I have never traveled by plane before – not even locally. So, when a gift from relatives abroad dropped from heaven, I grabbed the opportunity and accepted the invitation. Thank you to Mr & Ms. Mike Potter, Mr & Ms. Mike BUdzinak, Mr & Ms. Arvin and Kerry Jane, Mr & Ms. David and Marilyn for everything.
This post is also written to express my gratitude to these wonderful people, who welcomed me warmly, while I was in the States.
Previously, I have never seen the interior of a plane in real life. Yes, I have seen them in movies, but that was it. So, these roaring monsters fascinated me.
I knew the experience would be a memorable one and there would be lots of “firsts” for me. Hence, this post is primarily about my short tour in the U.S. I don’t want to mislead you that this is entirely about BTS.
You may be thinking, I included the boys for clout, but I have to disappoint you because when I went into the rabbit hole, my days are now showered with the 7 unicorns’ blessings; their videos, songs, tweets and everything about them help me overcome my daily problems. So, it’s only natural that they have also become a part of my writings.
Hence, I’m including them because, they should be included, they’re now part of my daily life.
On the other hand, I’m a relatively new ARMY and am always on the lookout for anything BTS. Thus, this post is also about how I encountered them during this tour.
At my age, I find consolation and inspiration from their songs. From the time my grandkid introduced me to them almost a year ago, up to this time; I still listen daily to their songs and adventures – on replay. I can’t seem to get enough of what these incredible boys offer.
I have stopped listening to other bands, and now, I guess I can call myself an avid fan of these legendary septets, who have taken the world by storm.
Let’s get back to the main story; so, my family drove me to our local airport and with happy hugs and goodbyes we parted ways.
As soon as I entered the airport, I asked the security guard what I should do first. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Well, I know how to read, so I won’t get lost, I chided myself.
The airport was decked with empty chairs, as it was the wee hours of dawn. However, the few people there were apparently busy as their long-drawn faces stopped me from asking any question.
I have researched earlier online about what to do, but I didn’t know where the counters were located. So, I decided it was easier for me to ask, rather than to look for them.
I successfully passed through the security check and entered the airport’s main lobby. My son came back because he was worried, as I had a heavy backpack with me. He requested an airport staff to assist me because he couldn’t enter the area.
With the help of the staff, I was able to check in with the airlines, and pay my travel tax, those were the first things that I did, and they had different counters for that. I have to remember that now.
I felt like I was Mr Bean, so dumb and ignorant.
I thought everything was paid for, and I gladly entered the gate going to the boarding area. However, I was stopped at the entrance because the guard declared that I have to pay another fee (600) to enter the 2nd security check.
I had researched what fees were to be paid at the airport, but I didn’t know that there was another one that ought to be paid.
I panicked as I had just enough for what I have already paid. I’ve given my peso bills to my grandkids the other day. I only have 500 in my wallet. Hence, I was short of 100.
I tried calling my son, but my cell phone couldn’t connect. I was informed by the security guard that the signal inside the airport was intermittent.
I was in a panic by then. I had difficulty breathing and my hands were sweaty and shaking. I went out of the airport, so I could call my son, who may be still in the parking lot, but I still couldn’t connect.
Anxious, I went back to the entrance and was told by the guard that I had to go through the security check once again.
“I already had my belongings checked,” I reasoned out, flabbergasted.
“No, Ma’am. You went outside, so you have to pass through security check again.”
OMG! My hands were shaking when I placed my bag in the counter, angry and tired. I was at a loss on how to remedy the cash.
Oh, wait, I can withdraw from an ATM machine. I remembered; I had my ATM card with me.
As soon as I entered anew, I searched frantically for an ATM, but couldn’t find one. I was in a panic as I might be late for my flight. But the clock said I still have an hour to go.
Thus, I went back to the counter and ask the staff if I could pay in dollars.
“I’m sorry, you can’t,” was the curt reply.
I went through my carry-on bag one more time, searching in its pockets, if I have somehow kept some cash inside.
Suddenly, I remembered putting in one of the pockets of the backpack a few bills just the other day. With my heart racing, I quickly unzipped the backpack and prayed so hard that the money was there.
To my relief, I found 300 pesos haphazardly tucked in one of the backpack’s pockets.
