April 01, 2016

Near disaster #1, diverted

We've never been so grateful that a flight was canceled in our lives! When Marc was booking our flights, he very understandably mistook the name of Dali for Dalian -- he just had the airport code in his mind as he arranged the trip, so there was no reason to double-check anything. The whole set of interlocking flights was arranged, the trip was planned, hotels booked, airport pick-ups arranged, taxi drivers arranged, and we were good to go.

And then one of the flights was simply canceled. Not only that, I don't think he got a real notification from the airline, there was just something strange about the flight as it showed up in our flight app. So Marc (unlike me....I just assumed the flight app was goofy) decided to look into it, and sure enough that flight was simply canceled.

Which turned out to be a very good thing, because Dalian is 3,606km from Dali, where we are intending to go. Dalian is very near Pyongyang, N Korea. Dali is in the Yunnan province. Far, far away.

What if we'd simply caught the flight we were booked on! We'd have landed in Dalian and thought we were in Dali. We wouldn't have known why there was no one there to pick us up from our hotel. We couldn't have spoken to anyone. We would've found a taxi and showed the driver our printed-out information for the hotel (Marc always prepares that in the native language, with directions to the hotel in that language, a photo of the hotel, the address in that language) and the driver would've realized we were in the wrong place, but we wouldn't have been able to make any sense of what he was telling us.

How long would it have taken us to figure it out! Maybe we never would have, because it never would've occurred to us that we were in an entirely different part of the country -- maybe it would be like being in Washington DC when you believe you're in Washington state, and you don't know what the different landscapes are like so that doesn't help, and you can't understand the language, and you hear something that sounds the same, 'washington,' so how would you ever make sense?

What a nightmare that would've been. Yesterday we were talking about what we might've done -- maybe we would've just booked a flight home, out of our sheer and overwhelming confusion and simple overwhelm.

This has never happened to us before, and it's a risk when you plan the whole trip all by yourself, no travel guide, no travel agent, nothing. We're wondering if there's another mistake that we're unaware of, but what to do! We'll find out if/when it happens.

When he went to fix the flight problem, a bunch of other problems came up because we couldn't get a flight that fit into our already-made puzzle plans, so he had to do some jiggering and reworking -- took him about a week. So now we have a night in Kunming that we hadn't planned for, and one less night in a place we really wanted to linger in, but at least we won't be on the wrong side of the country. :)

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