As I mentioned yesterday, we’re in Phuket at the moment. Despite the rocky start with the luggage, it’s bliss here.
To back-track, we left London just after 8pm on Monday evening. We’d checked out of our hotel much earlier that day, so were wearing and carrying clothes that could deal with the drizzle of an 8 degree London day. Miss Paranoia that I am, I’d left out a beach dress to pack into my carry on, but hubby had packed it with everything else. I do, however, always have at least a spare pair of undies stuffed into my carry-on back-pack. As it turns out, it was fortunate they were still there.
I don’t sleep on flights and these last two were particularly uncomfortable. As a result, by the time we landed in Phuket, I estimated it had been around 30 hours since I’d last slept. Plus, I hadn’t eaten properly since London and was hangry. I was in no frame of mind to be told that none of our bags had made it onto the plane. By the looks of the list the poor girl had, none of those who’d transferred at Heathrow had made the connection to Phuket.
I didn’t handle it very well. Actually, I’ll correct myself. I handled it ok until my questions of what happens now? were repeatedly met with ‘I don’t know why your bags were left behind Madam.’ Then I lost it. Badly. I didn’t care how it happened, I wanted to know how we fixed it. I was handed a pre-printed letter from Etihad customer service with a reference number and told to call for more information.
This, of course, meant that we were in a tropical country dressed for London with no hope of getting our luggage until the following nights flight.
On the way to the hotel I gave myself a talking to and decided to treat it all as an adventure. After all, I needed new beach dresses. They’d find our bags, and we’d have one night and day of discomfort. That’s all. It would have been worse if it had happened at the start of the holiday and our bags had to chase us around the country. In a weird way, we’d got lucky. I reminded us all of that.
Because it was Phuket and not London, even though we arrived at around 8pm, we could still duck out to any of the many little shops and buy dresses, flip flops and beer singlets for sleeping. We were able to get the basic toiletries. Because it was Phuket and not London it cost us a fraction of the price. As I said, lucky, really…
I bought a bikini for the first time since I was about 10. It cost me a whole $7. As my friend Debbish reminded me, wearing a bikini on a tropical beach had been a bucket list item that I lent to Emily- my heroine in Baby, It’s You. Although, as I reminded her, I’d crossed it off when I realised the world wasn’t ready for that particular view of my tummy!
Sarah and I left that little shop with our London boots and clothes in a bag, beach dresses on, bikinis in a bag, and fake Havaianas on our feet. Poor Grant, at 6ft tall wasn’t so fortunate with his purchases.
The next morning I got a call advising our bags had been located, would be on the next flight and with us by 10pm. Yay. Sares and I hit the beach. Grant, spent the day in air conditioning trying to stay cool.
I lost my cool at around midnight when there was still no sign of the promised bag, and no help from the Etihad local helpline I’d been calling.
At 11pm: ‘I’m sorry Madam, you must understand we have lots to deliver. They’ll be there soon.’
At midnight: ‘I’m sorry Madam, there’s traffic.’ Really?
‘Can you track the driver?’
‘I’m sorry Madam, you must understand Kamala is a long way away from Patong. They’ll be there soon.’
The tuk tuk driver did it in 20 minutes at peak time… That was when I lost it again in a real red mist over the eyes completely totally cold way. ‘I’ll ask again, can you track the driver? Do we even know if he’s still driving or if he’s gone home to bed?’
‘I’m sorry Madam, you must understand…’
At that point the only thing I was capable of understanding was that the bags had spent longer in transit than they had in flight- and Phuket is a very small island.
What time did we get them? Just before 3am.
I’m a fairly seasoned traveller, and have had bags go missing before- every traveller does at some point. Yet I reacted badly to this, twice. To my shame. I think probably because I really was so very tired, but also because the on-ground help did not manage my expectations. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear, tell me what’s going to happen. I think if I’d been told it would be between 2 and 3am I could have gone to bed knowing that. I still wouldn’t be any closer to understanding why it took over 7 hours to take a bag 30 minutes down the road, but I might have been a tad less sleep deprived.
Anyways, it’s all done with now. It’s like paradise here, I have my favourite havaianas back, I don’t have to go and buy replacement Christmas presents for the ones in the bag, and I can finally cross wear a bikini on a tropical island off my bucket list. For good. Besides, the whole episode could make it into a scene one day.