Tag Archives: airplane

Mistaken Identity- SOL #27

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At Michelle’s birthday dinner this past weekend, we started talking about horrible, funny, and weird flight experiences we’d had. It was then that I was reminded of a funny story that happened to me once…

Back in December 2010, I was headed home to surprise my family for Christmas. I had just spent my first few months in Shanghai, and was looking forward to a little family lovin’. At the airport check-in counter with my Chinese friend Julie, who accompanied me to the airport, I was a little taken aback by the customer service rep’s question.

“Can you see very good?” she asked.

“Ummm…well, I can with my glasses on,” I answered her in a curious-sounding voice.

“But you can see?” she queried.

Leaning over, I whispered to Julie, “Why does she need to know this? Is this some weird China thing?” Julie shook her head no.

“I can see OK, but not very well without my glasses. Is this a problem? I’m not driving the plane, so…I’m not sure what the deal is.”

Apparently that answer was sufficient, since she dropped the conversation and continued with normal check-in. Shaking my head as I left the counter, I chocked it up to a random, weird China experience, said goodbye to Julie, and made my way through immigration and security.

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After boarding the aircraft, I was approached by a middle-aged flight attendant. In a VERY loud voice, she shouted, “Ma’am, I brought you a book to read!” while handing me a large white book. Her loud voice was beginning to draw the attention of the other passengers.

“No, thank you, I brought my own,” I said, wondering why she was giving me, and only me, a book.

“Ma’am, it’s a Braille book for you to read!” she shouted.

“Why do I need a Braille book?” I questioned, my face flushing from all this attention I was getting.

“Because you’re blind!” she said matter-of-factly.

“I’m not blind!” I insisted.

“Yes, you are,” she argued.

“No, really, I’m not,” I again insisted, at this point completely flabbergasted as to why this was happening. I was pretty sure I was being punked.

The older Southern gentleman (AKA good ole boy) behind me bellowed, “I see what you’re doing…trying to get something for free by telling them you’re blind, huh?” as he chuckled and shook his head at me. I wanted to crawl under my seat.

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At our stopover in Tokyo, we all had to go through security and then get checked in again so they could issue us a boarding pass for the last leg of our trip. As I was waiting for the people in front of me to get their boarding passes, I leaned over the edge of the counter and happened to see my name written down on a piece of paper. Once it was my turn in line, I asked, “Why is my name written on that paper?”

“Because I have to escort you to the gate,” the attendant said.

“Ummm…why?”

“Because you’re blind.”

“I JUST READ MY NAME ON THAT PIECE OF PAPER! How could I possibly be blind?” I shouted.

“I don’t know, but I will help you to the gate,” he responded.

“No, you won’t. I do not need help.”

“But it says that I have to.”

“I don’t care. I am capable of going by myself.”

After a few more minutes of arguing, he let me go unattended. Seriously, I felt like I was in the twilight zone or something.

Luckily, the rest of the flight was good, and I was no longer accused of being blind, but looking back, that was some crazy trip! I still can’t figure out how I got flagged in the system, but I’m glad it’s never happened again.

You Know You’re a Traveler When… SOL #23

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You Know You’re a Traveler When…

You’re thinking about your next trip right after getting home from your last one.

You run out of pages in your passport and have to add more.

A great gift idea for you is travel gear- a new backpack, packing bags, travel-sized accessories- or better yet, an airplane ticket!

You buy a ticket to another country just because you suddenly realize you have a three-day weekend!

You have 3 currencies (or more!) in your wallet at the same time.

You speak in airport codes.

You know that familiar itch, the one that signals it’s time to GO!

You’d rather not buy the latest gadget if it means you can take one more trip this year.

You choose your next destination because the airplane ticket is the cheapest. Skyscanner’s “anywhere” destination search is the tool for that!

The thought of living in the same place your whole life scares you shitless!

 

Chasing the Sun

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? In honor of this, I would like to share a little poem I wrote on my flight from Hong Kong to Kathmandu this weekend. I was mesmerized by the images outside of my window, so much so that I was inspired to write a poem. Enjoy! 🙂

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Chasing the Sun

An ocean of gray clouds
form a never-ending horizon
Puffy white clouds in the distance
play the part of mountains
Fiery orange contrasts against the ocean,
fading into tangerine, butter, lemon
A touch of cotton
just before
the field of forget-me-nots
reaches high,
darker and darker,
until it finally settles into night
Flying into the sunset
trying to
catch it
touch it
before it fades away
A race against time
A race we can’t win

My Travel Essentials- SOL #30

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As a seasoned traveler, I have, through trial and error, figured out the essential elements I must bring with me whenever I take a trip, especially a long one (5+ hours). I’m posting from the Hong Kong airport, so I don’t have pictures of my items, but I’ll do my best to describe them for you. Beyond the obvious travel items one may take on a  trip, I like to bring:

