It is Monday morning and tonight (Tuesday at 1:00 am) is my return flight to San Francisco, departing from Hong Kong. I am currently in Bangkok, Thailand – a 4 hour flight away (you gain 1 or 2 hours).
I booked a round trip ticket months ago, choosing an arbitrary return date back to the States, with the understanding I could fly back for the holidays if I wished or extend my flight out and return after the holidays. On Thursday last week, I attempting to change the flight online. No go, website said I needed to go to an office or speak to an agent. On Friday, I was going elephant riding, so I hoped I would get back in time to the Chiang Mai office. The reservation is too complicated to speak with someone over the phone so I was hoping to make the change in person. Friday came and went, arrived too late.
Saturday, I took the overnight train to Bangkok so I could go to the office on Monday.
Monday, bright and early I went straight to the Bangkok office. I arrived at 8 am and they were closed. Thinking I was mistaken about the opening time, I returned at 8:30. I waited until 9, and no one showed up. I then went downstairs to the lobby and asked security when the office was to open. They informed me today is a holiday and the office is closed. Ok, great, a little panic.
I went to McDonalds down the road to try to use their wifi to figure out how to call reservations. Maybe, over wifi. It was too loud there and the wifi was not very strong, so I rushed across the street to the Intercontinental hotel and tried to get them to call for me. Sadly, no one picked up the phone at reservations even though the website said they were open.
Rushed to the express train to the airport. At the counter, my conversation looked like this:
Me: I would like to change my flight from HK to SF departing any time after January.
Agent: ok, let me check availability. Your flight leaves tomorrow?
Agent: No flights in January to SF, all booked.
Me: no flights? Ok, can you check, arrival to another city, New York, LA or Canada?
A: All booked.
Me: ok, what about departing anywhere else in Asia?
A: No, hub is in Hong Kong. All flights leave from Hong Kong.
Me: ok, so what you are saying is I cannot get on a return flight in January?
Me: ok, fine, what about April? Can I return in April.
A: yes, we have flights in April.
Me: ok, please book a return flight for the first week in April.
A: sorry, your ticket was booked in October and must be used within 6 months, which means your last possible date of return is March 6.
Me: ok, please book me a return on March 6 from HK to SF.
A: ok. Here is your new flight, $100 change fee can be paid on departure.
Me: ok, thank you. Why are all the flights booked?
A: due to Christmas, new years and Chinese new year (Feb. 11) holidays. We are very busy until March.
Then rushed back on the express train back to the downtown to go to the Myanmar embassy. Only to find out too, they are closed for the national holiday. I did not know Burma celebrated Thailand’s “constitution day” but I was told by law all government agencies are closed today. Will have to go tomorrow.
I wasn’t expecting my spring plans to be dependent on flight availability but now it has been decided for me. I had been thinking about a temporary short term job for Jan-March (3 months), since I have a few commitments in the US in April which would take a few weeks and I don’t know who would hire me for only a few months then requesting several weeks off.
Now, I am considering HK for a month – I have always wanted to learn Cantonese. I am considered a heritage speaker but my conversational skills are poor. It has always been something I have wanted to be fluent or at least very conversational in my family’s native language.
Other options – I have always wanted to live in New Zealand – maybe here is my chance to work on a sheep farm or be a hobbit tour guide.
Lastly, stay in Thailand and take an intensive 5 week massage course. I’ve always wanted to have healing skills.
What is your vote? Where should I go? Maybe I can be my normal self and push to do it all.