Thursday, June 6, 2013

Airport Adventures


I've officially become an 'American' worldly traveler. This gains me huge appraisal as one cannot easily become a worldly traveler without lots of experience... and children. When I first arrived in Malaysia, I was informed that Americans are rarely known to be worldly travelers. I, for one, did not dispute this bit of insignificant information. As far as I'm concerned, the French can take top recognition for this particular category followed by the Dutch. And because once upon a time, not long ago, traveling was one of my biggest nightmares. I was perfectly content staying in my country than jumping on a plane and flying my entire family thousands of miles to live in an underdeveloped one.

From our first big move from Houston to Malaysia to all other subsequent trips, I would lose sleep, night after night, before the 'giant leap for mankind'. I'd become completely stressed out over the idea of getting on a plane and traveling halfway across the planet overseas. Not because of a possible devastating plane crash, but because I anticipated how our kids were going to cope during those grueling hours while traveling on an airplane for 2 days straight with several transits along the way. Let alone, embarking and disembarking the aircraft with children, I suspected would be a challenge in itself. Walking (More like carrying) them out of the aircraft, chasing them down at security checkpoints, followed by piggyback rides to terminal gate 99. And in the midst of it all, I'd be hanging on to that single glimpse of hope that ONE DAY we will have finally arrived at our final destination in one piece.

I remember those grueling flights as if it were yesterday. My three-year-old running up and down the aisles of the plane, climbing over seats, wreaking havoc and discomfort to all the passengers on board...Myself included! Having to change my uncooperative two-year-old's poopy diapers in a toilet room the size of a telephone booth. Restless nights and days, traveling from dusk till dawn, through thunderstorms and rain. Delayed flights accompanied by hours of crying and entertaining anxious children in a cold, deserted terminal of an airport. Not to mention, the moment of zombification. Yes, zombification. We are utterly exhausted and disillusioned by the lack of oxygen inside the aircraft. Our bodies shriveled from dehydration and kinked from being stuck in a lotus pose on a plane 30,000 feet above sea level for OVER 18 hours! We grovel from terminal to terminal, security checkpoint to security checkpoint, followed by queuing up in endless rows in immigration. Then, finally, 3 to 4 planes later (I've lost count) and hours of disillusionment, WE, MIRACULOUSLY are on our last flight... READY FOR TAKE OFF.

Three years later. The children are now five and six, and they cope much better on plane rides. The stress that comes from the thought of flying with my kids has dissipated.

How do I conquer the madness?
'drum roll.'


I dive right into the pit of doom. I endure it and conquer it. Do I enjoy it? no, not exactly. It's how expats and locals travel in and around Asia. Thankfully, the children are getting used to it.

So here's my thought process at a glance: Once I hit the check-out button on, I, eventually, pack our bags, then think fast forward into our destination. I don't dare to think about the travel part in between. Once I'm on the plane, it's a done deal. And here's the best part! It's worth any bit of anxiety that lingers within me because most destinations in Asia are ISLANDS, surrounded by beautiful beaches with astonishing views! I need not mention, the scheduled Spa treatment that's waiting for me on those beautiful beaches as we arrive.

And all the while, I have a blast taking photos and videos of our children having a blast!
Here's a video of Nicholas when he was five at one of those forsaken airports, needing a break in a massage chair.