45-Hour Trip: Part III

by Khet Mar    /  April 21, 2010  / No comments

Translated by Thar Tet Toe

This is the final part of “45-hour Trip” by Khet Mar. In Part I she writes about her departure from Yangon and in Part II she relates her journey from Yangon to Taipei.

PART III

After the breakfast buffet, I rushed to do something important: send another e-mail to friends waiting for us in the States. Then I took a short tour around the hotel. The early morning air was cool and comfortable. The shops were not yet open and I didn’t know what kind of shops they were because all the signs were in Chinese characters. I couldn’t read a word of them. Taipei is magnificent and clean as a whistle. We went back to the hotel room for a good day’s sleep before our departure in the evening.

We made up for the weariness from the trip aboard the plane by having a lovely nap on the luxurious bed of the hotel room. We all woke up almost simultaneously at one o’clock and rushed into bathroom to prepare for the departure as we’d be picked up soon.

This time the airplane was bigger. We had a TV set attached to each individual seat. The airplane itself, I think because it was bigger, was much more stable in its flight.  My sons were now able to watch whatever TV program they wanted, or play games, leaving us unperturbed.

The flight lasted about thirteen hours from Taipei to Los Angeles where we arrived at around noon local standard time.

Since our flight schedule had been thrown off from the beginning in Burma, we missed our plan in Los Angeles. We had to wait another ten hours to board the plane to our destination: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,. The scorching March sun we felt in Rangoon made us enjoy the mild and marvelous air of Taipei even more. Then in Los Angeles, the weather was delightfully cooler.  The airport was vast and sprawling but we found no place to loll for a rest. And there wasn’t anyone to meet us. We longed for a little refuge after a tiresome flight.

I went straight to the China Airline counter and asked, “Our plane in Rangoon missed scheduled take-ff due to a faulty door, I was informed.  And the China Airline staff arranged a place for us to stay for the ten hours that we had to wait.  Here again in Los Angeles, we have to wait for another ten hours.  Wouldn’t you make arrangement for a hotel room for us?”

My long, assertive question was answered by an elderly-looking China Airline staff with a short, decisive no.

“We lost our time!” I insisted on.

He said he would talk with his superior, and I followed him. They talked to each other for a while in their language, which sounded gibberish to me.

Then he said to me: “No.”

I was a little vexed.  How would we manage the ten hours without a place to lay back. However, my sons were on a frolic trip running here and there, enjoying themselves.

After my failed quest for a hotel room, I had another important thing to do: send another e-mail to people from my program coming to pick us up at the airport.  My husband and younger son stayed on, watching luggage while my elder son and I went on a search for an Internet booth.

I found a place with a sign for the Internet. There were some laptop computers laid on a table, but there wasn’t anyone around. I watched for a while. Three women came. And I followed suit. The computer asked for remuneration. I inserted a fiver. The mail interface did not come up, or, the money inserted either. Yeah! I lost five dollars! I tried again on another computer, pressing  buttons that looked like they might work. Again it asked for money. I inserted another fiver. This time luck was with me. I was happy to see the Gmail page. I wrote that we’d be in Pittsburgh at 6 am the next day. I was quite relieved that the message has been sent. The five-dollar bill that I put in for the second time did not come out too. I concluded that I spent ten dollars in sending a single e-mail: the most expensive e-mail I had sent in my whole life.

As it was an ample ten hours, I tried to find ways to kill the time. We went out of the airport building thinking we would roam about. Wow! The hissing, restless wind was too cold for us to bear. We went back in. We searched for the gate where we would board the plane for Pittsburgh. We were tired and sleepy by the time we reached the gate. After a meal of McDonald fried chicken, I took a nap on the floor while my husband and sons roamed the place.

At 10:35 we boarded the US Airline plane, which was rather small. I worried that the din of the airplane engine would be a big annoyance. As it was late in the evening and their stomachs were full of fried chicken, my sons fell asleep right away. The plan was only half full so many passengers lolled in their seat, having the peaceful rest of a good sleep until the plane reached Pittsburgh.

Our long journey that began on March 9 in the eastern hemisphere now ended at western hemisphere spanning the half of the globe. It was six in the morning when the plane landed in Pittsburgh.

Click here to read Khet Mar’s bio.

About the Author

Khet Mar is a staff writer at Sampsonia Way. A former writer-in-residence at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, Khet Mar is a journalist, novelist, short story writer, poet, and essayist from Burma. She is the author of one novel, Wild Snowy Night, as well as several collections of short stories, essays and poems. Her work has been translated into English and Japanese, been broadcast on radio, and made into a film. In the fall of 2007, Mar was a visiting fellow at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

View all articles by Khet Mar

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