Taiwan to Vietnam on VietJet airlines.
It was my smart-ass idea to sleep at the airport in Taipei. A good money-saving technique when you’re on a travel shoestring. Luckily Taipei is a place where you can sleep on the ass-crack-sweat seats of a quiet Burger King – if you can call being woken up every ten minutes by a group of ten-year-old twenty-somethings giggling at their phones – sleep.
Functioning on what felt like constantly hitting the snooze button we boarded our flight from Taipei to Ho Chi Minh city – excited about the prospect of new surroundings, but dog-tired from our airport sleepover. I wasn’t expecting much. The flights were cheap. I should have known better.
The seats were jammed together like bunches of bananas with humans squeezed in between the creases – the whole plane smelled like a festival port-a-loo. The air stewards looked like they were at the end of their shifts – or ropes, difficult to tell when you’re half asleep. They looked haggard and angry. They gave the safety instructions with a look on their faces that said: ‘I sure hope this bird plummets into the god-damned ocean so all of these miserable fucks get eaten by hungry sharks who will subsequently excrete them into the bottomless abyss of crushing pressure to become endless shark-shit soup’.
Of course, there was a woman close enough to me to infect me with her crackly mucus cough that was splattering all over the seats in huge dirt-green globules. She unceremoniously spat half of it into the handkerchief she kept tucked away against her bosom like a precious emerald she would one day pass on to her awful grandchildren.
We couldn’t open the blinds because the sun wanted to nuclear-bomb our retinas into glittering dust and it was hot. Hot as hell and I was trying to figure out why the air up in the sky was colder than the air down on the ground.
I’ve had some rough flights in my time – been thrown around in turbulence, puked my guts up in a 9-seater over the Grand Canyon, bounced off a runway in Acapulco, almost crashed because of ice on the tarmac in Norway. But, when it comes to the sheer wanting to get off an aeroplane because of its hot-ass, super cramped, stinking, old-people hauling Vietjet piece of flying fucking rat AIDS – that one, took the fucking biscuit.
All I wanted was shelter, a cigarette and a million Christ-loving years of beautiful, dream-free sleep. But, no.
The hilarity of at least being able to peek through the crease in the banana seats was at least allowing me to crack a cloudy smile. I watched as a Vietnamese woman was being bested by a Candy Crush-esque app. She was becoming more and more irate as she jabbed her rusty, old wrinkly sausage fingers at the screen of her phone. Then it rang – up in the sky and she answered it. When did the rules change? Are we allowed to do that now? Where was the email blast? The office memo I didn’t receive letting all the other passengers know she could do whatever the hell she wanted with zero reprimand from the uncaring attendants even if it meant infuriating all of the passengers in her immediate radius. I pondered for a moment whether it would be possible to open the door and throw only her out into the oxygen-free sky without endangering any of the other passengers.
The savagery up there was like the Heart of Darkness had a love child with Requiem for a Dream and mind-fucked us all – she had to be an ex-VietCong torture expert. There is simply no other explanation for it.