Day 1: Emirates and Airports
The day has finally come! This trip has been in the making in some form for about 18 months with many different countries being the final destination. However, after Laura told us that she was going to be staying in Thailand with her dad’s friend Randy and his family, we realized that going to Thailand to stay with an actual Thai family was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we could not pass up. We actually had our entire trip to Europe already planned and I had even bought my plane ticket home from Paris the night before, so I quickly had to cancel it after we decided Thailand was an option. The four of us then booked our tickets to Thailand that week! This was all in October, so we have had lots of time to get excited and use this trip as an excuse to buy lots of unnecessary things.
My first flight was domestic from Minneapolis to Chicago and was over in what seemed like a blink-of-an-eye. However, after landing, I had to get my checked bag, take a train to the international terminal, recheck my bag, and go through security, so my two hour layover didn’t seem like enough. In fact, myself and a bunch of people from my flight were rushed to the front of the security line because there as no way we would have made our flight. I did not realize before this trip how different international travel was vs domestic. The people in these terminals had so many suitcases; it was crazy in there. Also, there was only one security checkpoint, so if I hadn’t been rushed to the front, I probably would have waited for two hours before getting through. The only reason I wasn’t stressed about missing my flight was because I was standing in the security line with about 30 people on my flight and we were all in the same boat. It just shows how even though I am traveling alone, I am not really alone- it’s pretty comforting!
We decided to fly Emirates because it was one of the cheaper options and had really great reviews. I didn’t really expect it to be much different from the domestic flights I have flown on because I haven’t flown international before, but it was very different. When I got on the plane, I noticed it looked very clean and on every seat was a stack of items: a pillow, blanket, headphones, and a toiletry kit with and eye mask, socks, and a toothbrush. Looks like luxury to me!
The service and food on this airline is amazing! At take-off we were offered a cool, refreshing towel and while writing this I was offered a warm, wet towel to freshen up after 10 hours. The food has also been exceptional. My first meal included nicely cooked salmon with vegetables, and rice, a ciabatta roll, a salad, various crackers and spreads, with raspberry cheesecake and chocolate for dessert. During the night they offered mini-pizzas as a snack, and like the true American I am, I woke up just in time to get one. It was delicious. We were also given fruit and chocolate throughout the flight. For breakfast they had pretty decent omelette with potatoes, fruit, and a croissant. I totally forgot you even get meals on international flights, so it was a huge bonus for me and my backpack full of American treats! Now I can save them for later!
I am not sure if it is just because this is my first international flight experience, or if this airline is just awesome, but either way, I would fly with Emirates again in a heartbeat. (The guy sitting next to me has been flying with Emirates for over 10 years because they have the best games on their entertainment system)
The most interesting part of my flight was my seat partner. I got a seat by the window in the back of the plane with only one other person next to me. I quickly found out that he was a neurosurgeon in South Africa. After talking to him further, I found out that he was Christian. We talked for a few hours, and he told me many stories about how he gave quadriplegics the ability to walk and helped people who were in deep comas have the ability to return home and work to take care of their families. After telling me all of these miraculous stories, he told me that to this day, he still does not believe that it was his ability as a neurosurgeon that “cured” these people; he firmly believes it was God moving his hands because even he has no idea how these people had such miraculous outcomes. He stated how lucky he was to see God everyday in his work as he believes God called him to be a surgeon so He could use his hands to do great work. It is really refreshing to meet a surgeon who doesn’t believe that all the good they do is directly related to their merit and talent. When he found out I was in nursing school, he tried to sway me to specialize in neurology instead of labor and delivery. He didn’t have good memories smelling baby poop. It was such a treat to begin my adventure talking to this man- I even got his business card with the instruction to let him know if I ever make it to South Africa! The world gets smaller everyday.
I have two flights left: one to Bangkok and then a short flight up to Chiang Mai! I am really ready to lay in an actual bed and take a shower. It has been a good first leg!