Because I was battling my crapass battery, I left out all the golden highlights that made the experience truly worthwhile. The lucky Firefly crowd seriously bonded during our “time of crisis”—we were the modern version of…The Grapes of Wrath family—French, American, Chinese and all. When the last few were able to clear customs immigration and step on our bus an hour after everyone else, we cheered. During that one-hour bus ride from the rugged outskirts to Kuala Lumpur’s city center (well, airport), I felt at peace for the first time since the riots in Bangkok broke out. My mom compared us to refugees fleeing political turmoil from one country and seeking refuge at another, for added dramatic storytelling I guess.
While we were all sitting on the ground waiting for our plane ride, one woman asked a long blonde-haired boy what his job was. His response was, “I’m getting a doctorial research position at Carnegie Mellon in December—I just graduated from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D in May and I’ve been traveling all over the world since then.” Of course, my eyes widened and I immediately felt this odd connection with a total stranger and exclaimed, “Wait, you went to Cal? I go to Cal!” We both had incredulous looks of amazement then. How two Cal students manage to be stuck in a place like Phuket at the same time in the same airport on the same tiny emergency plane is beyond my comprehension.
When we were all getting off the plane, my mom asked where we were (no, really, it was that deserted). A lady responded, “Think of this place as Oakland and the city [Kuala Lumpur] as San Francisco.” This lady had no relation with the other Cal student, but her brother(?) said “hella” on the bus later on—and once again, I smiled. I was no longer deciphering broken Thai English—sawadika to you too, wait what?—I was holla back-ing the hella. One guy took down my name so he could add me to the to-be Facebook group, “Fans of Firefly” or “Thailand Aiint Got Nothin’ on Me—I Escaped in November 2008”.
My flight isn’t until 2:20pm. I have another 5+ hours to go, then a 4 hour plane ride, then another 5 hour wait at the Taoyuan (Taipei) airport, then the 10 hour plane ride back to San Francisco. 24 hours from now, my dad can finally stop freaking out.
Before I confront school, you know…reality, I’m going to sign off line and experience the “World’s Best Airport” (it’s their slogan) and find the world’s best breakfast because I am. Starving.