Flying Away….My 16 hour Flight to Hong Kong

While waiting to board my 16 hour flight to Hong Kong, I was thinking more about my past than about the amazing things to come in the next 70 days.  After hugging my parents goodbye and painlessly making my way to the gate, I drafted thank you notes to my former coworkers and bosses that I planned to write on stationery from Thailand, and berated myself for once again, as on every flight, forgetting my earphones and needing to buy new ones from the overpriced airport store. I didn’t even try to imagine what my life would be like after flying halfway around the world.

Getting ready to escape snowy NYC in my comfiest plane outfit!

Even after boarding, I was hyper focused on documenting every mundane moment of the flight itself rather than thinking ahead:

This particular flight has me seated in an exit row with extra leg room next to the adorable 3-month-old baby George, his blonde, effortlessly cool Mom on a business trip, and his friendly, young Grandma. In the whole flight so far, Baby George has thankfully been either adorable or asleep. I have to say that the blankets on the plane are a bit nicer than on other planes – knit cotton instead of poly fleece. Still worn-in. The stewards and stewardesses are friendly and well outfitted.  The food however, is not so good.  It seems like for every meal – there are two on this 16 hour flight – there is an American-ish option and a Chinese-ish option.  I went for the Chinese option: beef with mushrooms and fried sticky rice.  All options came with a potato salad and prawn side dish.  The meat had a spice that I don’t like in it, and it was easily one of the worst airline meals I’ve had.  However, the dessert, cheesecake, was delicious!!! Sugar and dairy might not be the best way to start a 16 hour flight, but so be it.

Cathay Pacific's Airline Food

Cathay Pacific’s Airline Food

It’s amazing how I always have so much to say on the minutiae of flights. When I went to Israel I wrote the longest journal entry of my whole trip on the flight over. Hopefully this very post won’t be the shining star of my blog and I hope you’re not bored to tears, but on a 16 hour plane ride, what is there to do other than reflect? Especially when this extra legroom seat has the tv screen too far away to really even see it??? Instead of jealously watching other people enjoy their movies and Two Broke Girls marathons, I’m blogging.

How did I wind up in this seat, of all seats? On Cathay Pacific, when you check in online you have to pick your seat. I didn’t think it was important to check in right away – and oh boy was I wrong. By the time I checked in less than 12 hours before the flight, every single regular seat on the flight was taken. The only available options were the “extra legroom” seats, and only a handful of them, for a hefty extra fee of around $150. I called Cathay Pacific and after at least 30 minutes on hold, I was assigned the extra legroom seat at no extra charge.  It created a lot of unneeded stress before leaving home, as I frantically finished packing and repacking my 50L backpack.

On the flight, blogging didn’t keep me occupied for long. I enjoyed chatting with the women beside me and ogling baby George. I wound up watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and then This is Where I Leave You.  The first was amazing, the second tolerable. The screen was shockingly crisp for being so small and far away.

Breakfast introduced me to congee.  The plane ran out of omelets and in a bout of turbulence I could barely eat the delicious hot muffin and peach yogurt that came with the congee, let alone the goopy congee itself. As much as I liken myself a connoisseur of international cuisine, I was not a fan.  Nonetheless, it wasn’t a bad flight, and I was able to occupy my restless self for the full 16 hours.

About two hours before landing, it really hit me that this is real. I’m really, really far from home. I can’t go home. At least just not in any timely manner.  But after talking to the sweet grandma next to me about her trip as chaperone for giggling baby George and telling her about my plans, I felt reassured. It helped to talk to a maternal figure, or really anybody, about my upcoming trip and to let the excitement of sharing it with a stranger wash away the fear. I was proud of myself for getting on the plane.

Sometimes you have to thank yourself for even what seems like the smallest step toward scary dreams. If I could get on the plane and fly by myself to Hong Kong, the hardest part was, in a way, over. I was already in Asia. The next flight would be a cakewalk by comparison.  There was literally no turning back.  I could do this.  And I did!!

How do you feel when en route to your next destination? Anxious, excited, or at peace?

Keep following to read about my…exciting…layover in Hong Kong en-route to Chiang Mai!