May 8. Actually, I’ll need to begin this day on the night before. On the night of the 7th, I had left Mae Sariang for the last time. I was scheduled to fly home on the morning of the 8th. This was a bit sooner than I had originally planned, but in order to ensure that I had a summer job I needed to be home earlier. My goodbyes with the staff and children were short and sweet. However, if the other children had been there I’m sure it would have been a different farewell. With Bay, Goe, and Tim all in America, I didn’t feel as sad, but it was still depressing to leave the place you had called home for a month. Brian, Bowjoe, and Doe came with me into Chiang Mai for one last good time together, and we did have a great last night.
We didn’t even waste time hanging around the base house. As soon as we arrived, the Thailand Manager drove us to the mall for dinner where I experienced my last authentic Thai meal for a very long time. I ordered some delicious curry and some sticky rice and mango to finish. Afterwards, we wandered aimlessly through the mall trying to find the main exit (all the other ones had been locked). Upon finding the main exit, we spotted a movie theater inside the mall. I hadn’t seen an actual movie in a while and was eager to. Thankfully, Fast and Furious 5 was playing at midnight and it was the only movie in English.
I ended up not sleeping that night. The four of us went back to the base house talked until 5:00, at which time I needed to board my plane to Bangkok. I wanted to keep my goodbyes to everyone as brief as possible (it’s really not in me to have drawn out goodbyes). It actually turned out to be more of a “see you later!” than a goodbye. From that point on, things starting going badly.
I needed to wait another hour for the check-out counter to open, which wouldn’t have been a problem if my flight didn’t leave in an hour and a half. After checking my baggage, I had to continue through customs. However, I was stopped halfway through the procedure and asked to step out of the line. It turns out that I had stayed 8 days over my 1 month visa. I had to pay 500 baht for every day I had stayed over, in cash. Now, I had spent all my cash beforehand and I lost my ATM card days ago, so consequentially I had no means of paying, and that was just the beginning.
I exhausted every guilt trip in my arsenal, but this customs officer was immune to my charms. The only option left to me was to find Wi-Fi, Skype my parents, have them give me the PIN to my backup credit card, and buy a new flight to Bangkok. It all went surprisingly smoothly and I was on my way to Bangkok within the hour.
I wanted nothing more than to doze off on my flight to Bangkok, but I couldn’t. I was too anxious about the next flight to even blink. The customs officer caused me to sacrifice crucial time for my transfer to the flight going from Bangkok to Hong Kong and now I only had 30 minutes to check my bag, check in, pay my way through customs, head through security and make my way through one of the world’s largest airports to my gate.
I tried preparing for the upcoming ordeal as well as I could. I nagged the flight attendant to make sure that my luggage was handed to me as soon as we landed, so I wouldn’t need to go through baggage claim, and I put all my metal into my backpack, leaving only the cash I needed, my boarding pass, and my passport in my pocket. All my daily runs also came in handy, because if I hadn’t have sprinted through the airport, I would have never made that flight.
I was too relieved and full of adrenaline to sleep on the flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong. I tried blogging about my flight, but I wasn’t in the mood to write. Even attempting a little self-reflection was too much for me to handle. In the end, I gave up trying to do anything productive and decided on watching a few movies before I landed in Hong Kong. Even during my 4 hour layover, I couldn’t let the creative juices flow.
For 4 hours, I walked around the airport, eating lunch, and peering at the quirky, duty-free items for sale. I began to feel guilty of how much time I was wasting, and the endless rows of perfume and rum wasn’t helping this feeling. Then I realized, I was feeling a sense of loss, one that I had felt only once before. That was when I was on my way home from my service trip in Tanzania so many years ago. But before I had time to let this feeling swell inside me, I was falling asleep on the plane to New York.