Monday, March 2, 2009

Departures Mongolia: lost luggage

The more I watch this show, the more I wonder just how they travel. Scott Wilson, in the latest episode, lost his luggage due to a mismatch of missed airline connections. For the next number of days, as he rode across Mongolian backcountry on jittery jeep, harrowing horseback, and [slightly] ridiculous reindeer he had nothing but his one set of clothes, and that which he could borrow from his co-traveller Justin Lukach.

The more I think about my own travels, the more I begin factoring in early arrival; a precaution in effort to catch up with lost luggage.

If I were leaving for Antarctica the morning after my plane arrived, and my plane landed without my pack… what would I do? I’ll tell you what I would do. I would get on the boat, wearing my poncho, a t-shirt, shorts, and whatever else I had on my person. And then I would be very, very, unhappy.

And cold. I would most definitely be cold. Unlike Scott Wilson, and the rest of his Departures crew, I would not have the luxury of being in a warm climate. In Southeast Asia, I have no problem visualizing myself without baggage for a week. I could – shall we say – modify my clothing for the temperature. But when headed down to view penguins in their natural habitat, which I feel I must remind you all is ice and frigid expanse, it is a very different story.

From everything I’ve read, Antarctica rarely falls below negative five in March. Obviously this is not the case when you’re deeper inland, but for my purposes that’s as cold as it is likely to get. All in all that’s not a bad day, during a Torontonian winter. And to be honest, I’ve only worn long sleeves four times since fall surreptitiously slithered into winter.

So there I would be without my baggage, in Antarctica, being somewhat unimpressed, but still able to take in all the sights.

Back to Departures. When Justin Lukach grows tired of lending out orange screen printed camouflage t-shirts where will Scott Wilson get his original possessions back from? They had to leave before the airport could deliver them to a stable address. The trio would be on the move for the next few weeks, and far removed from accessible roadways. How would they get their belongings back?

So, months from now, when I write about how my luggage is missing, and I didn’t have enough time to wait for it – and I’m quite bothered by the fact that I have no idea how I’m ever going to track it back down – think back to this moment and realize that I’d learned nothing; realize that I’d taken no proper precautions into account.

But then, it worked for Scott, Justin, and Andre way back in the Cook Islands and it seems like it will eventually work out for them in Mongolia too. Perhaps I should take notes during next week’s episode, and learn from their tumultuous trepidations. But most likely I’ll be too taken in my the beautiful cinematography, and well crafted narrative showcasing parts of a country so rarely visited.


  1. i found your blog a few days ago, read of your love for departures and then last night i was looking for something to watch and what do you know - departures was on so i gave it a go.

    thanks for introducing me to it. i really enjoyed it.

    as for lost luggage...well, you got me there. perhaps the airline eventually sends it to the airport it was supposed to go to then you contact them or vice versa to see/when it arrives?

  2. just wear 1/3 of everything you plan to pack, on the plane -- just layer it all on and walk out of the house looking like the Michelin man. LOL Then begin peeling things off just as your seat mate's head starts to bob. -- Tammie

  3. Someone told me to always bring a carry-on with a day's worth of clothes...just in case of a situation like the above.

  4. Scott's lost luggage had me take a second thought about my upcoming trip to Hong Kong. Although I'm not yet sure what I'll pack for clothes, I've decided that I have to start packing at least one day's worth of clothes on my carry-on luggage and perhaps more than one sets of unmentionables and socks just in case.

    I too can't wait until the next episode of Departures. Their time up in the northern area of Mongolia was just so cool! It reminded me of my time in Umiujaq, Nunavik, Quebec.


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