14+3+3=20 hours

My baby is a traveling champ! Even the guy sitting next to me from LA to Taipei (14 hours) said so.

We boarded the plane at LAX around 3 pm Saturday after gorging ourselves on Mexican food at the airport (nothing tastes even remotely like Mexican food in SE Asia…)

I was loaded down: all the bits and bobs that couldn’t fit in my 100 pounds of check-in luggage were in my rolling carry-on, Christian was on my back, my backpack was on my front, and I carried Christian’s doll, Sterling (I need Sterling, Mama! says he) and our tickets in my hands. Mental note: shear at least half of that for the return flight.

But, we had ample time to mosey about before boarding, and Christian was thrilled to pieces that we were getting on a REAL LIVE AIRPLANE. He was beside himself actually, and that made him pretty easy to load up. The whole first hour was relatively easy.

Then I checked the flight info and realized I still had thirteen hours to go.
Two more hours later, I’d gone through most of my snacks (goldfish, gum, and animal crackers) and most of my surprise treats (matchbox excavator, autoblox car, and mushy bounce ball with tentacles to pull) and Christian was showing no signs of slowing down. He was up, he was down, he was in the seat next to me, we went to the bathroom at least 6 times (he peed each time), and I was running out of stuff to do with him. I’d even resorted to letting him watch the screen of the kid in front of us who never seemed to tire of SpongeBob SquarePants.

ELEVEN MORE HOURS. My back already hurt! I was wondering if it had been a bad idea to plan a trip to Asia with a 2-year old by myself. Last year, I’d been with Bella and my brother, so I’d at least had somebody to mind the baby when I needed to pee myself.

Then I got smart and stopped watching the clock. Counting the hours had really driven me to the brink of panic. Christian fell asleep briefly and I watched most of Leap Year (a rom com that never really lifts off) and had dinner (five-spice pork with rice). That respite gave me hope. By the time he’d woken up, I was feeling like – heck yeah, if I can do THIS, I can do anything!

We were in the two center seats in the center aisle (I had only purchased one ticket, but the steward had blocked the seat next to me to give me more space.) The two guys at either end of me were exceptionally nice. The older man to my left was Asian and slept most of the flight. I’m pretty sure he just turned off his hearing aid on the ear facing me, but he was very decent about getting up every other pee run (I alternated between disturbing my two neighbors) and climbed on top of the seats in order to pull my suitcase down from the overhead storage compartment at the end of the flight. He even insisted on wheeling it off the airplane for me.

The other guy was an IT guy from Boston going to Taipei for a three-day (24-hour flight for a three-day trip!!!) business trip. He loaned us his new iPad to read a beautifully illustrated Winnie-the-Pooh and fed Christian yogurt-covered almonds. Enough said.

So we just kept plugging away at entertaining ourselves. We sang songs, told stories, and doodled a bit on bits of cardboard and magazine pages. Then Christian feel well and truly asleep. Woo-hoo!

Instead of sleeping myself, I took the opportunity to knit a bit and to watch Invictus (great movie about Nelson Mandela) and a complicated Italian romance that involved no less than six couples, called My Ex (also good). The next time I checked, we only had four plus hours to Taipei, less than flying to the east coast, and a time frame that didn’t flip my mind.

Christian woke up, but was pretty relaxed. I broke open some more snacks (slim jims and pretzels) and toys (matchbox helicopter).

We landed in Taipei and went through the whole rigomarole of disembarking, catching shuttle trains to different terminals, passing through security again, and then waiting for nearly three hours before reboarding. Luckily, the gate was in a spacious downstairs room by itself – meaning, Christian could pretty much roam safely with his mini-skateboards and matchbox cars. I struck up a conversation with a woman who not only had a teenage son taking AP tests this week, but also had several rental houses in Yucca Valley and Twenty-nine Palms. We had plenty to talk about and the time passed quickly.

Christian fell asleep nursing as the plane took off. All I can say is Hallelujah. It felt miraculous. The stewardesses had found me three empty seats in a row at the back of the plane, so Christian was sleeping fully outstretched and I ate my sweet and sour fish in peace and read the first half of the new Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead in the Family. It was an enjoyable three hours.

I was very appreciative of the fact that Christian was still nursing. It totally saved my butt. Besides sleeping through all three meals (with three different sleeps) and needing more than carb snacks to be nourished, Christian was just plain comforted through the whole noisy and intense experience by nursing off and on, especially during take-offs.

I arrived in Bangkok somewhere around 1 am Monday morning and my brother-in-law met us and brought us home via taxi.

The flight ended up being very manageable and now we’re quietly jetlagged and spacey here in the comfort of my sister’s lovely home. I’ll post pics when I find a cord to hook my camera up to the computer.

Whew – very glad to be here and not to have to do that flight again for another six weeks. Impressed too, that Christian only had one miss during that entire trip from our house to Sue’s house. He peed a total of ten times in public restrooms! One poop too!

P.S. Never even ended up giving Christian the emergency lollipop I’d packed – nor did I use the grow-your-own-animals sponge pills.

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