Monday, March 11, 2013

A Trip of a Lifetime - to the US & the UK (Part 1) - the news and the departure

It was 14th January that I got a call from my boss. It had already been quite an interesting, or, shall I say, terrible day, thanks to AirAsia, when it decided that the 10.00am flight that we were supposed to take to Langkawi flew off without us TEN MINUTES BEFORE the scheduled departure time!

When we inquired at 9.50am, the airplane had left and our baggage was already taken off the plane! That means that they had taken our bags looooong BEFORE they were to fly off. Sounds fishy, don’t you think?

Anyway, I will write more on that in a separate posting. Now for the good news that I got that day.

My boss called me at about 3.30pm when we were just getting into our hotel room after having to take the next flight to Langkawi at 12.30noon. We had just had our lunch. A LATE LUNCH, thanks to AirAsia again, which of course, was not on them. The 12.30noon flight was delayed.

Anyway, I told my boss of my day when he asked me if things were OK on my side. When I told him that AirAsia had ‘robbed’ us when it decided to depart without us, making us buy another ticket, my boss said that today might be their day, but there will be other days that will be my day, and this could just be the news I needed.

He asked if I wanted to go to the US on a working trip to visit some special schools for a project which I will soon be involved in.

Say that again, Boss?

Was I dreaming? Quick, pinch me!

Yes, that was exactly how I felt when my boss first asked me the question that 14th January 2013.

I could not believe my ears! It’s been 27 years that I waited for this opportunity to travel overseas, other than Thailand and Indonesia, for work. I have heard my colleagues who are involved in embassy projects travelling almost monthly overseas, taking them to the Philippines, India, China, the UK, the US, and many other countries where there are projects implemented by the Government, to monitor projects on behalf of the government.

I was always envious of them. I could only wish that someday I could be that lucky one.

To say that I had never travelled overseas for work at all in my 27 years of service is probably not totally true. I have travelled to Bali in 2006 for the Terengganu Airport project and also to Koh Samui, Thailand in 2004. But it was a trip that I almost did not get to go until the 11th hour.

I was instructed to go to Koh Samui on a Friday evening, and I was to leave for Koh Samui that coming Sunday evening. It was only a two day one night trip. It was done in a rush because it was an instruction by the Minister for me to visit the Koh Samui Airport as we were involved in an airport project which was to be designed like a resort airport.

I arrived in Koh Samui late Sunday evening when all the offices at the airport were closed. The next day, after spending the whole day visiting the airport, we took the next flight out back to Kuala Lumpur. I was there for hardly 24 hours!

I almost did not make it for the trip to Bali in 2006 when the seats given to me and my project team members were hijacked by other parties not related to the project. But an intervention by the Menteri Besar of Terengganu solved all that. I only knew that I was able to make the flight at the 11th hour when the Terengganu State Government made the neccessary arrangements for my tickets to Bali.

I was in Bali for 3 days 2 nights, with all the adventures of my luggage not arriving the same day I did! LOL!

You can read more about it here.
But this trip, the trip that my boss was talking about, is a trip to the US, a trip that is like a dream trip come true! I have been waiting for this opportunity for God knows how long!

After going through many disappointments for the last 2 trips overseas, I really did not want to get my hopes up too high, especially since I had to focus on Aiman who is about to embark on a new chapter in his life.

When I got back to the office on the 16th of January, I immediately went to see my boss to ask him further about the trip and what it entails.

The next 2 weeks was a hectic one, what with us trying to adjust life without Aiman at home, the paperwork that I needed to do to go overseas on Government Service, the clothes and things I needed to get as I will be travelling during the winter, and a 1001 other things!

At the same time that I was doing all the paperwork, I was also praying hard that this trip will materialize. I did not want the last incident of the trip being hijacked from me be repeated.

At the same time, I was torn between wanting to go for this much awaited trip and wanting to stay when Aiman comes home for the Chinese New Year holidays as I will be away at the time he comes home for the holidays as the trip has been scheduled for the 2nd of February to the 12th of February 2013. Aiman leaves for Kedah on the 11th of February.

I was heartbroken that the trip will take me away from my son, but, with hubby’s support, I decided to go ahead with the trip as I wouldn’t know when I will ever have this once in a life time opportunity again. Thanks, Dia, for your support! Hugs!

I only bought my winter clothes just days before the trip, but only started packing just the day before the trip after I had gotten my visa and approval from the Ministry for me to make the trip. I got my flight tickets just the day before the trip!

It felt like I was only certain of making the trip upon seeing my name on the ticket! LOL!

My trip not only involved visiting special schools in Washington D.C. and New York, but also London! Wow! Talk about a whirlwind trip, if all goes well, I’ll be making a whirlwind trip halfway round the world with a stopover at a city almost anybody in the world wants to visit – London, the city where Prince William and Kate lives! LOL! *blush*

Our first flight was to Washington D.C. with a 5 hour transit in London.

It was lucky that the organiser of the trip decided to have a 5 hour transit in London before taking the next flight, because by the time all 10 of us in the delegation managed to go through the tight security checks, we were only left with 2 hours to have our lunch and a breather before we were to take an eight hour flight to Washington D.C.

I posted this update on my FB page while waiting for the rest of the delegation to go through security checks.

End of Day 1 - 3rd February 2013

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