Archive for September 16th, 2012

Right. So, I have to admit: I haven’t started bawling my eyes out yet. That could mean two things.

One: I’m still in shock and everything isn’t real.

Two: It’s not that bad that I should shed that much tears.

To be fair, I did get teary eyed as I walked through those gates and turned back to see the retreating backs of my family, friend, and boyfriend. But that didn’t last long as I had to turn back and face the straight faces of the security customs officer. Whatever I felt in that brief moment was short lived when faced with his solemn face and being asked if I could please remove my laptop from its bag.

The day started out boring enough. After a flurry of activity the night before in trying to pack (alright, so I packed the night before… and forgot a bunch of stuff), I woke up to a sunny Vancouver September day with clear skies. When I finally managed to roll out of bed and jump into the shower before packing some last minute stuff, my dad came back with my travel insurance that I had forgotten about until the night before (midnight exactly). After checking and rechecking everything, we went for an early lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Coquitlam called Rainbow Butterfly for some dim sum that would probably be the last one for me for a while.

Being stuffed full of food, we headed back and I finally loaded my life for the next two or three years in two pieces of luggage into the car. After saying goodbye to my younger sister, we headed off.

It was an amusing enough car ride and the hour or so to the airport flew by. I learned a bit more about my other family in Singapore and was really, really glad and grateful that I ended up with the type of parents that I do. Some of my aunts are INSANE in that, wow I’m glad I’m not your daughter sort of way. Since I immigrated to Canada when I was really young, I wasn’t all that close to any of my cousins and the whole ride has made me feel a bit more grounded.

We reached the airport around 2pm and I went through the check in process fairly quickly as there was no line. Then, my friend and my boyfriend turned up.

I got a really cute handmade going away present from my friend. By cute, I also mean, just a little soul-sucking scary.

She also wrote me a letter that I was supposed to read on the plane. And it was complete with drawings of pictures that I’m going to miss during my time there. Not sure if it was sweet or if she was subconsciously trying to torture me.

I also made a little photo scrapbook for my boyfriend so that he wouldn’t feel so upset with me leaving. He was surprised and a little upset because he didn’t having anything to give me in return. That was utter nonsense since a few days before, he had given me a bracelet.

It was an old, tattered, red and black friendship style bracelet. He got that and a green one when he was travelling around in Thailand from a kid who made it for him. The two were his prized possessions and meant quite a bit to him. When he gave me one, I was almost afraid to take it from him. It felt like the weight of our relationship rested on me not losing this bracelet.

And I lose things all the time.

I have started tugging the knot tighter just in case the thing slipped off my wrist without me realizing it.

But I digress.

Having gotten there early and with about two hours to kill before I had to be at the gate, we sat down at the Starbucks and had some tea and coffee. I was really relieved that everybody got on well and that it wasn’t awkward despite the slight language barrier between my parents and my boyfriend.

But the hour was up pretty quickly and it was in a daze that I half-stumbled and half-shuffled towards the security point. We all said our goodbyes. I gave them all hugs and my boyfriend gave me hugs and kisses. We had a quick little moment and I remember not being able to look him in the eyes because I didn’t want to start crying then and there. That he kissed me in front of my parents was… well a pretty big deal. That they were not completely repulsed by the action… that was also a pretty big deal.

So I guess, in a way, the me leaving did have a pretty amazing outcome.

Then it was through the gates, more hellos and goodbyes to former coworkers working at the duty free stores in the International terminal of YVR, through to the gate and then, there I was. Sitting in a large seat with plenty of leg room in business class, looking out the window of a plane that was ready to take off.

I am definitely going to miss Vancouver. As we took off, we flew over the mountains of British Columbia and as I looked down, the jagged landscape were filled with small, probably unknown, glacial lakes deep in forested wilderness. I got teary eyed again looking over the landscape.

I think the next time I’m around in the summer, I’m going to try and discover one of those small glacial lakes to the north.

My dad surprised me with a one way business class ticket when he exchanged his flight points.

There’s a few things they don’t tell you about flying Business class. Or at least, not to a common pleb like me who mostly fly in economy class.

First of all, you get to choose your food. From an actual menu with choices that didn’t just involve what type of meat you’d like. I got three choices each for an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. There was also a larger wine list that wasn’t the standard “Red” or “White” choices. I as a bit disappointed that I didn’t go full out on the menu since I was still stuffed and getting queasy from lunch and the giant thing of tea from before I got on the plane. I had a fairly light dinner that started with a nice salad, an alright if not a bit dry mushroom and asparagus linguine, and finished it off with a hazelnut cake with fresh chopped up mangoes on the side. They even gave me a pack of yoghurt chocolate that my seatmate would not stop going on about how much I would love them (he even asked for more to take with him).

Second of all, remember those annoying plastic cutlery, cups and plates when you fly? I got food served on actual plates with actual metal utensils. I was so surprised! And just like in a restaurant, every course was served plate by plate. First the appetizer came and once finished, was taken away. There was a bit of a small waiting period for digestion before they bring out the entrees and so on with the dessert. It was an actual delight and I was upset that I wasn’t hungrier. I’d felt it would’ve been a waste of food to just poke at it before giving it back, hardly eaten.

First Class and Business Class was not all that different from each other. The main difference it seems, aside from the larger seat, was the privacy. In first class, you had a seat all to yourself and did not have to converse with the person next to you. In business class, there were two seats next to each other. I was lucky enough that my seatmate was a nice old man that, despite flying in business class, was not pretentious in the least bit. Especially since there was a woman who sat across the row who ordered wine after wine before asking the flight attendant (just about the nicest and most patient German man I’ve met) what wine he’d recommend before boasting about how she had to pour out bottles of wine from France because it wasn’t up to her standards. I was so glad I wasn’t sitting next to her or it would’ve driven me insane.

His name was David and he told me he was a diamond dealer, hence the crazy shiny adornment of diamonds on his ring and watch. He was originally from London but moved to Vancouver when he was younger and have lived there ever since. He was 70 years of age though he looked younger than that and was going back to visit family. All in all, I couldn’t ask to be seated next to a nicer man. I think the age has mellowed him out quite a bit. We spoke briefly about our plans and made other small chit chat and while we didn’t speak much, it wasn’t an uncomfortable silence that we sat in. Compared to most of the other passengers where social interaction seemed stilted and limited, he was absolutely lively despite his age.

Of course, me being the younger one, I helped him a bit with moving things or calling the flight attendants when he needed something and it seemed like he was grateful for that. When the plane landed, we exchanged names and went our separate ways. Him to London, and me, to wait four hours for my next connecting flight.

The wait was uneventful as was the flight to Aberdeen. I sat in the business class cabin which consisted of twelve seats in the front. There were nobody else with me except for a guy dressed in baggy jeans and a hoodie. Having not slept for the 9 1/2 hour journey, I snoozed for the two hour flight over. When we landed, i felt a bit more rested and a bit less sleep deprived.

I got directions to the school to pick up my keys and got into a cab with the coolest cab driver ever. His name was Scot and for the whole ride there, we talked about Canada, mountain biking, outdoor sports, cycling, Whistler, and Americans. He made the whole ordeal of picking up my keys to moving to my new home for the next year incredibly pleasant so I gave him a massive tip on top of it.

But after weeks or procrastinating and stress, I was finally here in Aberdeen, Scotland.


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