I sat looking at Chica from across the table and I remembered how we got here, to this exact moment, we were just about to board our flight from London to Dubai on our way to Thailand. This trip was going to be an adventure, full of new experiences, new people to meet and a week of relaxing with my “sister from another mister”. My stomach was full of nerves, excitement and anxiety, but I was ready for this. It was the first time I was doing something “out of the ordinary” in a very long time and it felt great.
How this experience started was a typical night out and a full bank account. Chica and I opened a bank account together, about 10 years ago, our original thought, was a trip to New York City for our 30th birthday (that trip was epic). We never closed the account after our NYC adventure, and continued to let the money trickle in month after month. If I’m honest, I had it marked for the Four Seasons in Bora Bora for our 40th birthday (I may have been slightly optimistic there).
An opportunity came up in December 2018 for Chica and I to attend a ball, I had never been to one and it was my first “real” night out since my anxiety and depression had kicked in. I was going to be in a room full of people that I didn’t know, dressed like a show pony and trying my best to hold conversations with people I had just met. To say I was a little nervous was an understatement. However, I felt fine, in fact I didn’t just feel fine, I felt great, I had Chica by my side and we were ready to paint the town red! I felt like me again.
It was a night like I had never seen before, there were performers, acrobats, music, dancing and laughter. The night was flowing and so was the wine, conversation was easy and everyone had beaming smiles on their faces. On the tables were catalogues for a silent auction, there were trips, memorabilia, and experiences all up for grabs. Chica and I both looked through and there it was staring at us, a trip for two to Thailand. The mischievous look took over our faces as we put in our silent bid and to be honest we thought no more of it. We didn’t think we had a chance, so we hit the floor for another boogie.
Later in the evening, whilst we lost in a haze of “Dancing Queen”, everyone at our table started looking for us, we had won the trip! That was it, Chica and I were off to Thailand, after the screaming and laughter had subsided, the reality hit. We were going over half way across the world to experience elephants, island hopping, Thai cooking school, beaches and so much more and we couldn’t wait.
All I had to do now was tell Champagne Charlie, yes you read the name right. I haven’t been blogging much lately as so much has changed. In fact my whole life virtually has done a 180 degree turn and I am now settled in a relationship that I spent so long chasing, only for it to find me (I will fill you all in properly another time). We got back together about 6 months ago, and it has been the most fun rollercoaster ride I have ever taken. He is different, we are different and everything that I ever wanted I now have. I couldn’t be any happier, my soul mate came back for me and we were both ready to change for our future.
However, to say I was leaving him for a week for a girls trip kind of went down like a lead balloon. I was still getting used to actually having to consult the other person in the relationship before going off and doing something of such magnitude. I was used to being me and doing what I wanted and I was used to him being the same. Now in a fully committed relationship, the idea is to talk to each other, I’m coming to terms with understanding that. It took him a bit of time to come round to the idea and eventually he was the one driving us to the airport, telling me to have a great time and how much he was going miss me.
This is where the story really starts, we were at the airport having our customary glass of holiday prosecco and it was going down nicely. Champagne Charlie had got us to the airport 3 hours before our flight (I hate being late for a flight) and before I knew it, I looked up at the signs and our flight was boarding. How? Where had the time gone? I hadn’t managed to get my book, go through duty free and I hadn’t picked up more things for the flight that I would never use.
We headed down to the gate, no that is a lie, we virtually bounced down to the gate, the customary 15 minute walk that flying from Gatwick usually makes you do. I am hoping it is to reduce the chances of deep view thrombosis before a long flight, and not because they think it is funny as you are about to spend a week somewhere lovely and relaxing. As we were travelling down the escalator to our gate, I felt a strange “sense” behind me. Before I knew it I heard a loud voice and the sensation of having my knees taken out from under me. Thank goodness I had hold of the hand rail because what I had just felt was the “very intoxicated” man standing behind me almost launch his cabin bag down the escalator using the other passengers as a bowling alley. I looked across at Chica, who was on the opposite side and watched her mouth to me “he is plastered”. He had obviously enjoyed his pre-flight breakfast in the bar, and I hope for his sake he made his flight and enjoyed his holiday.
Our first flight was pretty standard, Chica delved into the movies, I snoozed and tried to watch something, simultaneously trying to get my legs up the window, across Chica and wrapped around my neck. In my years of flying, I have become quite apt in the art of “flight seat yoga” (can you blame me? I have a 33 inch inside leg). After 7 hours in the sky we land in Dubai, I was so grateful be able to get out of the seat that had moulded to my backside and actually walk. Chica was not happy as she was half way through a film and needed about another 40 minutes in the sky, she looked at me asking “can the pilot just go around again?”.
We knew that we had a short stop over, so we hit the duty free for some holiday essentials (vodka) and then we did one of the most important things to do in Dubai, hit Starbucks. Walking through to the next gate, with my caramel macchiato (i’m on holiday, calories don’t count in another country) I had no clue what time zone I was or what time it was in the UK, but I knew we were half way to Thailand.
Next flight, and more seat yoga, thankfully this time Chica had changed our seats and we were at the back of the plane. The movies started (I think Chica managed to finish the one from before) and the usual flight programme continued. As we travelled closer to our destination, the plane became quieter and quieter. We were moving across 7 different time zones so I had no idea what time of the day or night we were in and neither did anyone else.
Chica and I started to get a bit fidgety so we decided somewhere over India (possibly) to have a little drinkie, being at the back of the plane, we were right next to the bar! One drink turned into a very lovely deep and meaningful conversation at cruising altitude and 6 drinks later we were ready to get on the ground. I remember asking the air hostess if there was truth in the idea that drinks are stronger in the air? Her response was “for 1 drink on the ground, it is the same as 3 in the air”. If that is the case then we arrived in Thailand pickled not drunk.
We had made it, we had travelled 5,500 miles and we were taking our first steps in Thailand, through passport control. Steps is an exaggeration more like inched our way into Thailand. We were herded like sheep into pens to pass through passport control and to say there was a queue was a bit of an understatement. I was still buzzing from the our “flying night out” whilst Chica was starting to get a bit frustrated with the lack of people at the booths and the snaking queue that wasn’t moving. In fairness, we wanted to start our holiday and had just travelled for 16 hours, so I could understand. However, I came to the conclusion it was “Thai time” so I decided just to go with it. An hour later and we were still in the queue, frustrations were mounting and we were sobering up.
Eventually we made it, I went through first and took one look at the guy behind the desk and thought “oh, your in trouble”. He was shopping for a new car on facebook, rather than getting people through passport control to their awaiting transfers. I knew as soon as Chica saw him, she wouldn’t be able to hold herself. She didn’t, if the scathing look she gave him wasn’t enough, she left there with a very loud “happy shopping on facebook, whilst everyone is waiting in line”. I don’t think he even looked up at her, but continued swiping on his phone.
It didn’t matter, we were here and we were ready to take this on this adventure, all we needed was the bags our transfer and we would be on our way to the resort. Another hour later and we were standing outside the airport desperately trying to find the company that was supposed to be collecting us. Chica took the lead on this one, and I’m so grateful she did, as I was entering exhaustion and hangover mode. A phone call later, and 10 minutes of trying to spell out her surname, we realised that they had the wrong name for the booking and if like magic a driver appeared from no where. Bags were loaded into the back of the car and we were off to our resort and what would soon become the experience of a life time.