Purple Suitcase Problem

After visiting me and spending the weekend in Bangkok, Jessica’s plan was to continue on to Cambodia for a week before meeting up in Shanghai. She had just come from several weeks in the US so she had extra luggage she did not want to lug to Cambodia. She asked if she could leave it with me and if I could bring it to China for her. Like a good friend, I agreed, little did I know…

It was a fairly simple process, take a taxi to the bus station, take the bus to the airport, take the airport rail to the last stop, and walk to my hostel from there. I did not realize her suitcase was so heavy and my muscles have deteriorated since my competitive swimming career ended in 2014. The boarding house cleaning lady took the suitcase down the stairs because she saw me struggling. The taxi driver and bus driver loaded and unloaded the suitcase for me.

Just a normal carry on sized suitcase, what could go wrong?


Once at the airport I had to take the elevator from departures on the fourth floor to the rail in the basement. On the first floor the elevator was flooded with a Chinese tour group. The Thai woman and I who were already in the elevator got smushed in the back. The woman was yelling “no more, no more, too full” at the tour group as they squeezed all of them in. They were so surprised when the elevator continued going down.

When the elevator arrived on the basement level the Thai woman shouted at them to get off so her and I could exit the elevator and they said it wasn’t their floor so she forced her way through them. The tour group was reluctant to move out of the way since they were packed in tighter than sardines. I had to force my way through them too which I did successfully, however they did not part enough to allow the suitcase to pass through.
The suitcase was stuck in the middle of this mob of tourists but I was outside the elevator and the doors started to close on my torso.

Fortunately for me, they decided to move enough for the suitcase to get through but not soon enough that the suitcase didn’t get caught on the elevator doors. I got on the airport rail without further incident. Though I created a traffic jam trying to get the suitcase down the stairs from the rail and one guy had enough of my slow labored movements that he just took the suitcase from me and brought it down the stairs.

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HOW IS IT SO HEAVY???

After picking up my passport with my new Chinese visa, the next day I was flying to Shanghai which meant I had to take the suitcase up to the airport rail and then on to the plane. There was an escalator going up to the rail which was good since I didn’t have to take the stairs. However, I got the suitcase caught on the railing; rather than falling down the escalator or attempting to pull the suitcase free I just let it go, deciding I would walk down the stairs to get it. The woman behind me was kind enough to free it and bring it to me.

I had a nonstop flight to Shanghai from Bangkok on Spring Air (which I will never fly again). Since it was an international flight I tried to be at the airport three hours early which ended up being two and a half hours early. When I arrived at the check in counter the woman had me weigh the suitcase, it ended up being 19 kilograms. She told me I had to weigh all my luggage, carry on bags included, that totaled to about 30 kilograms. Then she informed me that I was only allowed 15 kilograms of luggage total and every kilogram over was 355 baht.

It is a common sight to see Asians traveling with enough luggage for a small army so this policy made sense while being ridiculous at the same time. The woman told me to repack my luggage. I asked her how I was supposed to do that since it was going to weigh the same no matter where I put things. She told me I would have to throw things away. Jessica’s suitcase was full of books for school (which she needed), giant bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (also something I couldn’t throw away), a few cold weather clothes (she would need those in China), and beer as a gift for her coworkers. No wonder her suitcase was so heavy!

In the end I had to get rid of the beer which brought the luggage total down to 26 kilograms.

I asked the woman behind the counter where a garbage can was and she told me I couldn’t bring the beer on the plane because my luggage was too heavy. I told her I would pay the fine. She directed me to an office and said she couldn’t give me the boarding pass until I had paid the fine and that I couldn’t bring the beer on the plane.

As this was all going on, time was ticking, I had about an hour and a half to make it to my flight and I was starting to panic. The fine was over 100 USD which I had in cash baht just to take two pieces of luggage on this plane. I made it through security and immigration pretty quickly and was at the gate 45 minutes before the plane took off; just in time to board.

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Seemingly innocent…

2 thoughts on “Purple Suitcase Problem

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