Bangkok (February 10, 2010)
I awoke very early, and decided to catch up on some notes and recharging. This always is dangerous because delaying a shower and packing can least to last minute madness. And so it went. Luckily, a few fellow travelers were able to accommodate my overflow of clothing in their duffel bags, so I didn’t need to visit the shrink wrap machine at the airport to improvise a larger bag.
The traffic was awful, but eventually we arrived at the departure level, checked in, and said our goodbyes to Kasma and Michael. While they headed off to visit family, I explored the vast terminal. Passport control and security were easy, but lunch (actually breakfast) was more of a challenge. Nestled in the middle of the walkway lined with fancy duty free shops, and just beyond a nauseating cloud of designer fragrances, was Sushi Koku, a combination Japanese restaurant, bar, and coffee bar. I explored the shops in the designated food wing, but returned here for the sashimi combination with soup and rice. With a pot of tea, it came to about $18; not bad at all by airport standards, where a diminutive half liter bottle of water set me back almost $2.
While I was at the gate making notes on my laptop and posting yesterday’s entry, I recognized Otis from Amarin Thai Cuisine in Mountain View. We briefly compared our recent activities; I’m sure we will be seeing each other at the restaurant soon.
Although I had booked seats in “Elite Class,” EVA’s premium economy class, the A330-200 has only business and standard economy, so I settled into my seat with some trepidation. Fortunately, the knee room was fairly generous, the overhead bin swallowed my carry-on with ease, and the two babies crying nearby eventually settled down. Not long after take-off, we had our choice of chicken with noodles or pork with rice. The ginger pork was a touch salty, but this was balanced by the underseasoned vegetables, so overall not bad. A fruit selection featured three Ps — pineapple, pomelo, and papaya — a combination which seems very characteristic of Thailand. A few rows ahead, a woman traveling with an infant and a young boy placed her meal trays in the bassinet and used it as a serving table.
With individual seatback monitors, and relatively quiet engines, this plane has an unusual tranquility. Perfect for reviewing and editing photos. We touched down early in Taipei; so far so good.
Taipei (February 10, 2010)
With four hours in the airport, the question was not whether to get an order of delicious, juicy xiao long bao, but whether to visit Honbaryu restaurant again prior to departure for seconds. Due to online activities, I never got a second order, hustling to the gate an hour before the flight for possible extra screening (as instructed in email). But there was no extra screening, boarding was orderly, and we soon were airborne again. With an empty seat beside me, I had the luxury of piling up stuff and having an extra tray table. It is good to be in Elite class.
Our first meal service offered a choice of beef with potatoes or chicken and fried rice. The chicken, in a sauce reminiscent of eggflower soup, was very bland, even with the full packet of black pepper. I might have to start carrying chillies in my pack. During the next nine hours I played with the computer a bit, and got some sleep. Eventually I got around to watching “The Invention of Lying” with Ricky Gervais, which at times was quite funny. During the movie, I got neighbors: a flight attendant filled the empty middle seats with a couple whose video monitors were not working at their assigned seats. No problem: just let me figure out how to untangle the blanket from the headset cord so I can get out of the way.
Breakfast brought rice porridge with chicken and seaweed, which was okay. It looked better than the eggs and sausage on the tray next to mine. After clearing, and about 30 minutes before landing, someone announced that we would be stowing all our blankets, pillows, and electronics for the rest of the flight. However, no one seemed to be enforcing this in our cabin, so I have my doubts about whether there actually are new security measures, or whether the goal is just to keep all of us confused.
San Francisco (February 10, 2010)
At some point, we crossed the international date line and re-gained a day. Sort of. Our landing at SFO was smooth, the cell phone picked up where it left off, passport control was easy, and agricultural inspection wasn’t interested in hearing about snacks and candy. Now comes the hard part: changing gears and returning to real life.