They say that a journey of a million miles starts with a single step, so a step I took on to the great unknown. Armed with a bag full of toiletries, winter garb and surplus Lindt chocolates I headed to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport to catch the first leg of what was to be the most epic trip of my life so far.
Yet before I could ride off to the sunset and achieve Nirvana by way of Beijing I must first dispose of my 62 kilo excess baggage I call my sister. I promised my Mom that I would safely deposit her to the PR 119 Toronto- MNL flight as close as the law would possibly allow. But as plot twists are likely to unfold at the most inopportune moment, I got my ass royally kicked when I saw the chaotic refugee camp that was the Terminal 2 of the Lester B. Pearson Airport. Mr. PAL Ticket Agent tried to break the news as gently as he could, there won’t be any available seats for tonight’s flight or for the entire week for that matter so rather than admit defeat and loiter among those denied boarding from both PAL and Turkish Airlines we decided to pull up our boot straps and fly to Vancouver in hopes of better chances to board a flight.
Big mistake. Vancouver was a montage of sub par fast food at the airport, cold aluminium chairs, and many sleepless nights while hoping to board a flight until the very last minute. And when you’ve invested so much time waiting on the sidelines of an airline counter, hearing the words negative seats available sends a shooting pain down your abdomen, the very same you had as the time you got dumped. But it wasn’t all that bad, while waiting in the queue I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow standby passenger who had a colourful story to share, about him and his family missing the same PR119 flight in YYZ for 2 straight weeks and their final last ditch effort was to catch a Business Class flight in Vancouver instead. While waiting we even witnessed a snotty lady try to get ahead of the line by waving her “confirmed” tickets at the exasperated counter attendant who eventually sent her to the back of the queue where good abiding citizens should be at the first place. Eventually, my nice new friend and his family finally got to their wide reclining seats yet there was no room in the Proletariat Class for my sister, as a form of poetic justice though, snotty lady didn’t get her entire party of 8 people in the plane, because money doesn’t buy class nor privilege if you don’t at least act the part.
After that, more planes came and took off without us, I then lost my wallet– chalking this horrid mistake up as collateral damage — we took the Vancouver Skytrain downtown and hoped to get a decent place to spend the night. Getting off at the Waterfront Station past curfew hours we walked around the beautifully lit cobblestone streets and avoided the alleys littered with stoners sporting pink hair, as we reached Vancouver’s Chinatown it presented quite a beautiful irony on how the freaking crap we weren’t even supposed to be at that city in the first place, thankfully a taxi broke us out of this reverie before a rampaging recreational drug user in a camouflage jacket could ask us for spare change.
Upon checking in at the only decent 3 star hotel within the vicinity it was our pleasure and honour to spend the night in a peculiarly scented 15 sqm room. It became our Headquarters where we planned our options, and not out of submission- but rather to refuel at our pit stop, we decided it was best to go back to MTL and wait for 3 days before attempting to fly out again, this time with intent to land point square at HKG. All this was done with Free Breakfast conspicuously missing from the booking price yet it includes olfactory delight as the previous room guest was probably an equine fetishist who sprayed Eau de Manure over the carpet.
I may be sweet lemoning my brief stay in Vancouver but I really did love that city and I would come back again armed with more time and a solid plan to take over all the obscure sushi shops it has. A toute a l’heure YVR city vaguely reminiscent of San Francisco, it was awesome but I was also happy to get on a MTL bound flight to run a few errands and retrieve the few essential things I forgot to pack like my thick coke bottle bottom eye-glasses.
Finally on the plane as the Patchouli- scented hippie lady next to me was laughing at some comedy movie over the duration of our 5 hour flight, I cried over Les Miserables, my missing wallet, my scraped Beijing plans and of exhaustion but just when you thought the day was over the plot thickens again and even if it adds trouble, with chutzpah and luck you’d come out of it better than anticipated. This Vancouver kink was just the prologue of the epic- yes epic! adventure that spanned 6 sleepless weeks filled with adventure, inappropriate jokes and acute cardiac palpitations.