Whew! I heaved a sigh of relief, so grateful that I can finally proceed to the area. I queued to pay. I don’t know how to describe what I felt at that moment; perhaps, relief and gratitude. I felt like a deflated balloon ready to collapse.
The first lesson that I have learned from my travel is to ALWAYS have some local money left in your wallet – even if you don’t need to pay anything.
With my heavy backpack I proceeded to another security check. (I didn’t bring along any other luggage, as my aunts instructed me that I could buy everything I need there. There was no need to wait for long hours for a checked-in luggage.)
The line was long and my things kept falling off from my bag. With my clumsiness and the fast-paced activity, I ended up breathless and already exhausted.
I was supposed to travel with an aunt but she had an accident, days before our flight and it was so devastating. Who would ever think that something like that could happen? It was only a few days before our flight, and she had figured in an accident.
I consoled myself that everything happens for a reason, and that she was recuperating well. I was thankful she was alive, because she could have died in the accident.
I wish she was there with me, so we could laugh at ourselves and be there for each other.
But there I was – alone – and not so confident about what to do. What happened to the ‘younger me”, who had vowed to conquer the world?
Old age has, indeed, dimmed my vibrant spirit.
Finally, I was able to go through the 2nd security check and into the waiting area for my flight.
I was glad I had still enough time to regain my balance and composure. I may have foreseen what was coming, as I have requested my son to take me to the airport 3 hours before my flight.
It was an early dawn flight, so there were only a few waiting passengers. It was less than an hour to flight time, when the announcement to board came over the speakers.
I lined up with the other passengers, many of them foreigners, and I noticed a pretty, petite girl staring at my bag. I assumed she was Mexican or from a Spanish speaking country by the language of her group.
I had the BTS bag chain attached to the zipper of my personal bag, and the letters “BTS” was big enough to read from a distance.
Our eyes met, and I smiled at her, and pointed at my BTS chain, and mouthed, “ARMY?”
She smiled radiantly and nodded.
Wow, do you know how I felt at that time?
I felt like I was no longer alone. ARMY has this effect on me.
In front of me were dozens of strangers, but there was someone who felt like family. The feeling was wonderful. I began to relax more and felt less anxious.
We couldn’t talk because there were people between us, so we just contented ourselves in smiling at one another. I felt a certain kinship with her. Perhaps, she was elated that an older woman was an ARMY too.
I noticed that she had a small BTS BT21 Chimmy hanging from her backpack as well.
When we settled into the cramp spaces according to our seat numbers, I was not able to notice where she was seated.
It would have been awesome, had I got the chance to know her.
However, I had high hopes I could see her again later.
Since, it was my first time to board a plane, I was anxious and didn’t know what to expect.
The interior of the plane didn’t impress me. It was narrow, with 3 seats in each column for a number of more or less 50 rows. There were small screens at the upper portion of each column, and every passenger was provided a new earphone, a small blanket and a teeny-weeny pillow.
“Oh, it’s so cramped,” I thought to myself. For a moment I felt claustrophobic.
I seated myself and learned how to buckle my seat belt. Wow!
“You will feel something tugging at your gut, when the plane rises from the ground,” my daughter-in-law had said earlier.
I closed my eyes as the plane was revving up for take-off.
When it finally rose up to the air, I felt the sensation, but it wasn’t as daunting as I had expected.
Luckily, I had a window seat, and the person seated next to me was a Chinese boy, who had willingly helped me in installing the digital gadgets provided by the plane for entertainment.
Really, if I had made a film out of this experience, it would be hilarious.
I looked like Mr Bean, lost and ignorant.
“Where can I plug the earphones?” I asked the kind boy, as I squinted my eyes at the numerous tiny sockets in front of me. I wasn’t able to read the small labels.
“Here, let me help you,” he said in perfect English.
He gladly plugged the earphone for me, and started the small viewing monitor.
When the plane stabilized, I look out from my window seat, and it was so peaceful and calm. The plane seems to be hovering in mid-air – not moving. I watched the sea of white, fluffy clouds down below.
I remembered watching a plane fly by on land, and it was fast and thunderous. However, up here, inside the plane, it was so peaceful and calm. I felt I can stay there for a while and relish the tranquillity of the skies.
It was a 3-hour flight to Shanghai, and it went well with just one turbulent episode.
We arrived at the Pudong International Airport early dawn, and the first thing that I did was to find the ARMY girl that I have encountered earlier.