Halfway Around The World

The trip here was simultaneously exhausting and uneventful. It took about 27 hours from when we left our house for the Airport to when we checked into our hotel in Bangkok. By the way- I was wrong about the way flying / time travel / daylight would work. I assumed we'd fly back out of the daylight and have darkness as we crossed the International Date Line, but actually we moved WITH the sun, as noon in Vancouver BC slowly became 5:00 pm or so in Guangzhou China. Perpetual daylight, for about 23 hours. If anything helped with the time transition, it was probably that.

I didn't really take many pictures. Vancouver's airport is one of the more pleasant that I've been to. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner we spent 12 hours on was actually quite comfortable for the circumstances. When we checked into our flight, we changed seats to ensure we were sitting by each other (Expedia didn't do this for us automatically), and were given an exit row. The extra leg room, while not necessary for a man of my leg quantity, was appreciated. Solid movie selection. I watched Cloud Atlas and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, napped after each round of mediocre Chinese airplane food, and generally just tried to stay in the zone. We also spent less time over the water than I expected. I didn't have a window, but according to our flight path we hugged a curved arc around Alaska, across the Bering Sea, and then down around Russia, and finally Japan and China to Guangzhou (near Hong Kong).

Being in China, albeit only at an airport, was for some reason strangely thrilling to me. It's not "exotic" in the traditional sense, but I think that the country as a whole holds a unique place in the mindset of Americans. China is a superpower that rivals us (at least), and our alliance and relationship with them feels like one of necessity rather than similarity of mindset. Definitely the image I had in my mind influenced my short impression of the airport. The sky was gray and polluted. The connecting shuttle felt like it was breaking down, as it bottomed out along the bumpy tarmac roads. There was an overall feeling of cold utility that we tend to always associate with Communism. Obviously that's probably a really culturally insensitive / biased way of looking at a short but pleasant enough experience at an international airport, but hey, it helped make it exciting for me, which is the most important thing to remember.

At the point where we boarded our final flight from Guangzhou to Bangkok, we were both starting to fade pretty hard. It was 23 hours into the travel day. We hadn't slept much, and had been eating airport / airplane food every 4 hours or so and trying not to lose our minds or die of Deep Vein Thrombosis. It was finally dark, which was triggering sleep desire, and as we sat in the airport the humid ninety degree day turned into rain and thundershowers, with lightning lighting up the sky at a constant interval. Perfect time for another flight!

The next 4 hours are kind of a blur, and with a little work I may be able to forget them entirely. As we got strapped in, an announcement came over the intercom. Having English be the third language used was an interesting experience, because as soon as the Thai and Chinese versions were completed, the entire rest of the plane started talking amongst themselves, preventing us from hearing what was said. So for some un-heard reason, we sat on the runway for an hour. In any case, I knew it wasn't a good thing when they brought down the tv screens and started playing a movie before the plane took off.

Three pretty miserable hours later, we landed in Bangkok. Groggy, but in good spirits, we collected our baggage, passed through customs, withdrew some Baht from an ATM, and found a taxi to our hotel. The first of many transporation circumstances (in Bangkok specifically, but the rest of the trip in general I'm sure) where we have to be very focused in not getting taken advantage of. After very nearly paying 1300 Baht ($60ish) for the 25 minute ride through the convenience of using a booking counter, we bailed at the last second and took a taxi for 380 ($11ish) that was every bit as fast and comfortable.

Finally, we had reached our destination. A new day was starting in Portland, and somehow blowing through sleep for that long had passed and we were awake again. We unpacked, showered, and made a half-hearted attempt at checking out the rooftop bar of the hotel before ordering some (reasonably) cheap room service food and drinking two Thai beers from the minibar.

It was not an easy day, but somehow still effortless and a reminder of just how easy it is to get really anywhere on Earth, if you want to go.

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