Thanks to the superhuman logistics agents at CSA Insurance, just a couple days after my dad’s horrendous injury we were traveling home in style. We awoke Friday morning with an SUV waiting to take us to Noi Bai Airport where a wheelchair brought us straight through security.
(Funny side-note: they barely even checked us. I carried in a metal can of coffee and a liter of water, and despite my dad’s titanium hips setting off the metal detector they didn’t even stop him to check. Not much ‘terrorism’ in Vietnam I guess 😛 )
From here we went straight to the business class lounge where we stuffed ourselves with all kinds of goodies (wishing we hadn’t eaten so much of the hotel’s crappy breakfast). Then it was off to Hong Kong.
(Again, they never even asked us to turn off our electronics. I was browsing the web on my iPhone right until we climbed high enough that the signal dropped – and right in front of the stewardess.)
You know, I hate to sound “happy” in the face of such a disaster, but I do have to admit: Business Class is pretty awesome.
Most of my readers no doubt consider me a budget traveler. I stay in cheap guesthouses, use local transport, and in particularly expensive countries I prepare my own meals. Still, I’m pretty sure that most long-term backpackers would disagree.
Unlike the real budget trips of my youth I now almost always get private rooms. I fly over long-distance hauls, party in expensive nightclubs, and carry lots of high-tech gear. And while I do still monitor my expenses – not splurging like one might on a short two week trip – I’m far less careful than I once was.
Nevertheless, Business Class is far from my mind. It’s always struck me as idiotic to pay triple just to have a bit more leg room for a few measly hours.
But oh, how wrong I was – Business Class is so much more 😛 It’s seats that recline fully into beds with power outlets and USB chargers and big fold-out TV’s; it’s studio quality headsets and gourmet menus and wine lists and armies of attentive staff who know you by name. As strange as it sounds, I think my flight from Hong Kong to LA was the first time I didn’t want to land. Even the meals were fantastic, and they just kept on coming. I couldn’t even finish the grilled seabass they brought me for dinner.
And let’s not forget the huge comfortable lounges with all-you-can eat buffets and movie rooms and beds and showers and computers. The Cathay Pacific lounge in Hong Kong is nothing short of amazing, again with more gourmet food – from noodle bars to pastries – than you could possibly try. Maybe to some of my readers this is all old news, but to me flying home in such style was was a whole new experience. Man, do they treat you right!
(…Which isn’t to say that I’d ever fork over the dough for business class myself – or even burn the extra miles – I’d much rather go three times as far. But still, I’ve got to say it was pretty awesome 😉 )
Anyway, we made it back to LA without incident and when we landed a stretch limo was waiting to take us directly to the ER. My dad was so tired he could barely think, but his doctor insisted that the foot be examined and stabilized as soon as he arrived.
And now, for the first time in almost five months, I’m about to pass out in my very own bed.
How strange it feels. Only one week ago I was preparing for my dad to come visit me in Hanoi. Four days ago I was out in the rice paddies on a dirt road among water buffalo and families of pigs. Three days ago I was in a cramped hotel room giving injections of anticoagulant and trying frantically to find a way home. One day ago I was sitting in a Business Class lounge in Hong Kong waiting for a flight across the Pacific. And now I’m staring out the window of my childhood bedroom.
What a week.
Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Friday, May 6th.