One of my favourite ways to pass the time is to people watch, especially when cultural differences are at play. Thankfully, 25 hours of travelling have given me ample opportunity to sit back and observe! My route took me from Calgary to Vancouver where I met up with Tricia (more on that later!) to Beijing, and finally to Bangkok. During the 10.5 hour flight across the Pacific I was reminded again that the North American concept of personal space is something I’ll need to say goodbye to for the next three weeks. I had a window seat and when I indicated to my two seat mates that I needed to get up, they both smiled at me, collected some of their items, and leaned back in their seats. It took me a moment to realize they expected me to climb over them, since I was expecting them to stand up and move to the aisle to let me pass. And so I did my best to delicately walk past/over these two strangers without stepping on their feet or touching their legs or having too much of my body in their faces. No easy feat in economy class. I was trying to decide which way is more appropriate – should I have faced away from them or toward them as I clambered across their laps??Apparently they were unfazed because when I returned to my seat we repeated the whole hoopla again in reverse.
My friend Tricia was with me, but we weren’t able to get seats together on the flight due to an error I made earlier. Too bad… I had anticipated using those hours to get her opinion on the various details of my messy life! Instead I watched a Chinese movie by reading the subtitles and noticed throughout the film that the characters showed affection by teasing each other. Maybe we’re not that different after all…
Are you wondering what error I would have made to keep us from sitting together? For a self-proclaimed “travel expert” I sure pulled a boneheaded move; one that almost cost her missing the flight!! Here’s the scenario that I’m super embarrassed to admit. If you remember a couple weeks ago, I had both of our passports after bringing them to Ottawa in order to get our entry visas for Vietnam. The plan was for me to make a trip up to visit her before our departure and I could bring her passport, but due to some recent chaos at home I ran out of time for that. So, I told her she could just use her drivers license to fly from Edmonton to Vancouver, where I meet her, then I’d hand her her passport for our international flights. Yeah… that was really bad advice. She was able to check in for the domestic flight using other ID, but was not allowed to be checked through the connecting flights, meaning her her luggage needed to be picked up at the baggage claim after landing in Vancouver then hurried over to check in for the next flights, all while still making making it past the security line ups and back to the gate in time for boarding. There was only an hour for all this to happen, and while she was running around dealing with it I spent the whole time worrying and kicking myself for not considering a potential negative outcome prior. Thankfully, Tricia was able to charm the right people into helping her, and she arrived at the gate with minutes to spare! But because she was the last person to check in for the flight we couldn’t get seats together. But as she said after we were both onboard “we made it! If this is the worst hiccup we face on the trip we’ll be in great shape!”
Next post from Bangkok Thailand!