Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Heading Home

My first flight has successfully deposited me safe and sound here in Hong Kong.  It was quite something though getting me through the international airport in Jakarta and onto the plane.  My adventure started when Jason and I were picked up at the apartment in Jakarta by the airport taxi service.  I thought it was rather fitting that the same man who had picked me up when I arrived was now picking me up for my departure.

We had quite a lively discussion on many topics while navigating the traffic jams in Jakarta on our way to the airport.  I was so proud of Jason just listening to him speak so fluently in Bahasa Indonesia.  Our taxi driver also spoke fairly good English and between the two of them, I was able to participate in the conversations about 30% of the time.  He never stopped talking though, mind you.  When we finally arrived at the airport, I jokingly told Jason, “Well, I think I’ve used up my full allotment of ‘people interaction’ for the day and I’m not even on the first plane yet.” 

Jason smiled and said, “I know.   He’s a very nice fellow but sometimes I’d really like to just sit quietly and look out the window on these rides.”

Once we got my bags out of the taxi and into the airport, we could see the Cathay Pacific ticket counters in the next big room.  However, we had to go through a security queue first.  Jason and I got up to the guard and he asked for our boarding passes.  I was quite surprised since Jason was planning to help me with my big suitcases right up to the point where I would check them at the counter and then we planned to spend an hour together just talking and sipping coffee before I had to go through the final security check.  That was the plan.  However the reality was that he couldn’t go any further with me so our time together was really cut short.  He ran to get me a luggage cart and gave me some final instructions on how to maneuver the cart through the security checkpoint and then he promised to stand on the other side of the glass until I was all checked in and he saw me turn and wave at him.
Well, I got things a little flubbed up.  I don’t do too well with stress and unexpected changes in plans at the last minute so I was really feeling flustered.  I got the cart over to the machine ok, manhandled the bags off the cart, except for my carry-on bag which had gotten stuck in the rungs of the cart.   I pulled and pulled and finally wrenched it free.  Onto the pulley belt it went, followed by my two suitcases and coat.   As I started for the electronic arch to walk through it, the guard looked at me and said, “Purse.”  Whoops, I had forgotten to put my purse on the belt.  I slung it down on the belt and walked through the arch.  I beeped!  Sheesh!  I have no idea what was beeping although it could have been my watch, which they hadn’t asked me to take off.  Indeed, they didn’t have any trays to put little objects in so I hadn’t even considered taking off the watch.  You guessed it!  I had to stand there next while the guard wanded me all over.  I guess I passed because he motioned me over to the belt to pick up my suitcases. 

