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21 January, 2013

Thailand: The final leg toward home (Monday)

We hadn't really thought too much about the implications of an 8am departing flight. On a Monday. It would be necessary to get to the airport early enough to account for traffic, and to deal with whatever insanity was at the airport. I don't remember much about the transit to the airport, other than that we felt frazzled by the early morning hour of departure. We must have left at 5:30 or 5:45am if i recall correctly. We made it to the airport, and then we got on the plane, after whatever routine one must go through at the airport. After boarding, we discovered that there was something wrong with the aircraft. I don't remember what it was, but it resulted in us sitting there for a long, long time. If I am not mistaken, we departed nearly three hours late. So, of course, the next question was, "How are we possibly going to make our connecting flight from Tokyo?!" There was a layover of about three hours, but it seemed iffy, at best, that we would be able to make our way to the next flight. So there was anxiety, for sure.

During the flight, there was pretty much no information about whether or not we would make the connection, but the flight attendants alluded to the fact that it was not looking promising. When we got to Tokyo, there was still no knowledge as to whether we could make our flight. We ran through the terminal, which I seem to recall was like half mile to get from where we were to where we needed to be. And then, much to our dismay, we had to go through a type of customs line, and it was a long, long line. We are trying to communicate to people that we are late for a flight, and others are in the same boat as us. We are all confused, and we all speak about half a dozen different languages. After much chaos, some Japanese airport staff come running through the terminal yelling for people who are flying on the ANA flight to Seattle. And everyone who is on that flight is being segregated and identified to gradually hurry them through. They're holding the plane for us. I guess there was a significant enough number of passengers going through to Seattle that they did hold the plane. But, boy, it was stressful.

The last leg, inside a Boeing 777, completing the last of my "I can't wait to someday fly on this aircraft" experiences. It wasn't that exciting. It's a long, long flight. As we approach Seattle, finally, we are descending, and then it becomes evident that we have made a 180 degree right turn, which would be normal for coming into SeaTac from the north. What we didn't expect, though, was a few minutes later, when we make another 90 degree turn. And another 90 degree turn. And another 90 degree turn. We are going around in circles. For about a half hour. When it gets to about an hour, the pilot comes on and says that there is a fog situation at the airfield and conditions are not acceptable for landing. If the fog doesn't clear soon, we will need to divert to Portland because we are running out of fuel. And, of course, this is exactly what happens. We go to Portland. Land. Refuel. And 2-3 hours after our intended arrival time, we finally are back in Seattle.

A long, long trip.

Much adventure.

Epilogue to come.

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