After a meal of “chicken or beef?” I popped an Ambien CR so as to pretend the rest of the 25-hour flight never happened. I awoke groggy and half dazed from the prescription (the ad promised I would awake refreshed after 8 hours), and my cheap digital watch from Target informed me that I had slept only 3 hours. I jabbed the miniature TV screen, conveniently located right behind the head of the person in front of me, and saw a mini airplane on the map cruising over the northernmost part of Alaska.
I was seized with fear that the plane had been hijacked. After all, our destination was Asia, not Alaska. But aware that paranoia was one of the many side effects of prescription sleep aids, I set aside the hijacker theory and looked again at the 4-inch screen (approximately 9 inches away from my face) and found that the temperature of the air outside was -79 degrees Fahrenheit. I snapped pictures of the blue-gray ice thousands of feet below and briefly considered finding out what that temperature would feel like in order to relieve my ears from the shrieking toddler one aisle over. Surely there is a market for infant tranquilizers.
After two layovers in D.C. and Tokyo and a few hours of sleep (or however close you can get to sleep sitting in coach), I arrived at Bangkok International Airport baggage claim and met the other 19 students from all over the United States who were also traveling with EF College Break on the tour entitled “Exotic Thailand.” We met our local tour guide, Del, who spoke English well and greeted us warmly while we loaded the charter bus in the middle of the night. By the time we got settled into our hotel at 2 a.m. local time, no one was tired, and I knew this would be the start of a very disturbed sleep cycle.