Hong Kong

Coming To Terms With My Mortality and Running Out of Time….

I just read the title of this post and it sounded so final that I reversed the order of the thoughts.  Still it remained ominous.  So here’s the disclaimer:  I am not terminally ill or ill at all.  I not only intend to come back alive but to come back revived.  Just had to write-up and notarize some papers that made me think about my mortality.

 I have not slept.  Not from excitement mind you.  I, who said to myself that I would have everything done –be completely packed with nothing to do but blog before I go- is packing up to the very last-minute.  I had been so confident that in the last days I would have little to do, that about a month ago, when a friend had asked me if I wanted to go to the Valentine’s Day, Ellen DeGeneres taping I said, sure.  “Are you sure you won’t be frantic by then?”  Of course not, I said.  Ha!

 I look at the three manila folders containing documents that are to be opened upon my death (again, I really intend to come back). They are neatly positioned in the middle of my writing desk.  They bring me a tinge of wistfulness, yet I focus on how fortunate I am that I have people in my life that are willing to take the responsibility of executing a health directive, a will, and to put my affairs in order.  A final look around and I go to a friend I am so grateful to have in my life.  She is not a morning gal but has woken at the crack of dawn to take me to the airport.

 I have managed, much to my surprise, to fit 35 days of clothes into a compact 38-pound bag.  Within some of the countries I will be flying smaller aircrafts and they enforce the maximum of 44 lbs.  Promise me that when I retell how I wash my clothes with a tiny bar of soap, with hardly any hot water and proceed to try to dry it with a borrowed blow dryer before there’s a power outage, you won’t be saying that I overdid the streamlining thing, okay?

 I arrive 4 hours early so I can relax in the Cathay Pacific lounge so I can write this blog and tell you that in Myanmar internet may be very iffy so I may not be able to post much.  Wait, the girl at the counter is saying my passport is expired.  No, let me show you the extension… See?  Oh, thank you lady.  She talks again.  Lady, no Thailand visa.  Yes, I do.  See?   Where was I?  Oh, I had every intention, as I sipped on a coffee from a real cup, of posting a goodbye and a welcome to the first leg of the trip (15 hours to Hong Kong, a small wait at the airport and then a 2 ½ -hour flight to Bangkok).    But life and Cathay have conspired to prove that nothing really goes as planned.   I had been told that due to my Elite status on AAdvantage I would be able to use the lounge.  Turns out that I cannot.  So I head out to the last gate in the airport where a bus will be taking us to the plane.  A cavernous, really cold gate.  I sit and try to access the Internet.

Just kidding... this is how it really looks.

No luck.  A kid starts crying, then another.  Same family.  Please don’t get on my plane.  Then he discovers the fun of flash photography.  And guess who is his favorite subject?  Me, of course.  On the fifth shot his mommy says:  “No baby, no pictures of nice lady.”  Lady hasn’t slept at all woman and the nice in me is not gonna last me long.   Then the announcement:  All Cathay passengers, please proceed to gate 101 which just happens to be a 15 minute walk away and literally on the opposite side of the terminal.   Then we are delayed an hour.  Turns out that the President is in town and they are working around where he will be.  Or so it is said.   Only good thing is that they check my documents and ask me to please board from the Business Class line.  So I board from that line and as the rest settle into their semi-beds I walk a few more steps to an empty Economy class.  It is now a full flight.  No seats left.

 

 I sit and pass out.  Will write on the plane and hope that I make my connection in Hong Kong with some time to spare to post this.  I arrive around midnight in Bangkok.  Will be at the hotel around 1:30 a.m. after clearing customs and the ride to the hotel (having literally lost a full 24-hours in the process).  Will be picked up at 6:00 a.m. to get on the flight to Myanmar.  I haven’t fully assimilated that we will be landing in the other side of the world.  Day two of my malaria pills and they haven’t made me sick.

The journey begins.  Happy to have you all!

