Here was the moment we had been dreading since we decided to take this world tour, the terrifying 13-hour flight! (I said that last part with a flashlight under my chin.) We did not expect that even getting to that moment would be a few of the most stressful hours we’ve ever had. I knew that we were leaving from Los Angeles on 9/25, but for whatever reason I told myself that the 25th was on Tuesday. It was not.
When I woke Monday morning and lazily glanced at my phone, I saw that the date read September 25th. Oh Crap! It was a mad dash to pack up our clothes, most of which were dirty because we planned to do laundry that day. We also had to quickly find a hostel for our first few nights in Bangkok. This day was suppose to be our organization day but instead it was our launching point. Luckily, we woke up at 8:30 A.M., which gave us enough time to shove everything in a backpack and head to LAX to catch our flight at 12:15 P.M.
My friend, Dan, gave us a ride to the airport and showed us a trick that saved us at least 20 minutes on the commute that was slowed by the famous L.A. traffic. The line of cars heading into the Departure drop-off was really backed up, so he dropped us off at the Arrivals pick-up. All we had to do was walk up the stairs, except Rian forgot her phone in his car as we reached the top and had to run back down to catch him before he left the airport. It turns out that she’s really fast.
We quickly got our boarding passes and headed upstairs to the security TSA checkpoint. The line was massive. As we approached the end of the line, we were ushered into the Family, Elderly and Handicapped line that was much shorter by a TSA agent. That was another huge time-saver. We made it through, but much of our luggage was flagged for inspection. Ugh.
I sat and watched a TSA agent check four-sealed containers of bagel seasoning in someone else’s bag. It was a test of my patience. We had 45 minutes to board the plane. Once our bags were on his table, I realized that it was our haste in packing that morning that caused it. ALL food, liquids, electronics and even books must be separated. We had them in ziploc bags that were easy to remove, but we were unaware that a liquid in a food bag, or a electric toothbrush in the medicine bag was also prohibited. The bag check took a few minutes, but we were quickly back on the move. Hustling through the airport, we made it to our gate with about 20 minutes to spare before they closed the doors to our flight. Whew!
We were catching a flight to Taiwan that would take 13 hours. We had prepared and loaded Jai’s tablet with fun games and Netflix movies, and had packed some of his favorite snacks to keep him happy in the air. Eva Airlines was a step ahead of us and were well suited for such a long flight. They offered 2 meals, fresh drinks and snacks every hour or so and a personal screen to watch movies and play games on the seat in front of you. We even got some free wine. There was even a good amount of legroom in the economy section. Rian finally got to watch Zac Efron in Baywatch, while I watched The Circle with my boo, Emma Watson. Jai ran through Kung-Fu Panda 3 and Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Jai is the only one who slept on the flight, but that was just a 40-minute cat nap. He was the perfect little passenger for having to sit in a chair for 13 hours. Of course we made sure to walk around the plane to stretch our legs when the seatbelt sign was turned off. We landed in Taiwan at 5 P.M. local time, but to our Los Angeles adjusted bodies it was 2 A.M. Ouch.
After a 4-hour layover that included Jai chasing other little kids around the terminal instead of us taking a family nap, we boarded the plane to Bangkok exhausted. Well… Rian and I boarded, Jai fell asleep 5 minutes before we got on and needed to be carried onto the aircraft. I can’t blame him, it was 7 A.M. to our bodies and he’d barely slept. Rian and I still hadn’t slept. We made sure to sleep most of the 4-hour flight to BKK. We landed in Bangkok, Thailand September 27th at 12:50 A.M. local time (11:50 A.M. the previous day 9/26 in L.A.).
We walked through the airport and realized that American/English privilege is a real thing. Most of the signs in the airport were written in English, which was a huge help to us. We could only imagine how hard it would be for a Thai person to arrive in New York without that same help we received. Getting through customs was easy because we were able to use the same Family, Elderly and Handicapped line, but it still took another 30 minutes before Jai got his first stamp! Luckily, we didn't have to wait for our luggage. We only took 3 carry-on backpacks and a stroller for the 9 month journey abroad.
We walked outside and hailed a taxi using their kiosks. It was very easy to do and understand. Our taxi pulled up as soon as we arrived at the pick-up location and we met our driver who helped us load the trunk. We had some trouble communicating where we wanted to go, but we had saved as much info about our hostel as we could to our phones and showed him it. He called the hostel from his phone and they gave him directions to get us there safely. It was nothing that a few smiles, patience and broken Thai and English couldn’t fix. Finally we arrived at our hostel at 4 A.M., 24 hours after we took off from LAX. We were tired, but excited to have made it, so we stayed up a bit longer letting family and friends know we had made it before going into a deep sleep.
Jai was an amazing traveler and we are so proud of his understanding and willingness to do such a daunting journey. We are also proud of ourselves for staying calm under pressure when we realized our schedule mistake and being deprived of sleep.