My travel began at 5:30pm, as I tearfully gave Jeremy one last hug before heading to the Hong Kong Airport. A year ago, my stubbornly single self would have laughed if someone had told me I would be crying over saying goodbye to my Australian boyfriend. What can I say, I’m a changed woman. The cab ride was riddled with nostalgia interrupted by a clicking meter that made a beeping noise every 15 seconds.
After an atypical passport and ticket check to get into the building, things went shockingly smoothly. I was anticipating big guys with guns and being held in a windowless room for questioning given the riots and political unrest in Hong Kong, but it seemed like just another day. A nice man pointed me towards a self-service check-in line so I could cut the line and drop my bag followed by flying through security in 5 minutes. I didn’t even have to take off my shoes!
I spent the 90 minutes wandering through the floor with an expansive food court followed by the floor with high end shopping. I want to be friends with whoever is dropping a couple grand on a sensible Chanel dress or Fendi bag at the airport. Some of the gift shops had free samples, so I moseyed around casually snacking, not wanting to buy dinner in anticipation of the free airplane food ahead.
I was flying United for all three steps of the journey, hopeful the grub would be halfway descent.
Flight One: Hong Kong to San Francisco
I was nodding off as meal one came rolling down the aisle by a 40-year-old white woman with fake eyelashes, big hair, and a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. I went with the chicken over the noodle option, and was served a chicken lo mein of sorts along with a roll in a plastic bag and shredded cabbage salad. The salad was crisp, light, and edible, but the entrée was a step above cat food. A pile of stringy noodles was topped with a chicken mixture drenched in a salty sauce. “Chicken” is a loose term, given the fact I only managed to dig out a couple pieces. I took a couple bites and decided it wasn’t what my stomach wanted for the remaining 11 hours in the air. A small serving of vanilla ice ream came soon after, and it was just about as exciting as vanilla ice cream can be…
A nice highlight was that I was given a whole can of club soda without having to ask as oppose to 2 sips getting poured into a cup. They also handed out Dasani water bottles, which I gladly took upon remembering my dehydrated state when walking off the plane in Fukuoka 10 days ago. Before the lights went down, the flight attendants handed out one more snack of a little bag of Chinese rice crackers of sorts; classic Asia.
I managed to get a couple hours of sleep before the next snack came. This one was a ham and cheese sandwich on a white roll. I picked out the two slices of meat and small rectangle of cheese while politely discarding the rest. A nice surprise in the bag was the small piece of Toberlone chocolate.
After a bit more snoozing and watching a TV show called Chernobyl, the lights came up and the 6:00pm breakfast was served. It consisted of scrambled eggs, a beige colored sausage link, broccoli, potatoes, and one stewed tomato. It was bland and lacked texture, but for airplane food, it wasn’t half bad and was far better than the first meal. A cookie/cracker/biscuit that was filled in a mochi-like paste came on the side, and it was perhaps my favorite edible item of the flight.
Flight Two: San Francisco to Chicago
Traveling back from Asia is the ultimate time travel mind bender, and my tired mind was still blown that I was heading into yet another overnight flight. I immediately tried to get cozy with the window in unsuccessful attempts to sleep. It was only a 4-hour flight, meaning the snack cart only rolled down the aisle once, offering pretzels, biscoff cookies, or stroopwaffle. Airlines sure are getting cheap these days. I ended up taking the dry, card paper pretzels.
Flight Three: Chicago to Baltimore
After 27 hours of travel, what’s another 2? The flight seemed to simply go up and down to get to BWI, and I once again snacked on some dry pretzels to give my exhausted body a bit of energy.
The Remaining Journey:
Upon arriving at BWI, I got the lovely news that my suitcase had been sent to Dulles. Great. Operating on little to no sleep, I couldn’t handle the rude sass from the United woman behind the glass who got frustrated with my apparent inability to understand her questions. I said ma’am, “I have been traveling for 30 hours…. Please don’t be rude to me”, collected a receipt, and left.
I hopped in a Lyft with an overly chatty Persian/Italian man who told me his entire life story to pass the time. An hour later, and I happily retrieved my bag before seeing my mom and dad and collapsing in exhaustion.
But wait… it’s not over yet!
I munched on a turkey sandwich until Aunt Carol hobbled up to the table and immediately starting spouting out her qualms with the fact the bus fare had gone up. (The anomaly of Aunt Carol is a story best shared for another time. But for a bit of context, imagine your craziest relative, and make them 4 times louder and 8 times more critical.)
After three hours in the car, I had finally made it home.
A cap of the 35 hour journey…
5:30 pm Cab to Hong Kong Airport: 45 Minutes,
Hong Kong Aiprort: 5 hours
HK to SFO: 12 hours
SFO Airport: 5 hours
SFO to ORD: 4 Hours
ORD Airport: 1 hour
ORD to BWI: 2 hours
BWI to IAD: 1 hours
IAD wating: 30 minutes
IAD to Home: 3 hours
It felt good to fall onto my bed, knowing I there were no more planes, no more cabs, and no more cars. Well, at least for 4 more days….