Going Home

January 17, 2009 - 9:30 am No Comments

From Khao San, we grabbed a taxi to the airport. Forcing the driver to use the meter, it cost us half as much as what we’ve been paying. Finally, we’re getting this down.

We took off from Bangkok in an enormous 747-400, biggest plane in the Air France fleet. It really took some effort to gain some altitude, though, almost like the plane weighed too much. I went right to sleep. Woke up for dinner served with METAL forks and knives. WTF?

The coach seating on these international flights is uncomfortable. No leg room, and you sit so upright that you’re almost leaning forward, making it impossible to sleep since your head is bobbing around like a carnival toy. And those inflatable, U-shaped neck supports that Doug and I have don’t help, since the gap of the U is in front of you and, because you are sitting so upright, your head keeps falling forward. Wearing the neck support backwards prevents your head from falling, but if you have an Adam’s apple like me, you are choked while you sleep. Still not sure if it’s worth the several hundred dollar upgrade to first class, though.

Sitting next to Doug was a young girl from Virginia. They struck up a conversation about the usual stuff like her reason for travel, what she saw, and school. Inevitably, she asked Doug when he graduated. Doug looked at me. We knew that this would be where the conversation ends. When Doug answered “1998,” the girl put her head down and went to sleep. 32 is the new 52.

The flight took us back on roughly the same route, only this time I was awake for a different part of it. Looking out the window, we flew by Odessa, Vienna, and Prague, each a spider of sulfur lights in the blackness.

By the time we got to France, I couldn’t see anything. We descended all the way into Paris without seeing any lights. Heavy fog blanketed the city. Saw the runway lights whizzing by just a moment before touching down.

We’re in Paris for about five hours, not really enough time to really do anything in Paris since a) there’s not really enough time to commute back and forth, b) it’s the middle of the night, and c) I feel like crap.

What I think was probably just a cold intensified by the air pollution of Siem Reap now plagues me with a pounding headache, coldness, and a general malaise (points for using French in France?).

I walked in slow motion to our gate, and we plopped our stuff down. I walked around trying to figure out what I could do to keep warm. My jacket and hat were packed, and it felt drafty wherever I walked. I discovered that the grill on the floor and lining the windows throughout the terminal was producing heat, so I laid down on it, rotating a few times to make sure I was cooked evenly. It was glorious. I just woke up and feel much better.

We’re about to board our last leg home to Washington. Sitting on the grill are two “arroy ma” flight attendants waiting to board the same flight. Air France knows how to recruit.

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