Getting there is half the fun

I officially left home 2 days ago if I find myself looking at a calendar. The beginning of my trip took place on a train from Alton, IL to Chicago, IL at  5:20am March 12… as I write this in my hostel room it’s 3:00am March 14. It doesn’t feel like it’s been two days, and in all reality it probably hasn’t been, but I would say still its been one incredibly long day.

If having to catch an early morning train wasn’t bad enough, I found myself unable to sleep the night before, so by the time I arrived in Chicago around 10:00am, I had probably gotten less than 3 hours of sleep from cat napping. By this point I’m running on pure excitement, so as I charge through the cold streets of Chicago en route to the blue line metro station, I’m feeling hopeful about the day ahead and my introduction to Bangkok. After taking a few wrong turns I ask a few nice people for directions and make it to the airport without any major issue. It’s a successful start to my trip by any standards.

The fun part of my day, however, was only beginning. When I get to the ticket counter to check in, the lady informs me that I won’t be allowed into the country without a return ticket. Having read everything I could on the topic I was under the impression that they rarely asked to see proof of the ticket, and having an itinerary that would take you outside of the country was all that was needed…. I apparently misinterpreted, or should always keep in mind that the internet isn’t error free. So after unsuccessfully trying to find a bus ticket online for the last half of my trip, I ended up having to shell out $368 for a refundable plane ticket to Phnom Pehn which after the return means I’m out $177 for not planning ahead. It was more than enough to ruin my positive attitude and make me kick myself a few times for throwing away good money.

As I sat in the terminal waiting to board, I remembered that I needed to call Virgin Mobile about its international plan. To make a long story short as I hung up the phone I wished I hadn’t even bothered making the call in the first place. Not only does the company not cover anything outside of the United States, but the person I talked to couldn’t understand why the wording made me think it did… I was batting 0 for 2 and chuckling like a crazy person about my bad luck. It might be surprising, but things like this happen to me all the time. Long delays, sleeping in airports, and a long list of other weird transportation issues abound. My parents always joke about how I’m a cursed traveler. I wish they were wrong and weird things like this didn’t happen to me, but at the rate I’m going I must have large warehouses full of bad karma just waiting to be used.

Luckily for me I cashed in some of them during my flight from Chicago to Hong Kong. To set this section up right I have to tell you something about myself… I love movies more than I love chocolate and possibly even my family…. okay not more than my family, but I think you get where I’m headed with this. Keeping that in mind, for me the best part about long international flights are all the new release movies you get to watch. It’s the only thing that can keep me from going stir crazy in those tiny seats, so as you can imagine I was excited to hook my headphones up and start watching. The only problem was that the sound on my seat seemed to be broken. The two men sharing the row with me watched as I desperately tried to get something to work, while still trying to be polite about the fact that they could watch what they wanted without a problem. After ringing for help the poor stewardesses tried in vain to make it work and kept resetting it, but as luck would have it there would be no movies for me for the entire 16 hours on the flight. There had been talk at some point about moving me to another seat, but once they lowered the lights my issue was forgotten and nothing ever became of it.

Right before this plane landed in Hong Kong the lady who was in charge of making sure everything ran okay stopped by to talk to me about the issue, apologized, then gave me a $50 voucher for the trouble it caused me. Not only was I not expecting anything to come from a 16 hour flight with no movies, outside of a piece of my soul dying upon looking at the list, but her generosity actually made my day a little better.  Nothing unusual happened next. I went through security again, waited in another terminal, and got in line to board the plane. This is the part of the story that you could call a turning point. I’m not sure if the airline felt bad that my sound hadn’t worked on the previous flight, or if I won some sort of lottery, but when it was my turn to get my ticket scanned it made a horrible sound, flashed red, and caused the ticket lady to rummage through some paperwork. I was expecting the worse given everything that had already happened. What I got instead was the best they had to offer. My ticket had been upgraded to 1st class. It read business class 17A so I figured I’d get a little extra leg room and would be happy to be able to stretch out a little bit… Instead this is what I walked up to:

It was like an amazing tiny cubicle of goodness. The ironic thing about this is I had been talking to a guy while exiting the plan in Hong Kong about this very thing. He told me he was booking his next flight 1st class for the leg room, and I jokingly said if only I had thrown a huge fit about my volume not working, then I could have spent the flight up there in luxury. Well as it turns out, I didn’t have to throw a fit to get an upgrade on my flight to Bangkok. So to take full advantage of the situation I ordered champagne, ate fancy food, stretched out in the reclining chair, and finally got to watch something with sound. It was the absolute perfect end to my journey, and as I hailed a cab and drove through the mixture that seems to be Bangkok, I couldn’t help but feel light and excited all over again.

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