Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jani ho-like a herd of turtles

Blog #1
Nov. 27, 2007

Well, It's just a few days before I depart for Asia... My to-do list seems infinite, and my travel anxiety (that you aren't suppose to know about) is at a relatively healthy, yet elevated hum; rather than the usually revved up, dread inducing levels of the past. That's a really good thing and I take note with a confident inner smile, kind of like that rare occasion in mid life when you like what you see in the mirror... At any rate, it's looking like the foo dogs of departure are already barring their teeth and will surely be nipping at my heels as I leave the ground for the wild blue yonder. The good news is that Austin is just about as big as my thumbnail at 30,000 feet.

Crossing the big water is always a welcome but scary rite of passage for me. Something about my body hurtling through space, then dropping down from the sky and skidding to a halt just hours later on the other side of the planet... It's always been difficult for me to wrap my brain around but it's something of comfort to see that no matter where you go, tarmac always looks the same.

There's a particular point of this Asian passage that I've noticed over years of traveling here and that is the avocado green linoleum tile floor at the customs area of the Bangkok airport. It's become familiar to me like a pleasant river crossing in a reoccurring dream, and also the dinner bell for pad thai and coffee just upstairs at my favorite funky little cafe.

But the economy has picked up over there and so I'll be arriving at a spanking new airport.. So the best I can hope for is the same color scheme and my usual lunch.

Lots more to come I suppose...  I better get with the program as the list is beckoning!

And considering my anxiety, all I have to say is: "If I don't see you in the future, I'll see you in the pasture."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The flight over

Written-December 4, 2007

Up at 4AM to get to the airport..My sweet wife Patti drove me in a Lebanese farewell fashion. She kept waving good bye as my heart sank and I gave our famous whistle with lament as I was pushed farther along and through the Homeland Security cattle gate. I hated to see her finally go.

Suddenly, I realized that I needed to find my travel Friends Roger and Kristi ASAP because being that we were on two separate flights, it dawned on me, “how would they would ever get to the Shanti Lodge in Bangkok if we got separated?”

They finally appeared and explained that Roger in his infinite wisdom decided to cure his potential jet lag by getting drunk with his pals and staying up all night but he puked about three hours into the marathon and had passed out by 11PM. His wife Kristi was all excited about germ prevention. She was armed internally with garlic pills and externally with a dust mask. These troopers were ready to go!

Roger wanted to replace the dinner that he’d lost to his expert jet lag training technique with a slice of pizza and here is Kristi sporting her wares to ward off “infidels” as Roger calls those pesky overseas germs.

My lovely pal Kristina picked me up at the San Francisco airport. She and her dear husband Bob and spunky pooch, Colby. We had a 50 minute love/giggle-fest in their kitchen which has long served as a “town hall” meeting place of many of the world’s great minds. Many awesome moments indeed continue with these terrific human beings.

Light, Mademoiselle???

Well I finally made it to Bangkok. It was a really long 21 hours. The extremely slick architecture of the giant new airport didn’t sport that green linoleum floor that I pined for. The only green I got to see was in the pallor of the face of a young Asian woman who projectile vomited on the floor right between my aisle seat and the guy next to me in the other aisle seat, who blew his nose like a f@%#ing fog horn every time I’d finally begin to doze off.

It was kind of funny to me how I had just written in my journal just hours before how I hadn’t had to sit for this long since Patti & I endured a frigid and smoky 12 hour bus ride full of Tibetans in western China. Weak stomachs are a little known trait of these hardy mountain people, but they really put on a show for us as our bald tyred bus slid around hair pin turns all day long laboring up and down the icy Himalaya of Sichuan Tibet like a slow whipping rollycoaster.

When I my eyes found the gaunt and pale faced lady stumbling down the dark aisle towards us, she was already cupping her mouth with her hands. She was obviously in hopeful pursuit of the bathroom, but as fate would have it, natural urges overpowered the seal of her hands. To her credit though, her sortie’s trajectory proved to be with great precision as it landed exactly in between our seats…. HOLY JESUS!

Flight attendants arrived on the scene suited up in rubber gloves and ready for action. One of them whisked the sick lady away and the other two got to work.
They must have learned this procedure well in Flight attendant school because about a dozen little of bottles of vodka and a big bag of ground coffee later their mission was accomplished with great efficiency. Most impressive, I must say.

The best part of all of this to me was watching all the Chinese people jump in horror as their comrades made them aware of what they were standing in as they paused or slowly walked by us…It was fabulous slapstick that provided all of us enlightened ones with great amusement.

A good time was had by almost all! I should have taken a picture….

Here’s all I have from the flight…

(See photos of the endless sunset as we chased it across Icy Siberia and my new pal, Fang Hei Yen.)