When a journey is too easy, it feels pleasant and safe but surely not epic. Janelle and I did not have this issue.
On Sunday we woke up with stretches and yawns. It was post-FCC rooftop night, post-moto accident, and neither of us had slept well. (Janelle’s foot was banged up and, well, I kept thinking I was hearing Khmer Rouge ghosts turning our bathroom tap on and off.) So we decided to stay in. Our flight was at 4:50pm, which gave us plenty of time to lounge by the pool, enjoy breakfast and books, maybe stop off for a fresh juice on the way to the airport, and check in by 2pm. We wanted to get to the airport early. A lot was riding on our flight out of Phnom Penh. We had a connection in Vietnam, and then I had to get on a plane back to the US the next morning.
Around 11:30am, I looked up from my poolside breakfast of chicken fried rice and pineapple juice and walked to the communal computer on the patio to check our flight status. The skies above shone bright as ever, but who knew? Best to be prepared. I clicked through to our itinerary in an old email, and then pasted the flight number into Flight Tracker.
Nothin’ came up for 4:50pm.
Instead our flight number was leaving at 12:40. In just over an hour.
I walked straight to the hotel room and knocked.
– I don’t want to panic you, but I think you should come look at this…
She hobbled to the computer on her one good foot. Yes, our flight was at 12:40. Fuck. Janelle immediately said we wouldn’t make it. Out of stupidity or willful ignorance, I said we had to try. Somehow the following occurred in the space of 10 minutes:
1) I asked the hotel desk for our bill. Their credit card machine was down, could I pay cash?
2) I sprinted two blocks to an ATM ignoring shouts from taxi drivers and weird looks from everyone else.
3) Janelle packed all of her things and brought them to the main desk. With one good foot.
4) The hotel prepped our bill and called us a car to the airport.
We told our driver we were in a hurry so he wove through traffic and even ignored a couple red lights for good measure. We got to the terminal at 12pm, sweaty and flushed, and pulled out our passports. Delays in line, delays in line… the kind of waiting that inserts fidgets into every bone. Janelle guzzled a liter of water out of sheer nerves. Finally — As our boarding passes printed from the Vietnam airlines machine, I thought they might evaporate as quickly as they were born. But they didn’t. Miracle of miracles. One last glitch: stop and pay $25 each to leave the country. Exit tax. Please, yes, let us exit, I will give you anything you want…
Through security, to the gate, and by the time we got seated in the last row of the plane, the tension dropped so drastically that we busted into astonished giggles.
At takeoff I watched through the little window from my aisle seat and felt my ribcage expand into one full breath.