I've had some sleep (ok, 4 hours) and it's about 8:25 in the morning here. Everyone's gone off for their own work so I'm home alone.
Here's the second chunk:
On The Flight
I was seated in the first Economy Class row - originally 26C, right opposite where the flight attendants sit. However, there was another guy that came in and had my seat too. (He shall henceforth be known as Double-Seated Guy, or DS Guy for short.) The flight attendents checked out passes, and it turns out my seat got swapped - so now I was at 26A, right behind the exit.
Quite an interesting spot, that.
The first leg of the flight was to Taipei - 4 hours flight, pretty much like flying to Dhaka. (Incidentally, I encountered a couple from Bangladesh on the flight - will elaborate on this later.) In our row:
Me, checking out the view while contemplating using the exit shelf as a temporary table. Well, not really. But I took out the inseat table as soon as I can and started writing in my journal - I needed something to do.
Middle Guy 1, who spent the whole flight watching movies (Beauty Shop, and something else with Jimmy Fallon). Incidentally, Malaysian Airlines are airing Sepet this month, but only to routes in Australia, UK, and Africa. Sigh.
DS Guy, who
is quite the cutie spent quite some time looking out the exit window, admiring the view. We chatted for a while. He also spent a lot of time studying the GMAT - turns out he's starting on a Masters degree soon. Whoa. He's also travelled around the world - Peru, Brazil, Thailand, all sorts of places.
The leading flight attendant for this leg was a lady named Precious - heavy blue eyeshadow, seemingly British until she launches into her very Malaysian-Indian accent. Like Asha when she's making a point. She could have been either very hilarious or very patronizing...but we didn't interact long enough to find out.
We had a "light snack" (more like something that makes up for lunch) - chicken, fish, or curry. I took the fish; eh, it was OK. It tasted like it was swimming in oyster sauce - not bad doe me, as I eat oyster sauce on occasion. mmm umami.
Then we had the best after-meals snack ever - ICE CREAM! Crunch - vanilla icecream with a crunchy chocolate centre and cover. I turn into a little kid when given icecream...come on, who doesn't?
We stopped over in Taipei around 8 pm for about an hour. Already I was being bombarded with text messages from Maxis and FarEasTone (Taipei's telco provider) - apparently I can get free weather reports, and now's the time to activate GPRS on my phone. There was an Internet section, but you needed your own computer, and it wasn't clear on how exactly you were expected to pay for it. The only store worth visiting - the bookstore, of course - was closed; however, they did have a rather intriguing store that was connected to their Museum of History.
We all hung around the departure lounge for a while. Security checks were normal - I did set off the metal detector, and the guard thought I still had my cellphone with me, but I showed him the phone on the Xray carousel and he let me through.
There is a Daniel Bedingfield lookalike on our flight.
The next leg - Taipei to LA, 11 hours or so. It seemed faster than before; last time, it took about 24 hours. Or at least it felt that way. Still, 11 hours straight on an airplane can get boring.
We had a new Middle Guy (2), who brought along a book titled "50 Facts That Should Change The World". He too spent the flight watching movies. He was also sniffly; and now, thanks to him, I have a blocked nose too. Bah.
I spent most of the flight reading my downloaded materials on my PDA. I couldn't spend long hours on it though; my eyes started to hurt. I did spend some time playing trivia games (since when was a question on Little Women considered "Science"?!) - DS Guy wanted to play multiplayer with me, but it wasn't working.
Another leading stewadress, Lee Ling, complimented me on my rainbow toe socks. YAY SOXES.
We had fish again for dinner! Not our choices this time; they ran out of choices. The fish was mediocre, not even umami. I'll be darned if we have to take fish again for brunch.
The immigration papers were a bit confusing, mainly because there wasn't enough space for all my pertinent information. And I wasn't sure how to value the host family gifts I brought over (you have to provide the value of anything you're bringing over to the US that's staying there - gifts included). I eventuallyw wrote that they were all worth about US$40, but even that seemed a bit much.
Sleeping was an experience in and of itself. I didn't have a lot of legroom, and there was that exit shelf in the way. After trying to twist into various positions, I eventually tried putting my feet up on the shelf. Whee, slippery - and whee, I'm too short. But what to do? I had to fall asleep somehow.
The skies made very interesting patterns. There was bluer-than-blue sky below, then light blue and white slies on top, split in the middle by a brilliant orange sunset. (DS Guy alerted me to it) It was like nature's idea of a straight line...perhaps not completely straight mathematically, but perfect. LAter on, as the sky got darker and we went towards night, there was this lone star...small little jewel on a velvet blue sky.
Taiwan at night looks like an electric lung. The island is shaped like one...there were dust-red capillaries of its lifeblood, traffic and people...its cells, the skyscrapers and buildings, lighted up with activity.
The clouds look like swans.
We were reaching Los Angeles, and there was something curious about the cloud system there. Apparently, due to the water being cold but the land being hot (LA is a desert city), clouds don't cover the land. This creates an interesting effect when viewed from an airplane - it looks like there are lands that come up to sky level. Like another world.
LA by plane is an experience in itself. There are sprawling deserts and mountains...one wonders how they travel back and forth amongst all that dust and sand. There were also squares and rectangles of grass, desert, concrete...and nothing else. Just squares and rectangles of space. SO MUCH SPACE.
There were also interesting seeing the patterns of the buildings - huge sprawling mansions and multi-level buildings, constrasted by blocks and rows and small little houses. One of them belonging to my uncle; another, to my future host family.
There was quite a buildup at the washrooms just before we landed. We almost formed a Bathroom Brigade right there and then. One of the stewards was in charge of cleaning out the sinks; it must be a sight, walking out of the washroom door only to be confronted by a guy in a suit and plastic gloves.
Brunch was spinach omelettes with tomatoes, chicken, and hash browns. Much better.
The descent looked like we were going to land on the highway. Illusions are interesting in the air.
The flight felt very freeing...I was alone, I had to fend for myself, but it was alright. I didn't need anyone, I wasn't homesick, I wasn't worried. I didn't have to depend on anyone to get by.
Everything was fine.