“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton
The anticipation of this adventure was so high, I almost came unglued a few times before the departure date even arrived. This trip of a lifetime was planned and I was going to go through with it, regardless of what may come. So, on Saturday, January 4th, 2020, my best friend, Chuck, and I headed to the Nashville International Airport to set off for Chiang Mai, Thailand.
We arrived at the ticket counter to check our bags. Our flight (American Airlines) had been canceled, but they were able to get us on an earlier flight. It was a good thing we had made our way to the airport early. We made it through security in no time, thanks to Chuck having TSA Pre-check (if you do not, get it) and on to our gate to wait. We starting boarding for the first leg of our trip and the layover in Chicago. This short flight (thank goodness) was pretty miserable. The plane was tiny, it was extremely HOT on board, and it was full of unhappy babies.
While in Chicago, the delays began yet again. Our departure time moved several times. Still, we remained in pretty good spirits and excited about this trip. After two delays we finally boarded and began the journey to Los Angeles for the second leg of the trip. This flight was uneventful once we finally got in the air.
Landing in Los Angeles we had under 30 minutes to get to our next flight because of the delays in Chicago. We rushed to our gate, luckily it was close, and boarding had already begun. So, on the plane we went. This was going to be the long 14.5 hours flight to Hong Kong. The plane was huge and the overhead bins were packed tight. But we were on the plane and embarking on this most amazing trip. Then the nightmare began. We sat for 40 minutes, in our seats, awaiting pulling away from the gate. Finally, the plane began to move. I was so excited and the early hiccups were just that in my mind. Then the plane stopped. There was a problem with the nose and they had to get maintenance over to look at it. Thirty minutes later, the maintenance team arrived. They did not have a tow bar, so we had to wait for them to get one. Then they broke it. We waited for about another 30 minutes (yes, we are still on the plane) and they announced we would be pulling back to the gate. The flight was canceled. It was approaching 1:00 am and everyone was tired. We were told upon exiting the plane that staff would be ready to give us hotel and food vouchers for the night. We would also be made aware of our next flight. We (by that I mean Chuck) had to make arrangements to get another flight out of Hong Kong because we would not be making that connection. The line for the hotel vouchers was enormous and 2.5 hours later we had them. We exited the airport and we were shuttled to a hotel. Luckily, we were at the Westin. We had to be back at the airport for our 11:00 am flight which would get us to Hong Kong.
We arrived back at the airport and had yet another delay. So, now we would be departing at 3:30 pm. Luckily that would not interfere with our flight out of Hong Kong. But now we would not be able to enjoy our 8-hour layover in Hong Kong to explore. But we were on the plane and on our way. The flight was lovely. The team was friendly and the food was tasty. I was lucky enough to have an empty seat beside me and that sure made the long flight easier.
And just like that in 15.5 hours, we landed in Hong Kong for our final flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I bet you can guess what happened next! You are right, our flight was canceled and we would have to stay overnight in Hong Kong and get a new flight to Chiang Mai. This sounds fun but it was 11:45 pm when we arrived and we would have to be back for our flight at 6:00 am. By the time we made our way through the airport, picked up our bags (they made us), cleared customs and got to our room it was 3:00 am. We had scheduled our taxi for 5:15 am. We both showered and Chuck slept for an hour. And back to the airport, we went.
We were nearly the first people at the airport. Hong Kong International is GIANT. I am telling you, I can not even tell you. If you have not been, you will not be able to fathom it. Yet, it was very easy to navigate and we were at our gate in no time. We had time to have a bite to eat before our flight started to board. By this time we had nothing but pure excitement running through us. We boarded the plane and off we went. We shared the row with a wonderful Lady, Teletha, who was traveling with her husband Mike. They are from Chattanooga. What a small world!?!? They had lived in Chiang Mai for 3 years, so they had all kinds of pro tips for us. And in no time, we were landing in Chiang Mai!
The journey was long. The journey was stressful. But we made it and all in one piece. Everyone says that I will look back on the speed bumps of this trip to get here and it will be part of the adventure. That may very well be true. I will say this, I am ready for the fun part to begin!!!!!!