Around the World in Five Days

Note: While I was home a my friend Brook informed that I should start telling the whole truth on these pages. That all the good stuff is a bit insufferable and that I need to start painting a more realistic picture before all my friends sell their homes and follow my path. Admittedly I try not to be negative here and I gloss over or completely omit a lot of the trials of a traveler’s life. This post however should make up for that.

I was ready to hit the road. My time in Colorado had completely revitalized me and I was eager for the second half to begin. I drove myself to the airport and watched as a few clouds began to blow in, signaling a snow storm on the horizon. I checked in and grabbed a seat in the lobby so I could say goodbye to Dan when he came by on his way home from work to fetch my car and see me off. All was going according to plan.

My flight schedule was heinous. A three-day global circumnavigation the likes of which only a directionally-challenged sadomasochist could dream up. The product of piecing together three tickets to get to India. Aspen to Munich, Munich to Bangkok and Bangkok to India. The Aspen to Munich portion was a paid ticket. Munich to Bangkok a Mileage Plus reward ticket to get me back to my round-the-world ticket which I pick up in Thailand. It was an intricate house of cards and it came predictably tumbling down in the foreshadowing winds of that oncoming snowstorm.

As Dan waited patiently in the lobby, I stood shaking at the United counter, having just been informed that if/when I missed my SFO>MUC connection and thus my flight from Munich, that I would have forfeited the remainder of my Mileage ticket. There is a long story here that involves me crying, a bit of impassioned pleading and finally the shaking part, but bottom line was that they told me in order to get to Bangkok in time to get to India I was looking at two choices. The first was $6,000, the second was $2000.

I sent Dan home and boarded the plane, praying for some kind of aviation intervention that would allow me to make it to the SFO>Munich gate in 15 or less minutes. Then all my hopes were dashed. The pilot came on and said something about how they were trying to load too many fur coats and Louis Vuitton steamer trunks and how we had to be de-iced and that the new projected landing time in SFO was 9:30, fifteen minutes after the Munich flight departed.

I slumped in my coach seat and tried to devise a plan. Alright, not the end of the world. Beth lives in San Francisco. I can move in with her, and heck it’s the Tour of California this week, I can tag along with Roberto. I’ll just give up on India, I mean how many signs do I need to know I am unwanted, and then I’ll scour the travel sites to find a cheap ticket to Bali for April. It’s not the end of the world…

And then the miracle happened. The lights came on, the door opened and the flight attendant said “we have been weight restricted, I need two volunteers to deplane, for which you will be rerouted without charge and given a free ticket for US travel.” Graceful I am not, but swift, oh yeah! I was at the door in two shakes of a tail feather. An hour later I had all new tickets, including the free one and Dan was picking me up again for one final night in down enveloped bliss.

The big downside here was that my new routing was even more heinous than the original one, but it didn’t cost me two grand so I danced a jig and thanked everyone profusely.
Now five days, five countries, six flights and an ill-advised third class train ride later I am in Mysore, India. I am as sleep deprived as I have ever been.

Fun facts:
• Upon landing in Munich I promptly went and had a spit, (a nice Aussie term for tossing one’s cookies) thanks to an unfortunate cup of coffee mixed with a yogurt and half an hour of neck breaking decent turbulence. This marks the first time I have ever endured motion sickness and I would like for it to NEVER happen again.

• Munich’s Lufthansa lounge has sleepers in the First Class section and the kindly women at the desk took one look at my pallor and generously granted me entrĂ©e where I got the most sleep I would for the next three days.

• Munich and Vienna both have sex shops in their airport terminals. I can't help but wonder if sales aren't affected by the fact that both are situated directly before the security x-ray machines.

• United no longer serves free drinks on international flights. I think this is cause for a revolution.

• My suitcase liked Munich so it decided to spend a few extra days there.

• Thanks to my suitcase’s prolonged vacation I wore the same velour tracksuit for three days. In Bangkok they gave me an overnight kit, which consisted of XXS grannie panties and an XL white T-shirt. Could anything be less attractive for a woman to sleep in?

• I was in Bangkok for less than 24 hours. In that time, while effectively sleepwalking I managed to get my phone unlocked (shh, don’t tell), put up a post on this site, shower, buy enough clothes to get me out of the Juicy suit and get scammed by two taxi drivers.

• A Red Carpet Club card gets you into any Star Alliance lounge in the world except for Bangkok’s Thai Airways lounge. A fact I did not know until I had to spend five hours at the airport awaiting the arrival of my luggage.

• Among the lifesavers I feel compelled to mention during this odyssey are… The Red Carpet Club (except Bangkok’s), Ambien, Pinot Grigio, four seasons of Weeds viewed on my laptop and noise-canceling headphones.

Alright back to the story… So at almost midnight on February 12 I landed at the Bangalore airport. My taxi ride to the hotel felt like one of those movie drug scenes, where everything is flying by in a tunnel of neon, dotted intermittently with close ups of cars too nearby and with a Bollywood soundtrack blaring over the cheap blown out speakers. Once at my pre-booked, moth ball scented, not cheap, slum of a hotel, I managed to get about 3 hours of sleep before the arriving dawn light let me get a good look at my lodging conditions and effectively lit a fire under me to get out of Bangalore.
My haste to leave the city is how I ended up on a third class train to Mysore, which took five hours. Had I been able to wait one more hour I would have gotten on the 1st class express and would have been there two hours earlier, but sleep deprivation and squalor are a bad mix for normally savvy travelers.
I was the ONLY non-Indian on the standing room only train. Not a single moment of the five hours went by without people openly and unabashedly staring at me. I have never been so self-conscious in my life, have never loathed my golden locks or blue eyes so totally. About four hours into the train ride I read in my Lonely Planet about a five-star resort in Mysore and about thirty seconds later managed to justify the expense.
Today I write from the balcony of my bungalow, serenaded by geese, monkeys and a plunge pool. I fell asleep yesterday at 4pm and woke this morning at 7:30. I have showered, burned my velour tracksuit and eaten enough Dhal to convince me that three hours a day of yoga notwithstanding, I won’t be losing any weight in India.

I think I am going to like it here.


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