided to move the crib into the living space instead of the bedroom.