I was REALLY flustered now as I again tried to manhandle the suitcases off the belt.  Those things are heavy and I hadn’t planned to deal with them until baggage claim in New York so my mind just wasn’t in gear.  I grabbed the cart and finally got the suitcases and my carry-on bag on the cart and off I trundled to the check-in counter.  I handed my ticket and passport to the agent and manhandled the bags yet again onto the scale.  As I waited for the man to give me my boarding pass, I thought perhaps I should get a Kleenex out of my purse.  Oh, no!  My purse was nowhere in sight.  My heart about stopped as I gasped to the ticket agent, “I think I left my purse at the security checkpoint.  Can I run over there and check?”  He didn’t say “no” so I rushed back over to the conveyor thingie and said, “Purse.”  The guard looked at me and held up my bag.  Hooray!  They had picked it off the belt and put it aside.  I thanked them profusely and headed back to the ticket counter.  Oh, my!  I sure wouldn’t have gotten far with no handbag.
It took me awhile to have the courage to look in my handbag to make sure my billfold was still in there but when I did, everything was still in place.  Hooray!  After that, everything else was a piece of cake.  I turned and waved a final time at Jason before heading off to find my gate.  He waved back, I grabbed a tissue and dabbed my eyes as I trundled off, whereupon I promptly decided that I didn’t have a clue where I was supposed to be heading.  I found some ladies who looked like they were stewardesses and asked them where to find the departure gates and they pointed me in the right direction.  
The bright spot of the departure was that there were still a few shops that were open, including one batik shop and I was able to find several last minute items that I had been hoping to purchase.  The timing couldn’t have been better because within 15 minutes, the shops were locking up and the terminal was pretty quiet except for those of us who were flying out via the red-eye flights.
My flight to Hong Kong boarded right before midnight and to my delight, I discovered that I was the only one in my row.  I had the whole row to myself.  The flight wasn’t full at all.  Let me tell you, though, even though an aisle seat is nice to have when it comes to getting up to go to the loo, it is NOT conducive to sleeping.  It was miserable.   Sleep had to wait though because around 1 a.m. the stewardesses brought our meals.  
The flight was supposed to include breakfast.  Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t consider chicken and rice or fish and rice breakfast, would you?  I chose the chicken and rice since I simply couldn’t look a fish in the face at 1 a.m.  My first bite gave me a definite surprise.  If that was chicken, then poultry must moo.  I decided that the white rice looked pretty safe so I switched to that after a few more bites of the bovine chicken.
After the meals were cleared away, a stewardess came up to me and asked if I would mind filling out a survey.  Hey, I have a chance to win two tickets to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific by filling it out so I agreed.  While I was singing their praises, the lights in the cabin were turned off.  OK, folks wanted to sleep and that wasn’t a problem but I wanted to finish the survey so I looked around to try to figure out how to turn on my light.  It didn’t appear to be on the ceiling area by the actual lights so I concluded that it was on my armrest.  The only problem was, when I pressed the picture of a light bulb, nothing happened.  Finally I hailed a passing stewardess and asked her for assistance.  She tried punching my button and it didn’t work for her, either.  Then she tried punching the button on the seat next to me….that one didn’t work either.  
“I’ll have to turn it on at the control panel,” she said.  That was fine by me and off she went.  Let there be light.
Once I was done with the survey, I was ready to try to sleep.  I pushed the light bulb button and nothing happened.  Oh, wait.  That’s not entirely true.  Sometime during the survey, the light for the seat next to me had come on, so I now had two lights on in my row and neither one would turn off.
I again had to hail an attendant and this time ask them to turn off the lights.  Of course, they had to try punching my buttons first (no pun intended) and of course, they didn’t work so off they went to the control panel again.  The lights went off.
I snuggled down in my seat, pulled the blanket up to my chin and started to dose off.  Wham!  Suddenly the middle light came on and was aimed right in my face.  Half asleep, I almost yelled out, “OK, I did it.  I confess.”  Oh, wait……it was that pesky malfunctioning light again.  The stewardess came hurrying over.  
“Did you press the button with your arm?” she asked.
“No,” I assured her.”  “I could press that thing with my whole fist and it still wouldn’t work.  Try it for yourself.”  Again she pressed the buttons and nothing happened.  Off she went again and off the light went.
About an hour later, I woke up to find the light was on again.  My arm wasn’t anywhere close to the controls.  That’s how it went the rest of the flight.  The two lights would come on randomly and the stewardess would have to go to the control panel to get them off.  Wouldn’t you know that I had turned in that survey at the start of the lights incident or I could have mentioned them.  
All in all, though, I highly recommend Cathay Pacific Airlines.   They are very nice to fly with and the staff are so courteous and attentive.  They really treat you like royalty.  I mean, obviously, they must have known that I was a woman with a theatrical background because they had seated me in the row with the spotlights, right?  It’s too bad that the seats didn’t come with built-in microphones.  I DO love karaoke!
So now I’m waiting here in Hong Kong for the last leg of my trip – my non-stop flight to New York City.  I’ll catch you on the other side of the pond.


Karyn said...

LOL. I know what you mean about having your plans change at the last second. I would have struggled with having to say goodbye long before I was ready, too.

The 'spotlight' story was hilarious, although it was probably quite frustrating for you.

Hope your last leg is even less eventful!

cindy said...

Amazing your purse was there. Too bad the change in plans set you out of sorts. Remember take a deep breath.