Today was fascinating, not least because it was twenty-eight hours long and also included all of tomorrow. For a day that was almost entirely spent on an airplane, I got a fair dose of excitement.
It began, really, when I arrived three hours early for my flight to Bangkok, via Taipei. The first step was to shepherd my bag through security, a shockingly boring two-hour task, followed by a well-run 15-minute check-in at the China Airlines desk, followed, in turn, by a 30-minute wait in a line for security that stretched the length of LAX’s international terminal. Why, if one weren’t paying attention one might have thought that the Taiwanese were the organized, efficient first-world nation, while we were the inefficient, bureaucratic developing nation.
Any thoughts otherwise were, certainly, relieved when the “terminal was evacuated”:http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_165215312.html. Nobody told us nothing, and none of the TSA cops followed-up that we were leaving the building; somehow, however, the momentum of the mass of humanity got moving outside, and, with some help from the LAPD, we were herded down to the next terminal.
Actually, the evacuation was probably good for me, because I sprinted back in and got to security before the line managed to grow much more than a half dozen people long. Then I sprinted the length of the terminal to get to my gate; then I waited because they had to delay the plane for an hour to get it fully-fueled. Oh well, that’s better than flying an incompletely-fueled plane.
Once in the air, I fell asleep fast (recall my original 1:15am departure), but was rudely awoken in mid-Pacific by 40 minutes of medium-grade turbulence. Ten minutes were fun, fifteen was still kind of cool, but by 25 I was getting a little bit of motion sickness and I was glad to leave the bumpy air behind and get back to sleep. Morning brought a very Chinese airplane meal of pork congee and pickles.
The next step was a seven-hour wait in Taiwan’s Chiang Kai Shek airport, which was universally referred to there as CKS airport — I wonder if that’s a political statement? Anyway, I could tell I’d gotten to my gate early:
So I took the time to look at all of the signage, quite the challenge since I neither speak nor read any Asian language. Fortunately, at least one of the following signs doesn’t need any translation:
I think the second sign says, top to bottom:
* Waterfowl will be imported into TRON
* No right-facing ducks, left-facing ducks and pigs only
* For that matter, no right front wheels
* Don’t forget to call your duck when traveling
* Dynamite is fun!
I had a nice bowl of beef and noodles at the airport, then, finally, got to sleep all the way to Thailand (I noticed that my flight’s map studiousy avoided any overflight of China. Then I landed in Bangkok, welcomed by a sudden thunderstorm that lit the sky with flashes. I made it past crowds of hucksters, keeping on the straight-and-narrow until I went to a stand that said “taxi” and procured a transport there which was not, in fact, a taxi, being rather about twice as expensive for the same service. After that I got to see my hotel room:
And its scenic view
Well, all that’s not bad, since I’ll be heading out tomorrow to see the real Bangkok and not the real Khao San road (yes, I’m in the backpacker’s haven — thought it would be easier to find a drink out if I wanted one). I had a quick dinner at a streetside stand today, and tomorrow we’ll really test if I can survive more of that. For now, I plan to collapse in complete exhaustion, since two days is a lot to fit into one!