It takes a gallon of coffee and a half-baked nap to leave your passport on an airplane in Thailand, a realization that would soon hit me like a ton of bricks. I groaned as I sat down in the plastic seat, using what felt like the rest of my strength to shove my backpack down under the seat in front of me. I was thoroughly wrecked from the grueling thirty-two hours being stuck in the limbo of airports. It took around three hours to drive down to Newark Airport followed by a thirteen-hour flight during which I watched the snowy mountains of Canada turn into the Pacific below. During this whole time, I prayed that some force would knock me out and let me sleep for a couple of hours.
We landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo where my brother off-handedly mentioned to me, right after a bottle of Coca Cola exploded on me, that he lost my airpods. Stranded for four hours, my pants uncomfortably adhered to me as we stared at McDonald’s burgers doused in soy sauce instead of the familiar ketchup and mustard. Then, armed with the positively foul-tasting pickled plum sheets, I boarded the last international flight of four hours to Bangkok, but was distraught to find that I was once again sitting in front of a screeching baby.
I found myself quite shocked that I misplaced my passport despite my extensive experience in flying since infancy and my usual reputation as the most responsible among my siblings.
It was midnight when we landed so we stayed in the airport hotel, and all of us fell asleep instantly. The next morning I found myself kneeling over the toilet, before having to board another flight to Krabi. Possibly due to my unruly stomach or sheer exhaustion, as I settled into my seat on the flight, I absentmindedly placed my passport in the pocket in front of me and quickly dozed off. Unfortunately, I forgot my rule of promptly returning important items to my bag to avoid forgetting them.
I was in good spirits when we landed, having surveyed the mountainous islands that littered the bright blue ocean that Krabi sits on and the trip was starting to feel even more extravagant as one of the hotel workers offered us the sweetest cranberry juice I’d ever had. That was, until, the hotel asked for our passports to keep as a deposit and I realized I didn’t have mine. I felt my stomach drop as my throat closed up, all the possibilities of what would happen next swimming through my head as I voiced my lack of identification. I watched my father’s face drop as my brothers turned to me, ready to fire questions about my negligence. My step-mother and sister, however, got right to work, helping me call the airline and remember my seat number (52B) as I repeated the mantra in my head, “It will be okay, don’t panic.” I found myself quite shocked that I misplaced my passport despite my extensive experience in flying since infancy and my usual reputation as the most responsible among my siblings. However, I made a conscious effort not to let it overwhelm me. Instead, I decided to channel my stress into writing a story while awaiting the airline’s call, which would inform us about whether they had located my passport or not.
Hours later, the call came, bringing relief as I learned the crew had found my passport and I wouldn’t have to make a trip to the Embassy. The plane would return to Krabi the next day. With my troubles gone, my brothers and I spent the rest of our time exploring a world completely separate from ours, a world we would soon realize we never wanted to leave…if only my passport could have remained lost a little while longer.