Monday, November 16, 2015

Thailand: In Which Our Passports Travel to Singapore Without Us

We were all thankful to get several hours of sleep in Bangkok. The girls have been so excited to share a bed! I had forgotten how hard beds in Asia are, but I was so tired it didn't matter a bit. 

A "western style" breakfast was provided by the hotel. I'm not sure why anyone would travel here to be served airy white bread, Smucker's jam, a hot dog, eggs, and fake orange juice for breakfast, but we were thankful nonetheless. We had a little time before needing to leave for the airport again, so we took a little walk beyond our hotel. 

All kinds of things grow here! 

The kids were excited to find this rhinoceros beetle! And geckos never fail to bring squeals of excitement! And, Bangkok is hot!

We loaded up our bags and squashed into a taxi for the (supposedly) hour long drive across Bangkok to the older airport, where we were to catch a flight to Chiang Mai. We should have left earlier, as traffic was quite bad and we ended up arriving only about 45 minutes before our flight was to depart. Thankfully, as we were about to get in the very long queue to check in, I saw a woman holding a sign with our flight number on it and she ushered us over to be checked in. We had no time to spare, and after going through security, we sprinted through the length of the airport to our gate, which of course was the very last one! We got there right as the plane was supposed to be departing, but to our pleasant surprise they were still boarding and we were in time! 

This is the look of gratitude and relief that we made it onto our flight! 

There is a trick to getting four kids off an airplane. One parent assertively plants themself in the aisle to prevent anyone behind from passing while the other quickly shoos the children into the aisle, making sure they each have their backpack, and telling them to "go, go!" At times we just sit and wait until everyone else deplanes so that we can take our time, but for some reason, this time, we hurried everyone off the plane. After gathering up our checked bags, we exited the luggage area and were about to leave the airport when I realized the small bag I keep our passports in was not over my shoulder. I realized that in my haste to get everyone off the plane and make sure they had gathered up their belonging, I must have left my own bag under the seat. I quickly found the airline office and told them what had happened. They went and checked the plane and didn't find it. My heart sank, thinking of the difficulty in replacing six passports while in a foreign country. At the time I didn't think of it, but the bag also contained credit cards and my camera. The airline said they would go look again, and had me sit down in their office to wait. A while later someone returned saying they had found the bag, but the plane was already headed back to Bangkok! I was greatly relieved, and filled out a form so they could contact me when they received the bag.

The place where we were to stay said they would send out a van for us, so we decided to get something to eat in the airport. After that we waited outside until finally the van arrived. By this time the sun had set and we were so very tired. I fell asleep on the drive, which took nearly an hour. At last we arrived at our lovely accommodation, a beautiful "garden resort" outside of Chiang Mai. I had chosen a place that looked relaxing and out of the way so we could have a few days to rest and be together after our long travel days. (I knew if we were in the city I would want to go out exploring!)

We walked to the restaurant for some dinner, and a while later, we received this email:

Regarding to passenger left a small bag with 06 USA passports on arrival flight FD3445/14NOV15, we are regret to inform you that your item have not been found on arrival flight. However, the aircraft went to Bangkok FD3446/14NOV15 and staff not found your item on aircraft also. we are so apologize for this problem and now we contact with staff at Bangkok again to found your bag again and again, if we get the answer from staff at Bangkok we will contact by this e-mail again. If you would like to contact us, please feel free to call Hotline:081-1710693..

At this point I realized what else I had in the bag and that I'd better call the credit card companies and let them know. I was so exhausted by this point, nodding off and jerking my head up while waiting on hold! There had been no transactions on the card, so that gave me hope that perhaps the bag hadn't been stolen after all. It seemed so strange that the airline would say they had it and then say they did! t was googling what to do about lost passports and imagining all the hoops that would have to be jumped through if we had to replace them. Just about this time I received another email: 

I am so apologize for interrupt you for night time, now we will update for your item, staff air asia at singapore found your item at aircraft and will forward to Bangkok maybe tomorrow and will forward your item to Chiang mai again.  If Bangkok confirm flight for send your item to Chiang Mai and Chiang Mai staff receive your item.  we will confirm with this e-mail again.  Thank you so much.

As you can imagine, I was so thankful to hear this, but still didn't know if the contents of the bag would be there still. The next morning they let us know the bag had arrived back in Chiang Mai, so Erik took a taxi to the airport and collected it. We were so relieved and grateful that everything was still there! 

So mamas, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others! Or, gather up your own belongings, all of them, before helping your children! 

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