On January 4/5 my ass traveled from Luang Prabang, Laos (check out all the awesome things to do in Laos!) to Gainesville, Florida. It took 66 hours and two airport sleeps because I’m a cheap mother fucker. Side note: yes, I am aware that two days do not have 66 hours in them, but time change and all made it the two days that wouldn’t end. Luckily for all those who want an insight into my insanity, I kept a record, mostly to entertain myself as the hours went by. So this is what 66 hours in transit – if you’re me, and you don’t book business class flights or pick the best airlines like a smart person – looks like. There are, erm, a few ups and downs…
Hour 1: At Luang Prabang airport. Check in not yet open. Took out money to satisfy intense chocolate craving. And I wonder why I’m perpetually poor.
Hour 2: Checked in. Bored. Contemplating another chocolate bar. Fucking munchies.
Hour 3: Takeoff. Headphones broken. Only one side works. There’s a child on the broken side. God help me.
Hour 4: Apparently Bangkok Airlines feed you even on a one hour flight. However, I cannot explain the square fish or the green mystery desert. Sticking with my complimentary red wine. BOO YEAH – SUCK IT, ANTIBIOTICS.
…and now I have coffee AND wine. Okay this is one bad ass hour long flight. Friggin’ better be for the $300 I had to drop on it last minute.
Hour 5: Waiting in line at immigration in Bangkok. Oddly there is a (shitty) live band playing to the side of the line. This feels ominous, like they just know this is going to take forever and a half.
Hour 6: In search of beer. Just tried to reach for the cigarette in my mouth, except I’m inside the airport and there is no cigarette in my mouth. I’m hallucinating cigarettes. And this is me after a short flight…
Hour 7: Sending messages of love to friends. Damn, beer plus antibiotics gets you drunk fast. Sweating in the heat that is Bangkok, killing time until the airport quiets down enough for a sleep.
Hour 8: The drinking continues. I was even productive and sent a work email and booked a hair dye appointment!
Hour 10: Half cut. Airport has gotten calmer. Almost time to find a nice sleepy spot for the night.
Hour 11: Nearly 2am. Friends have kept me entertained on Facebook til now. Drinking final beer before locating a nap spot in the airport until check in at 8:30am. Armpits mysteriously stinky. Come on guys, half the time you can go days without stinking, why you gotta fuck with me with 55 hours to go?
Hour 12: It has been months since I’ve curled up in my sleeping bag on a hard and cold floor, and you know what? It feels right. Goodnight from under the escalator in the Bangkok airport. At present there are six others sleeping under here.
Hour 18: That was one damn cozy airport floor slumber.
Hour 19: Got in line to check in two hours before departure. Still almost missed my flight. Asia, you’re getting on my last nerve here.
Hour 20: En route to Shanghai. Only 46 hours to go!
Hour 21: God bless vegetarian airplane food and its lack of questionable colour and shape. No one ever listens to me but I swear, for all you non-vegos, it’s worth pre-ordering veg. No square shaped fish for me! Oh, and you get your food first. Every time. Ohhh yeah.
Hour 22: Stamp of approval on Chinese beer. Basically as long as it isn’t fucking Chang, all beer is good.
Hour 23: Why the shit have I gone my entire life wearing bras on planes? WHY?! Life is so much better now. New rule: no bra til Gainesville. Be free ladies, BE FREE!
Hour 24: Awoke to plane landing in Shanghai. Startling. It’s cloudy and the grass is brown. My one impression of China is… Bleak.
…swear to god one more ridiculously long, badly organized line and I’m punching someone in the face.
Hour 25: Yep just yelled and swore at the bitch of a Chinese lady looking at our passports for NO FUCKING REASON. It’s a transfer; there is NO reason to keep us in line for AN HOUR for this shit.
