It took two days, three flights, five airports, and four countries to make it to India.
I left my hotel in Yangon at 9:00 am on Friday for my flight to Bangkok Don Muaeng Airport. This part was pretty painless, as was the shuttle over to Suvarnabhumi Airport. As long as you have a flight confirmation the shuttle is free and takes just an hour.
When I arrived at BKK this time for my second sleepover, I knew the drill. I knew where the restaurants were and the good benches to sleep on. I settled down to a nice Western meal of an Americano and a club sandwich and completely caught up on my blog posts. I knew I had just two hours of precious wifi so I saved these until they were all written for a major upload and scheduling session. Done by 10 pm. Time to go down to my sleeping spot.
My bench was free so I tucked my backpack underneath me, arranged my sweater on top of my carry on bag as a pillow, set my alarm for 4:30 am, and pulled on my eye shade. Then it all went wrong.
Not only could I barely sleep this time, but I was woken up at 3:30 am by a kind also-attempting-to-sleep neighbor who informed me that the floor had become a bit of a swimming pool. There was a leak somewhere and it was flooding all underneath us, right where my backpack was. Fantastic. I jumped up and hoisted it onto the bench to find the front totally soaked. Luckily this is where I keep my rain gear so I was hopeful that everything was still okay. But this meant the end of my sleep. Soon a cleaning crew arrived with squeegees and a robotic suck-up-the-water chair thing and quiet time was over.
I waited out the remainder of the hour till check-in near the counter, and once it was finally my turn I was informed that India would probably want my visa on arrival confirmation printed out, which I could conveniently do at the airport for 110 baht. But their card reader was down, so I needed baht, which I no longer had. I exchanged a measly US$5 just to do this – better to be safe than kicked out of India – and decided to use the extra 50 baht towards another Americano on the other side of immigration. I deserved it.
It was not the leisurely morning I was hoping for when I arrived so many hours before my flight, but all that melted away once I stepped onto my Sri Lankan Airlines flight. First because I heard a new welcome that I had never heard before. Then the reality hit: I wasn’t just going through the motions of travel, I was going to India. INDIA. This was entirely different from anywhere I’d been so far, and somewhere that was that end of the road “oh I’ll think about that when I get there” location. Well, time to think about it.
Second because I had forgotten how lovely it can be to fly internationally. You would’ve thought it was my first flight; I was like a kid in a candy store when I discovered the free personal entertainment – so many choices! – and was handed a menu of options for my included meal. I went with the Spanish omelette. I’m backpacking, I will eat whatever free food you’ll give me. I settled into my extra leg room exit row seat and, instead of the sleep I desperately needed, enjoyed some vegging out time.
I had a layover in the Colombo, Sri Lanka airport and easily killed four and a half hours by video editing, writing (this post! you have no idea how great it felt to be writing about where I actually was for the first time in months), and watching the Sopranos. After 15 hours in BKK, 4.5 hours felt like nothing. Then I boarded my final flight of this travel marathon to Delhi. One more movie, one more in-flight meal – this time with a glass of wine – and one more nervous seat-clutching moment of turbulence, and we landed. I was in India.
Now all I had to do was wait, with another Americano and my sign, for the arrival of MISS KRISTIN with an I KWAZnik. Because while I still would have gone through this ordeal just to see India, being joined by my best friend made it so much more worth it. Two weeks and two Kriste/ins, India was going to be incredible.