  1. A large scarf or pashmina– This versatile piece of clothing serves as a traditional scarf, a blanket when you get cold on the airplane, or a wrap, which is essential in some cultures where women have to have their shoulders covered in public. I usually bring my black one because it goes with everything.
  2. My neck pillow– As someone who has trouble sleeping on airplanes, I used to lug around my full-sized pillow, but the more you travel, the more you realize how annoying and ridiculous that is. I’ve tried several neck pillows, but the one that works for me is my one made of memory foam. It holds its shape no matter what you do to it. Not only is the neck pillow great for sleeping on the airplane (or bus or train or…), I’ve used it to sleep in the airport, stretched out on the benches, as a pillow in hostels that didn’t pass my cleanliness test, and in my lap as a book rest when I’m reading on the airplane. I highly recommend it!
  3. A sleep mask– First of all, don’t laugh…I realize how ridiculous I look wearing this, but it really helps me get a snooze in when the lights are on. My friend Melissa likes to call me a ‘princess’ when I wear it. She can call me whatever she likes, but I’m a happy ‘princess’ when I get my sleep! The one I have is black, not too tight, and made of silky material. I bought it in the LA airport when I left my other one at home, and I have been a happy sleeper ever since!
  4. A comfy travel outfit– I like fashion as much as the next girl, but when I travel, I prefer comfort over fashion! My go-to travel outfit consists of comfy stretchy pants such as leggings or yoga pants, a tank top, t-shirt, and hoodie or track jacket on top (layers are key to account for varying temperatures), my scarf, socks, and slip-on Nike tennis shoes for breezing through security. I don’t wear jewelry when I travel either. More of a hassle than it’s worth, especially at security checkpoints.
  5. My iPad mini, a book, and/or laptop– I like to have plenty of stuff to do when I’m on those long-haul flights. My iPad mini is great for storing books, magazines, videos, and apps that I can play or use to research my next travel destination. I also like to have it in case I need to snap a quick photo or jot down a note I don’t want to forget! I like to have at least one paperback book with me, especially for takeoff and landing when all electronic devices need to be switched off. My laptop comes with me if I will be at my destination for a while (such as home for the holidays), I need to do some work while on vacation, or I would like to blog.
  6. Small toiletry bag– This one is so important. I have a small 3x2x1 inch bag I bought at the fake market. It fits nicely into my carry on and houses lots of important odds and ends that I may need on the flight. I have my pill box with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, Melatonin (essential for helping me sleep), and Tums. While I may not need any of those medicines, it sure is great to have when I do! In it I also keep a travel hairbrush, travel ready-to-use toothbrushes, a few mints, hair ties and barrettes, chapstick, hand sanitizer, face lotion, wet wipes (so important), Kleenex, and hand lotion. All of these items are travel sized and fit nicely into my bag that takes up less room than a paperback book.
  7. Noise-cancelling earbuds– These are great for blocking out the sounds of the screaming baby in aisle 12, the snoring man next to you, and the constant interruptions of the PA system. They also prevent you from having to use the airline-provided headphones, which make me think of germs. Yuck!
  8. Reusable water bottle– If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you know how dehydrating it can be. There’s nothing worse than being thirsty on the plane! I hate when I forget my water bottle because the flight attendants will only give you a small cup of water at a time. Since there’s no lid, you can’t save the water for later or it’ll spill. I bring my own, and ask the flight attendant to fill it up on the first drink run. As a bonus, you can use it when you are traveling so you aren’t constantly having to buy and throw away water bottles.
  9. An empty recycled grocery bag– You never know when you might need more space in your luggage. You don’t want to forgo that really cool souvenir because you don’t have room in your bag. Bringing an extra bag takes up no room or weight, but it gives you the flexibility to bring something back home that you may not have been able to otherwise. Sometimes I use it, other times it comes back empty. It’s just good to have. I’ve also used it as a day bag when  in a pinch.

What items are essential when you travel?

An Unexpected Pitstop- SOL #29

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Today I had planned a totally different slice, one that I was writing in my head while waiting in the airport in Shanghai and on the airplane on my way to Kathmandu, via Hong Kong. But, due to some unexpected changes, I have a new slice idea.

Like I said earlier, I was on my way to Nepal for a week-long vacation. One thing you have to know about Shanghai is that the airports there are notorious for leaving late. Delays are a way of life, and while they still annoy me, I’ve come to accept that it would take an act of God for a plane to leave at its scheduled time, so to allow for the inevitable delays, I gave myself extra layover time in Hong Kong. An hour plus delay prior to boarding and an hour sitting on the runway made today’s delays even longer than my layover time, and consequently, I missed my flight to Nepal. You may know from my previous post that I am an unplanned traveler, meaning that I don’t really know what is going to happen on my trips, and I tend to just roll with the punches and let adventure come my way. This was one of those punches.

Landing at ten to seven, I knew it was too late. My flight to Nepal departed at 7:10pm, and I was in row 38. There was no way I was getting off that plane anytime soon. The only thing that could have saved me was a delayed flight to Nepal, but seeing as this was Hong Kong, and Hong Kong is efficient, the chances were pretty slim. Upon exiting the walkway from the plane to the terminal, I was met with chaos. Dozens of Cathay Pacific personnel were holding up signs and shouting out locations, trying to gather up people who had missed their connecting flights. People headed to Aukland, Melbourne, the US, Mumbai, a few others, and of course, Kathmandu were all in the same boat.

Louise, the agent helping me, presented me with two new boarding passes, telling me that I’d been booked on a flight that departed in an hour. Great, I thought, I’ll get to Nepal after all. When I looked closer, I realized that I had been booked on a flight to Dehli and then a flight to Kathmandu, meaning that my total transit time had been extended another 10 hours. Hmmm…I didn’t like that. I could tell Louise was disappointed, but nonetheless, vowed to help me. After waiting a while, she presented a new plan. This one involved staying overnight in Hong Kong and flying out tomorrow afternoon. I can handle that. I mean, Hong Kong isn’t the worst place to be stranded, and my best friend lives here, so I called her up and made plans for the morning. The airline put me up in a really nice hotel called the Penta Hotel, and I am on the 30th floor. There’s even a cushioned window seat that I plan on testing out in the morning.

As an unplanned traveler, you have to expect the unexpected. Am I happy that I missed my flight and will be spending one less day in Kathmandu? Not exactly, but I’m not mad either. I get to stay in this posh hotel room overlooking Hong Kong, visit with Shaggers and Jeezy tomorrow, and get into Kathmandu earlier in the evening than I would have today. Cheers to an unexpected pitstop and the fun it brings!