“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” –Al Gore
How do you get to Sri Lanka? Practice, practice, practice! What? That’s Carnegie Hall? Well, I think it might actually be easier to get the five of us to Carnegie Hall than it was to get us to Colombo. (Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital. It always made me think of the TV detective, until the International Man of Intrigue pointed out that the show was actually “Columbo,” and now it just makes me think that he ruined it for me.) Our entire trip, door to door, was about 36 hours, if my math is anywhere near correct. Math is not my strong suit, so give or take 12 hours on my calculations. Even though I’m sure you’d just love to read every word of a blow by blow account of our trip, I’ll hit the highlights.
We lived a 5 minute car ride away from our small airport. Cinch, right? Nope. Getting 14 suitcases, 6 carry-ons and 5 people there proved to be a major hurdle. Seems no cab company had a mini van available at 4 a.m. Fine. We’re the Intrigue family, we can deal. So, one poor cab driver got to make three trips to get all of us and all of our crap there.
I know some of you are immediately annoyed at reading the amount of luggage we were taking. Not as annoyed as I was. Oh, and not as annoyed as the people standing in line behind us, trust me. The International Man of Intrigue and I fancy ourselves travelers. In college, we traveled Europe for weeks with only a backpack and a tomato box. (What? You use luggage? Well, obviously you’ve missed travel enlightenment if you aren’t using a tomato box. True.) Here’s the thing I had to get over: We weren’t traveling. We were moving. We have children. Small ones. We needed a pack and play, diapers, tons of baby food (because it can’t be ordered through the mail), and lots of OTC medicine. We also had Christmas and Gertrude Bell’s birthday to celebrate after our household got packed up and before we left the U.S., and Amelia Earhart’s and Arthur Dent’s birthdays to celebrate shortly after our arrival. Oh, and we had to pack a box containing 2 high back boosters and one convertible car seat (which will come back to haunt us later in the story). So, we had a boatload of stuff. It was still one less bag than we were authorized, so maybe I should have packed more shoes…
Well, I just got all defensive, and no one has even made any snarky comments or anything. Sorry. Moving on…
Can I tell you, while LAX is the scourge of the Devil, Cathay Pacific Airline is awesome?! Immediately upon boarding, our girls were given Disney themed activity kits and we were handed a diaper kit for Arthur Dent, which even contained sample sizes of Mustela baby goodies. I’m a sucker for free sample sized toilitries, so Cathay had me right there. They also had a pre-installed infant seat for Arthur Dent, as promised, and their flight attendants were so in love with the kid, I thought the biggest problem might be that they’d have to say goodbye to him in Hong Kong.
It’s at this point I have to wonder how people like the Pilgrims crossed the ocean on ships with no in-flight on-demand movie and game system. That thing was a lifesaver. Amelia Earhart got to watch Alice in Wonderland twice in a row. Gertrude Bell enjoyed playing an episode of Handy Manny on repeat because there was a baby in it. (She’s almost as big a sucker for babies as those Cathay Pacific flight attendants.) I got to watch THREE WHOLE MOVIES! And, since they were my choice, I could pause them every five minutes to take one of the little explorers to the lavatory! I watched “Our Idiot Brother” (HILARIOUS!), “The Help” (predictable but endearing), and “The King’s Speech” (totally get the Oscar hype).
And then we got to Hong Kong. Late. And discovered that the infant seat we had been repeatedly promised and had gotten on the first leg of our trip was unavailable for and incompatible with the plane we were riding on from Hong Kong to Bangkok and Bangkok to Colombo. Talk about two grouchy parents. For the next 7 hours, we were going to have to hold Arthur Dent. The folks at Cathay were very apologetic, even offering to get our gate-checked carseat out of the plane in Bangkok. Unfortunately, it wasn’t gate checked, it was under 17 layers of packing tape in a moving box with who knows what else we shoved in there, since they had assured us during no less than five phone conversations that we would have their handy-dandy infant seat. So, we sucked it up and made it through the next 7 hours and arrived in Colombo sometime in the middle of the night.
Arriving in Colombo in the middle of the night after a 36 hour trip is kind of like partying at a club all night and then having the lights come up after last call. You’re left squinting and wondering how bad your hangover is going to be the next morning. Two weeks later, and I’m still wondering. I’m going to take some asprin and a Diet Coke and get back to you.