In other news, I booked my vegetarian meal for my FIFTEEN FUCKING HOUR FLIGHT in advance and oh gee they fucked up and can’t fix it. Woman YELLS in Chinese to her coworker, then says, “No, you don’t have a vegetarian meal.” “But I booked it. I had it on the first flight so it should be there.” Her: “No, I just called my manager, you don’t.” (The yelling was calling apparently.) Me: “Okay can you fix it?” Her: “No, it’s too late.” That’s about when I lost my fucking shit and started muttering under my god damn breath how much I hate this continent. Hey Asia, ever heard of customer service? JUST KIDDING! I know you haven’t.
…okay I got my mini revenge by sneaking a lighter across security (and no, most countries don’t take your damn lighter and I wasn’t about to let them take it from a grumpy bitch who needs a cig. Why am I even going through security for a transfer? I’ve not gone anywhere but airports! I cannot leave without… Fuck, just accept it.)
Hour 26: Can’t exchange my cash as they would charge me $20. My Thai money is now useless, I can’t buy something to eat, and they won’t be feeding me on the plane apparently. Furthermore, I cannot access the FREE wifi because I don’t have a phone to register with, and need a verification code. 40 shitting hours of hell left. Get. Me. Off. This. Continent. NOW.
…my debit card mysteriously works in China! It wouldn’t work in Europe but it works here! I have a beer, I have a beer! It’s gonna be okay. Woosa. I even managed to connect to the wifi using a machine that was all in Chinese. I mean, the internet doesn’t actually work but I am connected. And did I mention the beer?
Hour 27: Ah yes, the age old debate: do I buy food or more beer? Is there enough in my account for both? Am I going to land in Orlando and have to beg for the $2 bus fare to make it to the Greyhound station? A pathetic fate that would be considering there will be money in my account in a couple days.
…hour 27 continues badly. Despite the internet not working for anything else, it is importing my email – unfortunately. Now what’s any lengthy journey through airports if you’re not a crying mess (this time due to an email)? A lovely Chinese girl around my age came up to me and gave me tissues. Then she gave me a mint. I don’t like mints, but it was somehow soothing. Then she told me everything was going to be okay, and she left.
Hour 28: Well, with the breakdown due to email the food mission was abandoned. Another beer was necessary. On the bright side I’ve found some crackers and miso soup to tide me over on the 15 hour flight ahead. God help me, and let us hope when I land in New York there are still food places open at the airport (they never sleep, right?!!)
Hour 29: URGH. I can deal with no water going through security but did you seriously just make me toss my water at the boarding gate? The water I obtained in your airport, past security?
…water obtained prior to bloody takeoff. Valium consumed. Farewell, world.
Hour 42: Valium was effective. May have exceeded daily limit, but I slept. An hour and a half of the flight that never ends until I land in New York … An hour after I left. There’s some perpetual night shit going on here. How the fuck am I going to sleep there when I’ve just dozed for a good twelve hours?!
Hour 43: Landed in New York. God I wish I had toothpaste.
Hour 44: Are the Americans warming up to us Canadians?! Customs took no time despite the long line (see Asia? It’s do-able), and I was questioned zero. Welcome to America. Stay six months if you want. We don’t really care. Unusual…
Hour 45: Bitches, I just flushed my toilet paper. Now the debate begins: do I try to sleep again, despite having slept nearly the entire 14 hour flight I was just on? Or do I stay up because my body thinks it’s morning and otherwise I’m sleeping almost a full day? Decisions, decisions…
In other news, New York City is bloody cold as balls. Like, minus degrees cold. I disapprove. Get me to Florida, land of warmth and gators and basically everything I liked about Asia paired with the sanity of the western world. Well, and Americans. I’ll just have to dig to find the good ones, but really isn’t that the case anywhere? We all suck in our own special ways!
It has been decided to take one final Valium (on top of the four for the 14 hour flight plus the extra two I took midway through the journey so as to remain dormant), effectively nearly doubling the recommended daily maximum dose. Don’t try this at home kids, but it’s my only hope to set myself on a normal schedule by sleeping the night here, despite it being the afternoon to my poor confused body.
