Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Travelogue: Day 0.5 On the flight

We tried hard to convince our friend to use a wheelchair but he declined; if anyone from your group is on a wheelchair, the group would get automatic priority everywhere!
The airlines had rules about dimensions, weight of the cabin baggage and fluids that could be carried but they never checked it. 

Immigration counter was a breeze - they quizzed us on our return date and destination. After immigration check was the security check where cabin baggage is screened. On the way was the Matrix company stall - they were selling SIM cards that can be used internationally. Handy to have but pretty expensive - local SIMs are cheaper.

We had an hour to go for boarding. Quite a combination we were - one friend with twisted ankle, one had picked up a slight cold and one was feeling feverish with throat pain. One of the best medicines to overcome cold is alcohol; and we had an expert in our midst (from this point on, those of you who know the 4 people might try to identify which person is doing what - but just remember that appearances can deceive!)

So the expert picked a couple of tiny bottles in the duty free - foreign alcohol is cheap in the airport. For those of you not into liquor, do stroll around the duty free shop - you’ll find some fascinating bottles in unique shapes and sizes. The expert was tempted to drink it on the spot but there was a notice which said that we can’t have liquor in Indian soil. The intellectuals in our group tried to decipher the size of the bottle - the label said “5cl"; none of us knew what it meant but Google did; cl = centiliter; 1 cl = 10 ml. So we had two 50ml bottles.

The flight had capacity for about 150 people and it was fairly full. The smart looking air host welcomed us saying “Swadee Khrab.” I asked him to slow down to pick up the syllables. That’s the Thai phrase for welcoming or wishing someone. As the flight took off we could see Chennai in lights below - it looked like a mine with plenty of gold deposits shining. The minute we were technically off Indian soil, our expert emptied the tiny bottles!

Thai letters are interesting to learn - especially since we don’t have exact equivalents in the English language. The use of vowels is just like Hindi. I did learn a few letters in the airport and tried to apply my knowledge in reading the emergency instruction card! An airplane is quite an engineering marvel. Sometime before our travel, we discussed a very relevant topic - what if the flight crashed; how would we survive? One friend told us that based on the documentaries he had seen, the safest place in a plane is at the back - the place where the blackbox (flight data recorder) resides. But the 4 of us were pretty much in the middle of the  flight since we didn’t opt for seat selection. AirAsia is a budget airline; so if you want to pick a seat beforehand then you have to pay extra. Even if you want to drink water, you have to buy it on the plane. There is no music or entertainment system.

Though we started late (close to midnight), the flight reached within time - a 3.5 hour journey. For our sprained ankle friend, this was his first time outside Indian soil.

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