Mom and Dad

My parents are on this trip too.  Was going through some photos and there they were on a plane going to Trinidad and Tobago (I think) so I included them in this post.   Let’s see what lies ahead.  In the meantime I have gone into Zen mode and am happy to report that I will go with the flow from now on.  Narry an angst to be had.  Follow me along, we will have a blast.  Right?

 

Oh, and things are looking up.  Hong Kong International Airport has free WiFi.  Yaaaay!

 

By the way it is 4:43 a.m. (day hasn’t even begun) of Feb. 17, for my Los Angeles contingency, and it’s 8:43 p.m on the 17th (day almost over) here in Hong Kong International Airport.  That just amazes me.  Yep, I get easily amazed.  🙂

 

 

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Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Hong Kong, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

8 Days to Departure. But, Who Is Counting? Oh, I am!

It is 12:30 am and I am awake. Calmly… well, maybe not so calmly but meticulously… yes, carefully making arrangements to… oh gosh no, I will not paint a picture that is not! I sit in front of my trusted Mac with my eyes tired of reading through countless blogs/forums/mails/photos that the wonderful Internet provides me with just a few clicks. I am on information overload and I am seriously considering just going back to my old procrastinating self. After all, how bad can it be to get to my Thailand portion of the trip and have all my hotel reservations done but no flights to get to the wonderful places I will go within the country? Probably really bad! I punch in my dates again. A scheduling nightmare ensues. Why was I so confident that there were going to be flights every 15 minutes?

  My passport has returned. That is a story all in itself, but I will choose to tell it later. I am just relieved that it has come back to safe harbor. It was a thrill to leaf through it and see the colorful visa stamps. For what all this process cost me I would have expected a lot more vibrancy to those colors though! Though Laos has one with a hologram that’s pretty cool.

My rambunctious inner child is still jumping up and down and going “Yay!” (I think she is eventually going to take over and will have me smiling, skipping, and dancing throughout BLT+.)

It was worth every penny, however, not to have to trek to every embassy or to have to FedEx it to one and then to another or keep track of where it was or make sure all the info was right, or… well, you get the idea. No doubt it would not have had a good outcome. When I sent my passport in December my heart was still hurting and my mind was not into details. Now I have absolutely no excuse for not getting all the pieces of this puzzle together.

I don’t usually worry too much about itineraries –I have a backpacker mentality with a gentrified execution to travel- but being it the first time that I am alone on a trip this long I am not leaving too much to chance. Or at least I’m trying not to.

I go back to booking my flights and am sort of soothed by the fact that I am making reservations towards the latter part of March. That’s really far away. The first flight on Asia Air from Bangkok to Chiang Mai seemed really cheap until it directed me to the extra charge for my bag and then more for my seat (yes, really) and then to the meal –I’m not eating- and then to insurance –no again- and then to a place where it tells me that should I not use their internet check in, at the airport they will charge me extra. Once I added an additional $55 in fees I click again and I have at least one round-trip ticket taken care of. Fortunately, Asia Air doesn’t charge you for oxygen since I am hyperventilating and using a lot of it now. Then I have to find a way that when I return to Bangkok I can just go ahead and jump on my next flight to Koh Samui. This island better be worth it ‘cause there are no cheap flights and I proceed to pay what I was not expecting. $320 dollars later I am booked on a barely 1-hour Bangkok Airlines flight.

I have a false notion that I have all the time in the world till departure until I look at my February calendar. Eight days. Only a week-and-a-day before I leave? I still have to stock my antique stores/booths in Orange, CA. My will and my health directive have to be done. I have to meet with friends. Will I manage to do it all?

My new camera lies next to my bed. I swear it stares back and says in a very snooty way “You better get to know me. I’m not that simple you know.” If we don’t get acquainted really fast I will not be able to take all those amazing photos that I promised you I’d post. Time is running out.

Will keep you posted. It’s now 2:30 am and I am going to bed. Sleep is next.
Hypnos, Somnus?

Categories: BLT+ (Burma) Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Uncategorized, Vietnam, Visas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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