Thailand Misadventure: Losing My Passport and Flying First Class

by | Jul 30, 2012 | Reflections, Thailand | 2 comments

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths
and untrodden depths of the wilderness
and travel and explore and tell the world
the glories of our journey,”
– John Hope Franklin

I was supposed to fly home on a Tuesday. Three days later and I was still wandering the streets of Bangkok, not by choice. I guess you should be careful what you wish for. Only days before leaving Koh Tao I was saying how desperately I wished I had more time in Thailand, how I really did not want to go home. I got what I wished for, just not under the circumstances that I was dreaming about. It all began when I arrived in Bangkok, after a ferry and a bus from Koh Tao, in the middle of the night. It was only then that I realized that my passport was still back at the resort and that I had traveled across sea and land without even thinking about it. In my panic, I stayed awake until four in the morning, making frantic phone calls to my insurance company, the resort, the Canadian government in Ottawa. My passport was a bus and ferry ride away and I was supposed to catch my flight home in thirteen hours.

After numerous meltdowns in the internet cafe, my voice catching so badly that the kind man on the other end of the line was having a hell of a time understanding me and all the Thai folks on the computer staring at me like I was a martian, I had gotten absolutely nowhere. Feeling completely helpless, I walked back to my guesthouse for a quick two hour sleep before getting myself to the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok. As I left my room that morning, I gave myself a pep talk. All would be good, it was part of the adventure, what’s a few more days in Thailand? Then my tuk tuk driver told me he had no clue where he was going, told me to find it on the map and show him. It was not on the map. This one small thing made me start crying all over again. So much for my morning pep talk. By the time the tuk tuk driver found the place, he had made me laugh and was telling jokes and I felt much better. It was all going to work out.

I spent the next two hours waiting, talking to a lady who also, coincidentally, had to ask me to please calm down because she couldn’t understand me through my sobs, and finally making some progress. Two more hours later, my flight was changed for three days later.

Don’t get too excited, all was not well.

I was confirmed for the flights from Bangkok to Taipei and Vancouver to Edmonton, but I was waitlisted for Taipei to Vancouver. A bit of an important part of the flight, right? Over the next few days, I called the airline company numerous times only to be told the same thing. I was still waitlisted. It was Thursday, the day my flight had been changed to and they told me I wouldn’t be able to take the flight because, again, I was still on the wait list. The only thing that could be done was that each day, they would put me at the top of the wait list again and again, day after day, but they couldn’t tell me how long it would be before I got through. Could have been two days, a week, two weeks.

So, I took matters into my own hands. I ended up calling my parents in the middle of the night their time. Hearing my voice on the machine, my mom picked up to listen to me panic about what to do and we laughed over how crazy it all was. I decided to say screw it and book an entirely new flight home. Everything seemed fine until an hour later I received an email asking to confirm my purchase by emailing a photocopy of my passport as well as the front and back of my credit card. Well, that was weird. Someone could easily steal my identity with that information. I called the number five times, each time the line went funny and wouldn’t go through. I emailed, no reply. Eventually, I said screw it again and booked another ticket, through a company I had actually heard of and sent a firm email to the previous company telling then I refused to send that information and to cancel my purchase. Thankfully, I quickly got a reply then confirming that it was cancelled.

Finally, I had a flight booked for five o’clock AM on Friday, only six hours later. Or so I thought.

I paid the taxi, walked to the check-in, handed up my bags, ready to go. Only to be given a strange look from the lady  behind the counter and told ‘I’m very sorry, but it says here that your ticket is for tomorrow morning, not today.’ I was adamant, insisting that no, my ticket was for Friday, July 27th, today. But ‘no, I’m sorry, that’s tomorrow. Today is Thursday, the 26th.’ I insisted so much that it was Friday that she physically pointed up to the screen that clearly read ‘Thursday, July 26th, 3:30AM.’

Honestly, how much could I possibly mess up? Frustrated, I went back to the guesthouse in Bangkok, only to find out that within the two hours I was gone it had become completely booked. Thankfully, things ended well for me. I caught my flight on Friday morning and finally, a stroke of well-deserved good luck came upon me. Just as I was about to sit in my economy class seat(a really terrible seat too, middle seat of the aisle row) a stewardess came and showed me a slip of paper, asking if that was my name. It was. ‘I’m really sorry, but economy class is overbooked. You have been upgraded to executive business class instead, if you could follow me. I’m sorry to disrupt you.’ Sorry! To disrupt me to move from my crappy seat to first class? I was thrilled! Delighted, I followed her to my seat, 5A. My own little cubicle of a seat, nobody to disturb me. A blanket that wasn’t scratchy, a pillow that was fluffier, free wine and champagne flowing, a real meal when I was meant to have none(I didn’t pay for any meals in my economy class) and a seat that reclined all the way back. After watching a movie and taking two sleeping tablets, I was peacefully asleep for the next eight hours, only woken up by the kind steward shaking me awake to offer me my breakfast and tea. They even address you by your name! Miss Belair, this and Miss Belair that. It was absolutely wonderful and I woke up with no kink in my neck at all.

In all the times that I have traveled anywhere, I have been lucky. I have never been mugged, nothing has ever been stolen from my bag in a hostel(except for my towel… gross), I had never lost anything. So I guess my third summer abroad, it was about time to add a little bit of stressful excitement. But, it was all worth it to get a first class seat for that ten hour flight!

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