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It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I realized I had to book a flight from Hanoi Vietnam to arrive in Chiang Mai Thailand the next morning. It was late and I couldn’t help but think about the cost of this ticket just hours prior to take off. My first instinct was to ask my hotel if they could give me an estimate price for the next flight to Bangkok.
I was slightly hesitant to ask because ever since last night when I gave the lady at the front desk my key to my bike lock she saw my key chain. I have one metal piece my friend Nick gave me that says blessed. The other is a ring my mom gave me that is part of the serenity prayer. The second I handed her the key chain she held it, blushed and smiled at me making a kiddy love sound. I told her the ring is fake and I have no money but she flat out told me she wants my heart not the ring as she put the ring on her finger. I’d be a lier if I said I didn’t sort of like it, I mean who doesn’t want to be desired by a pretty, caring and honest women who owns the beautiful Manh Dung Guesthouse in the heart of Hanoi.
Regardless I asked her for help with a big smile on my face as she quoted me 3,345,000 Vietnamese dong,$150 USD, for a 9pm flight. I was a bit shocked by the price because as she was talking on the phone I was looking at online prices for under $100. Now I had a choice to either risk it and take the price or try my chances at the airport to buy a ticket on site. I decided to just thank her and kept it moving to my other concern… get my bicycle in a bike box asap.
I cycled just north of the Hoàn Kiếm Lake and stopped at a few bike rental places with zero luck. I started to get stressed so I stopped, parked my bike, and walked into a smoothie place to eat. For 40,000 dong ($2USD) I grabbed a banana and spinach smoothie which I crushed in 2 minutes. I took a breath and googled some options to find a bike shop near the shuttle bus station to the airport. I was told most people take a taxi from their hotel for 300k dong but if I just walk to the shuttle bus I can buy a ticket to the airport for 40,000 dong and it takes about 55 minutes. I did find a bike shop that sold me a small bike box for 50,000 dong just two blocks over. Struggling to pedal with this huge box stopping at each light all the locals watched me and smiled.
I dropped the box off at the bus stop and asked the guy when the next bus was. He pointed at the clipboard on the desk. It was a sheet that listed everything in english like the on the hour departure times, prices, and the estimated time of arrival. He did mention that he will charge me two tickets for my bike box. I said “ok, no problem” and sprinted back to the hotel to pack all my belongings to check out.
I drop my bags at the front desk and she walks over to me. “So you are going to leave now” she said in a sad tone. “Maybe you can leave your bike here and come back because I’ll watch it for you” she mumbled. I smiled and looked at her as we both knew that wasn’t an option. She made me feel as I was leaving her alone with our child and never coming back. I only talked to her just a half a dozen times about basic topics but she had a good heart, I could tell. After I said sorry we calculated the total I owed for the 12 days I stayed. She typed in the calculator 4,237,000 as my jaw dropped. After a few minutes of discussion I realized I was paying $16 USD per night not $6. Seems like I miss understood the lady the first night I checked in. I pulled out my Samsung S5 and typed 4,281,600 / 22,300 = $192USD. This is about my budget for a whole months rent gone in 12 days. Lesson learned to always see the prices on paper because I knew this place was too nice to six bucks but I just ran with it.
I got to the airport no problem and bought a ticket after a few minutes of waiting. I was charged $197 USD for the same 9pm flight. This is when I smash a bowl of vegetable noodle as I tried not to regret my decision making hours prior. I landed in Bangkok at about 10:45pm to head upstairs to book my flight to Chiang Mai. The next flight wasn’t until 7:25am for $93 USD the next morning so I had some time to kill.
This is when time starts to slow down as I look around the airport and watch what hundreds of people are doing. I walked step by step watching a man open a bag of food sharing with his family. A guy across the entrance is trying to hit chords on a guitar. I start to see people one by one lay down in the chairs and benches. I figured I could rest near the charging station to plug in my phone with low battery. While looking for an outlet I see a little market so I walk in to grab a bag of chili seaweed and a liter of water. After about a half hour of watching the rest of The American Side I packed up my laptop to find a place to sleep for a few hours.
I laid down next to the bathroom towards the back departure gates. I used my black laptop bag as a pillow and placed my t-shirt over the bag for comfort. I lifted my right leg and put it on the cart with my bike box thinking if somebody touched it I would feel the box move. Nobody bothered me, I never felt threatened and if anything people were interested in what was in the box. When I told them I was treking the world on my bicycle they just supported me. One guy threw his fist in the air and in a casual tone said “right on man, I like it”. I didn’t get much sleep not because of the hard white concrete floor or the cleaning people constantly walking by me. I was actually used to sleeping on a firm surface after sleeping in my car for a few months last year plus living with a Cambodian family made this a piece of cake cake cake. The first small problem was I kept going to the bathroom every hour and on top of that every time I got up it became colder and colder. The concrete turned into a sheet of ice as I tucked in my shirt and stuffed my hands in my armpits. At one point I was curled up like a cheese doodle trying to keep warm as possible. “Just one more hour” I kept thinking. Some people in the word do this every night I can make it through a couple of hours. I eventually woke up at about 4:30am shaking from the air conditioner being cranked too high. After checking in I went down to my gate and grabbed a green tea. I wrapped my hands around it and kept smiling as the warm steam hit my nose. I took one or two sips and just sat down watching captains, flight attendants, and traffic control workers prepare for the first flight out of Bangkok International Airport. I took this opportunity to sleep until 7:15am when my flight started boarding. I slept great this time in a room packed with people so I felt warmer and much more comfortable laying across three chairs. I got on the flight, landed and put my bike back together. I looked at the time… 10:45am. Good morning Chiang Mai!
I will share why I rushed here so quickly in the future. For now just know, similar to my video I quit my job after 8 years of retail, I have big plans in the future. I really enjoyed my 4 months cycling around Cambodia, Laos and Hanoi but this new chapter is all about providing continuous value to anybody willing to look.
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