November 20, 2018
I arrived at the airport about four hours early for my flight today. Coming from Kirtipur and knowing how chaotic Kathmandu is, I anticipated plenty of traffic and confusion along the way, so I figured better safe than sorry. I was happy to be there. Zero stress during what could've easily been a stressful commute. And I had plenty of time when I encountered some unexpected road blocks at the airport.
I'd bought a knife in Thamel that was confiscated. Apparently you can't even bring it through China in a checked bag. The airline was afraid I'd be detained and interrogated by the Chinese government, so they took it and offered to hold it for me for up to a year, but it's up to me to figure out how to get it back to the States. Frustrating that the airline didn't mention that when we landed, but that's just another of those little international travel nuances that you don't know until it's too late. Ah, well. It was only $25, so it coulda been worse.
Then Karma made a come-back. The woman who checked me in at Kunming totally hooked me up! I was assigned a middle seat for both of the next two legs, including the long 11 hour flight to LAX. I had just decided to be grateful that I got an aisle the whole way to Nepal, rather than fret about the middle seats on the way back. She reassigned me to an aisle for both flights and totally made my day. I didn't even ask; she offered. Best travel-related experience this whole trip, I think.
The flights home didn't feel nearly as long as the flights there. It was the same when I returned from my New Zealand trip back in April. At nine hours, the flight to New Zealand had been the longest I'd endured to date. The flight to Shanghai at the start of this trip was nearly fourteen. Having that long flight followed by two more that were 3-4 hours each was brutal. I think that flying the shorter legs first on the return trip helped make the itin feel shorter.
When I felt the aircraft touch down in Los Angeles, it filled me with joy. I was a kid, happier than I'd ever been. I was home. Well, nearly so. They say that home is where the heart is. If that's true, then I'll be home with Mallory this time tomorrow.