Revenge of the Smofog

Only a few days after the bone-numbing cold of Harbin, we left for our Chinese New Year holiday.

My epic adventure this year consisted of a trip to Sri Lanka with two others.

Back it up – Sri Lanka? How’d I even think of that?

Well, in September, as my students were studying Asian geography, I was thinking about how far away I could get from Shanghai at CNY and where it would be blazingly warm and sunny since February here puts Seasonal Affective Disorder in its prime. I thought about the Maldives (still on my list, though pricey), Cambodia (next year, I’ve decided), and … Sri Lanka.

I only knew three things about Sri Lanka at the time.

1) When I was little, we used to have a box of tea in a little wooden crate labeled “Ceylon Tea” from Sri Lanka. We kept it in the spice cabinet. I know, I’m a bit of a freak for remembering that.
2) It was featured on The Amazing Race – Sigiriya and Kandy. I had just watched all the back episodes of the show a few months prior. BTW – I could never bring myself to watch the show in the States because all these people got to go on epic adventures, and I just withered away during spring break.
3) It’s hot, and it’s far away from the dismal dreariness of February. (Roughly an 8ish hour flight, depending on how you go. We went through KL, so 6.5 to KL, about 3ish to Colombo).

But those three things got me hooked on the idea, and eventually, it roped in two others to go with me.

The day of departure started out sunny and innocent enough. As the day went on, and as we neared the airport (by the sea), the plot – I mean, the fog, smog, smlog, smofog, smoop, whatever you call it – thickened. When we checked in with Malaysia Air, they said our flight was delayed about twenty minutes. No big deal.

If by twenty minutes, you mean seven hours, you would be correct.

We had dinner in the airport, and while before we could still see the airplanes outside the terminal windows, now they were invisible. The fog, smog, smlog, smoop had moved in, and we could see nothing.

Suddenly, flights were just – sitting there. Our gate changed. No one could tell us what the new one was. Obviously it was delayed … to what time? To where?

A mystery.

So, we dedicated ourselves to walked up and down Terminal 2 – a few times. No gate still. Gates were filled with people going nowhere. Facebook filled up with statuses of fellow teachers who were also trying to leave the airport but found themselves ground, cancelled, or bored out of their gourd, like us.

I read. I drank very over-priced coffee (more overpriced than Starbucks, gasp!). I fiddled with my iPhone, the only electronic device I’d brought with me.

About five hours into it, the gate attendant handed us food vouchers and said the gate had been changed to another one downstairs. We took the vouchers and went to the gate – along with every other person alive in the airport.

The problem was, we were surely going to miss our connecting flight in KL. This also meant our tour was messed up, and that our friend, who had managed to make it out earlier in the day on a different airline, would have to pass her time in Colombo by herself.

The biggest problem, in my mind, was that I had no toiletries and no clothing changes since our bags were checked through to Colombo.

So starts my “this is how I roll on a plane delay” look.

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