Tuesday 3 October 2023

USA Day 1-2: Arrival in Hyatt Regency Lexington, Kentucky

I was given the opportunity by my organisation to present at a conference in Lexington, Kentucky! To get there, I'll need to take 3 flights and transit at 2 airports!

This epic trip marked a lot of firsts for me! It was my first time:

  • visiting the USA, which is the furthest I've travelled so far!
  • traveling for more than 24 hours!
  • having to transit more than once per way!
  • going through 7 airports in one trip (to and fro, excluding Changi airport)!
  • going to theme parks for 5 days in a row!
  • flying ALONE!

To be honest, the last time I had flown without my kids was in 2013 and I don't think I've ever flown alone before! I was understandably quite nervous πŸ˜…

I packed my luggage with lots of cup noodles (super Asian I know!) and checked in at Changi Airport Terminal 1 to catch my flight. It was cheap thrill that I could finally use the automatic lanes after 10 years of queuing at immigration counters with kids younger than 6 years old (who can't use the automatic lanes)! I was also invited to use the Morhaba Lounge, which offered light snacks and drinks! This was another new experience for me! πŸ˜ƒ

I had about an hour to enjoy the lounge and have some snacks before my flight.

I was flying with American Airlines but the first flight to Tokyo was operated by Japan Airlines as part of the OneWorld Alliance co-share programme. 

The plane departed on time at 1.50am, which was in the afternoon in USA, hence I had planned not to sleep on this flight in a bid to reduce the effects of jetlag on arrival. However, no matter how hard I tried, I still ended up sleeping for about 3 hours! πŸ˜…

We were served our breakfast about 1 hour before landing. Other than the very dry and not very tasty noodles, the rest of the side dishes were ok.

After a smooth 7-hour flight, my plane arrived earlier than scheduled at Tokyo Haneda Airport Terminal 3 at 9.40am Japan time (10.40am Singapore time).

I had almost 2 hours in transit, but decided not to shop as I didn't want to carry extra weight so early on my trip. I'd shop on my way back to Singapore instead.

My next flight from Tokyo to Chicago was also operated by Japan Airlines. The plane departed on time at 11.45am Japan time (12.45pm Singapore time). Not long after take off, we were served our lunch. Compared to the previous flight, the food was much better on this flight! We were even given special JAL Milk Tea Tart Haagen Dazs ice cream! Yum! πŸ˜‹

The flight was about 11 hours 40 minutes and I spent most of the time switching between watching movies and sleeping. However, I experienced backaches because my body can no longer endure long flights like it used to! I kept checking the flight duration on my screen and was disappointed to find out that not much time had passed! It was very gruelling! *sigh*

I looked forward to breakfast, because I know we'll be landing not long after breakfast was served! Yummy! 

I finally arrived at Chicago O'Hare International Airport Terminal 5 at 9.25am Chicago time (10.25pm Singapore time). 

Terminal 5 was an international terminal, hence I had to clear customs and collect my checked baggage before transiting to domestic. The process was relatively fast and orderly, unlike the many horror stories I've heard from fellow travellers. Although there was a very long queue to exit the baggage claim area, the American Airlines counter to drop off my luggage was located just outside the exit. The staff made the process such a breeze and even directed me to the platform to board the train to Terminal 3.

The process to clear security at Terminal 3 was equally efficient and I ended up having to wait for more than 3 hours for my next flight! To make matters worse, the plane was delayed by 1 hour! It was already 2.30pm Chicago time (3.30am Singapore time) by the time I boarded the plane! πŸ₯΄

The American Eagle plane was the smallest I've ever flown on! Each row had only 2 economy-sized seats on each side of the aisle, a very small galley and just 1 flight attendant. Even the overhead compartments can only fit backpacks hence all carry on luggage had to be checked in at the gate.

The flight was only 1 hour 20 minutes and in that short time, our sole flight attendant single-handedly did the safety briefing, served snacks and drinks and prepared the passengers for take off and landing! Amazing! πŸ˜ƒ

After travelling for 26 hours (including transit), I had finally arrived at Lexington Blue Grass Airport at 5pm Lexington time (5am Singapore time)!! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜…

Lexington is known as the horse capital of the world, hence it is very common to see decoration of horses everywhere! Even the music to signal the arrival of luggage at the baggage claim belt was related to horse racing! πŸ˜ƒ

After collecting my luggage, I tried to book a Lyft/Uber (USA's version of private hire) but I couldn't get one. In the end, I had to take a taxi, which cost me US$35 (excluding US$5 tip).

I checked in at Hyatt Regency Lexington, the conference venue and my accommodation in Lexington.

I can't wait to head to my 2 Queen Beds room, which I had booked at US$231.50 (special conference rate) per room per night. I wanted a room with a king bed but it was not available when I booked.

The room was huge and clean. There was also a coffee machine to make coffee/tea or get hot water. I've noticed that most hotels in USA no longer use electric kettles.

The bathroom was a decent size with basic toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, bath foam, cotton sheets, shower cap and body lotion.

However, the room lacked amenities that I'd been accustomed to in hotels in Asia. There were no toothbrushes, bedroom slippers, bathrobes or bottled water! 😞

I love the beautiful view of Lexington town from my room window! It's one of the things I'd miss about Lexington 😊

After washing up, I met up with my ex-supervisor, who was also my first mentor when I joined my organisation! She was attending the same conference and we agreed to meet for dinner. We both chose Triangle Park Cafe Senor Chimi, which was located just behind our hotel and had good Google reviews.

The weather in Lexington was 20°C, perfect for eating al fresco! We shared some tacos and a burrito, which were delicious!

After dinner, we walked to the nearest convenience store, Clark's Main Street Market, and bought a gallon bottle of water at US$2.30 each. We need water! πŸ˜„

After a very long journey, I was exhausted and so ready to bathe and get to bed! Good night! 😴

Continue to >> USA Day 3-5: TCOM Conference


Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Lexington & Orlando, United States of America as well as other travel itineraries

You can also follow my travel adventures on Instagram via the hashtag #madpsychmumtravels! =)
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