Keeping Perspective During an Eight-Hour Layover

Layover

Oh. My. God.

Today has been a reminder of why I LOVE nonstop flights, and why I’ll pay a couple of hundred dollars more for the convenience … especially when it’s an international flight halfway around the world.

Unfortunately, nonstop flights weren’t an option for New York to Bali, and Bali to New York. So I’ve spent eight hours on a layover at the Baiyunport Airport in China, awaiting my return flight to JFK. Eight hours, after landing at 5:30 a.m. in a sleepless daze. In total, I will be traveling more than 30 hours to get back to New York City.

Ugh.

I’m. So. Damn. Tired.

If this were the Hong Kong airport or some other ridiculously large and entertaining airport more reminiscent of a mini-city – with great shops, cafes, perhaps even a hotel where I could nap for a few hours – I’d have no problems staying busy and staying awake.

But sweet lord, it’s been a real challenge staying awake at this airport. There’s nothing to do, with the exception of sitting a Starbucks with extremely spotty Wi-Fi. Even the teeny-tiny McDonald’s at this airport, which only features three chicken items, doesn’t take credit cards. Starbucks is my present-moment Nirvana.

Even so, I’m trying to make the most of this time, and do things I don’t normally do … like read a book. I’m reading one that purchased in Bali: “I am Malala.” It’s about the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for advocating education for all Pakistani girls. It’s reminiscent of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” only this story doesn’t end in her entire family getting murdered. Hers is an inspiring story that lives on through advocacy work and global education to this day, spearheaded by Malala herself.

I’m glad that I’m reading this story now. It’s is a reminder of how lucky I have it, even in this present moment travel annoyance. I’m lucky to even be annoyed.

I am an independent woman who can travel freely, without the escort of a male relative. I am an independent woman who has received an amazing education, without fear of the Taliban revoking this right/privilege from me. I am an independent woman who can dress however she pleases. I am an independent woman who is inspired by the words of a 16-year-old girl – someone who puts my current complaining to shame.

But still: Next time I travel internationally, I’m flying nonstop. I’m sure even Malala would understand, and agree.

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