Hour 49: Woken by authoritative sounding woman at 4:30am, as were all the other sleepers. “What time’s you flight ma’am?” “Uh… 8:30?” “Okay you can check in now.” I emerged from my cozy sleeping bag thinking, “Doesn’t this woman know I’ve consumed 70 mg of Valium in the last day? Need… Sleep…” Fuck it, with my big bag in tow (I was unable to recheck it last night and had to collect it here in New York) I could change my undies and brush my teeth with plenty of time to spare (read: many hours) to check my bag. We are in the home stretch!
Hour 50: Coffee coffee coffee coffee. Also how in hell did I begin smoking in Canada?! My nose is so cold when I go outside… Poor nose. Only 16 more hours til I’m curled up on a couch with a cat on me. If the cat is not on me I will force the cat upon me.
Can we also accept the sheer bizarreness that there was wifi in the Bangkok airport and the Shanghai one (not that it worked well), but… not in New York City? Sigh. There better be in Orlando or figuring out the bus to the Greyhound is gonna be right interesting. Fortunately I have seven hours once I land to sort it out.
Hour 51: In the battle of Valium versus coffee, coffee is KING. Fuck you jet lag; I’m awake in the morning. I can mother fucking DO THIS!
… So I was sitting alone on a bench with four chairs and these three Asian girls come along. Two sit down and one remains standing as I was in one of the middle seats. Obviously I moved over so they could all sit together. After thanking me, the girl who sat down hands me a full unopened bottle of orange juice. She is basically my angel. If only she knew how badly I needed this orange juice. Sweet, sweet nourishment. I thanked her profusely as my belief in humanity began to return. I’m starting to remember a simple fact I’ve learned over the years: if you go about life with positivity, knowing everything will be okay, you attract bundles of wonderfulness. Time to get myself back to positive living! I’m coming, gators!
Hour 53: Have boarded flight four of four! Here we go at last!
…take off! Bitches I just saw the Statue of Liberty from the sky, without ever having to enter NYC. Winning.
Hour 54: So tired. So, so tired. On the bright side, my love for Delta airlines rages on; when they came round with snacks I just chatted with the stewardess, mentioning my lack of food on my 15 hour flight through no fault of my own. She gave me extra snacks. Love. Now I nap.
Hour 56: Landed in Orlando! Final flight complete! Now just 8 hours until my bus to Gainesville…
…upon exiting plane it has come to my attention that my legs are no longer functioning as they should. They sorta shuffle along at an irregular beat, unsure why they haven’t seen a bed in so long. I’m also muttering to myself… “Shuttle.. Shuttle.. Exit on other side of train.. Baggage claim? Delta. B. Follow… I go pee…” No one has yet to question my behaviour.
Hour 57: Quizno’s broccoli and cheese soup. The thing I’ve been craving for a year. Damn those chemicals taste delicious.
Hour 60: Could it be that the 70 mg of Valium caused me to sleep so much it put me on the proper schedule?! Cause I definitely just spent the last two hours getting work done at the airport, and it feels like the afternoon rather than middle of the night. So that’s the jet lag trick…
Hour 62: Well, I’m definitely in the States. Just saw my first preachy sign: “God is compassionate. Heaven is REAL”. This was followed, naturally, by a sign for discount cigarettes. God bless America?
In other news, every single person I have spoken to since arriving in the States – and there have been many – has been ridiculously friendly, kind, and helpful. Way to shatter my preconceived notions, guys. What is up with all the friendliness going on?! Loving it.
Hour 64: Greyhound bus effing cold. Was Megabus this cold? Unsure. Florida effing cold. Cold. But almost there!
Hour 65: Falling asleep on bus. Almost there…
And there is ends. But don’t worry; I did get the cat on my lap when I arrived.