I do not like booking flights in advance. Once it’s done it seems like the last nail in a coffin of my travel planning. What if I changed my mind? What if I want to go somewhere else? The bottom line is that I am afraid of the final commitment. This time though my hesitation to push “buy” button resulted in one of the best flight experiences.
Korean Air was the winner of my online research. It came on top as the cheapest option with just one stop and decent flight time of 19 hours. The only down side was that the flight would land in Chiang Mai at 10:40PM. I was not thrilled about arriving to the city I never been before almost at midnight. But the price was so good… Decisions, decisions… Finally, gods of plane tickets gave me a break. All Korean Air tickets had been sold out. Hence, Cathay Pacific came into the picture. It was the only one choice where the arrival time was during day hours. However, there were 2 stops: in Vancouver and Hong Kong. The convenience of the arrival time prevailed, and I booked Cathay Pacific flight.
The best $400 we ever spent: upgrading to premium economy seats on the flight between Vancouver and Hong Kong. We got more legroom space and slightly wider seats. For 14 hours flight it made a huge difference. Comfortable seats, tasty dinner and breakfast, attentive and cheerful flight attendants, clean and well stocked bathrooms (trust me, it does matter on a long flight) – what else do you need to enjoy your journey?
The first leg of our trip, between Seattle and Vancouver, lasted just 40 minutes. The small plain was mostly empty due to delays of some connecting flights.
We arrived in Vancouver just minutes before 8PM. The airport was practically empty on Saturday night. With more than 5 hours to spare it was tempting to visit the city, but it was dark and cold outside, so we opted for a light snack instead. At least, it was the idea. Since I was not particularly hungry, I ordered a dessert. Well, I ate the biggest chocolate cookie in my life. True, it was delicious, but the amount of calories would give a heart attack to any nutritionist.
With no passengers around, Vancouver airport looked expansive and airy with enough room to house a real stream sans salmon and an aquarium full of exotic fish.
The second leg, Vancouver to Hong Kong, was the longest one and lasted about 14 hours. As I mentioned earlier, it was the great experience. Between sleeping, reading, eating excellent oriental dinner and breakfast, and watching 2 movies time went by fairly quickly.
We landed in Hong Kong early in the morning facing 7 hours layover before the next flight. This time we could not resist the opportunity to explore the city. A very polite customs officer issued us visitor’s visas in no time, and we were free to roam around.
We did not have any particular plans about what we wanted to see. It was our first time in Hong Kong, so we just took the train from the airport to the city and simply walked about for hours.
The third leg, Hong Kong to Chiang Mai, started with a very long bus ride from the terminal to the plane. We had a chance to admire the size of the airport, but somewhere in the middle of the ride notorious “are we there yet?” was hanging in the air. 3 hour flight was as uneventful as the end of any journey could be: AT slept and I restlessly counted minutes left until landing.
Finally, we arrived in Chiang Mai. Goodbye sweaters and coats, hello shorts and sandals!