I am sitting on my last flight from Bangkok to my final destination in Chiang Mai and I am reflecting on how far I have traveled to get here! To get to Chiang Mai, I flew over 10,000 miles and spent over 20 hours in the air, plus about 8 hours in airports. I have flown over the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, the Middle East, India, and some of South East Asia. It literally is on the other side of the world! Because airports are kind of all the same, I have been slow to catch on to just how far away from America I am. What really throws me off are the Europeans. There were many of them in Dubai as well as in Bangkok and I have approached a few with questions thinking that they had to know English and got some very puzzled looks. That’s the thing with being American, you can’t identify one by just looks! However, the best thing about being from the US is that everywhere you go has the native language and English displayed, so it takes a lot of the stress off. Also, you can’t escape America- our brands are everywhere. I don’t think I could have found an authentic restaurant in the Dubai airport. But there were Starbucks, Burger Kings, and McDonalds everywhere.
So far, the airports have basically been airports. Dubai was a little bit extra fancy, but the fundamental aspects were all the same. The biggest difference in the airports were the overall theme. Dubai’s was very luxurious and large, where Bangkok’s had a lot of metal and felt very industrialized. Dubai seemed more similar to the Mall of America instead of an airport at times- you could spend some serious cash there. It has been fun to just walk around the airports and see who is there and what they are doing. I am beginning to stick out with blond hair and blue eyes. As long as the signs have English on them I will be cool with whatever the airport has to offer.
I don’t know if it is just because this is my first international trip, but traveling alone has been so fun. It’s almost like a challenge to myself to see if I can figure out what I need to do. Every airport and layover has been different. Do I need to get a VISA on arrival? Do I need to go through security again? Where is my gate? It is SO fun and I am so glad that I got to do it by myself at least once. Maybe it’s because I am independent or maybe I just like ‘solving a puzzle’ but it has been an awesome part of the adventure. With the help of airport workers and some confused fellow passengers, I have made it onto my last flight! I am savoring the air-conditioning before the heat slaps me in the face.
A few things I have learned over the course of my last four flights are as follows:
1. Airlines in the US really need to step up their game. On this last flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I was served a hot meal and it was only an hour long flight! On my flight from Minneapolis to Chicago which is similar in length,I think we were offered a small package of nuts.
2. Just because someone is white doesn’t mean they speak English.
3. Talk to who you are sitting next to on the plane! So far I have met people from South Africa, London, Australia, and other parts of the US and have heard and learned some really cool things. It’s so fun!
4. Bring TED hose or compression socks if you are going to be flying a lot. My feet are so swollen I can barely find my ankles.
5. The view from the window seat is not worth the freedom an isle seat can offer.
I am so excited to land and start my Thailand adventure, with real people not in an airport. I am preparing to sweat. (I am posting this at Randy’s and yes, I am sweating)