Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And here we go

Greetings from Hong Kong! By the time I actually post this I will be in Bali (God willing, fingers crossed)…but wanted to put my thoughts down before hitting the next leg of my trip.

Weeks of prep, months of fundraising (THANK YOU GMU Dept of Sociology and Anthropology, Center for Global Education, Global Affairs, Point of View Foundation, and School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution!!!), and years of a certain fiancé of mine cajoling me to ‘get outside my comfort zone’ culminated with my departure for Bali yesterday…well, I guess technically two days ago since I’m 12 hours ahead here…anyway, June 27 I took off for Hong Kong, were I spent last night and in which airport I am currently being serenaded by an elderly gentleman hacking painfully loudly.

The adventure really began the day before, when my sister picked me up from my house to head to our mom’s. After much cooing over my beautiful, clever little niece*, Mom and I headed up to New York for me to fly out of JFK the next morning. With the help of not one, but three GPS devices, we managed to avoid any traffic (also it was midnight when we hit the Verrazano, but let’s give some props to technology for helping us avoid the massive parking lot on the Garden Parkway). Once on Long Island, we headed to the least sketchy hotel I was able to find in my grad stipend price range. The aforementioned technology promptly grew mutinous, and we ended up in an industrial park with a gated entrance. Several wrong turns later, we resorted to the old fashioned ‘OH! Look! There it is!’ method and pulled up to what appeared to be a just fine Econo Lodge. I went to pick up the keys and, when I asked the front desk guy how bad the smell was when he informed me he was not able to give me my requested non-smoking room, he ‘helpfully’ told me that “I wouldn’t want to stay in there. Just being honest, lady.” Greeeeat. Thanks.

Eight hours, one sketchy hotel room, and one fabulous catch-up breakfast at a diner with my aunt, uncle and cousin, we were off to JFK. I am super anal retentive about getting to airports on time (a lifetime of tardy trauma to overcome: my mom told me over breakfast that when I was little I asked her why when we went to the airport with Dad we walked and with her we ran), so I was at the check-in line a full three and half hours early. Good things come when you show up early: one of the customer service reps was walking down the check-in line asking people to go out on the later flight in exchange for biz class upgrade and $400 cash. Um. I want to go to there.

And so I tried. I volunteered, but ended up being put on the original flight- complete with a free lunch and $100 on-board credit to spend on duty-free goodies (ridiculously overpriced Bobbi Brown make-up, here I come!). She also bumped me to an extra leg room row, which I had been able to purchase for extra for my return flight but there had been no room when I tried to upgrade outbound. Holy legroom Batman, I will always and forever pay for that upgrade henceforth on all flights over 8 hours. I pulled out my new sleep sack (for sketchy hotels…I feel like this product is going to be playing a leading role in this trip, as it has already accompanied me through my lovely NY hotel, my flight, and last night reading Harry Potter from 3am-7am in Hong Kong International Airport- but I get ahead of myself), propped up my feet on my backpack, took a big sleeping pill, and didn’t wake up for 10 hours. Bliss. (On a slightly related note, I really, really, really love my niece…and I was also really, really happy to not be the lady in the next row who had two toddlers with her. Biological clock? Hitting snooze again.)

One leg of the journey down! Adventure (and likely a few hilarious mishaps) ahead! Next stop, Hong Kong overnight!

*smartest baby in world. And no, I am not biased. So there.

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