Tag Archives: Airports

Arriving in Paradise

On Thursday afternoon, we left Borneo for the next leg of our Malaysian adventure, our first flight brought us back to West Malaysia (on the peninsula) to Kuala Lumpur. Our second flight brought us to the island province of Langkawi – on the west side of the peninsula just south of the Thai border. Or as I have decided to call it – Paradise.

Mornings in Paradise

Mornings in Paradise

We landed shortly after 7pm and upon arrival looked for our pick up from the hotel. I had called from the hotel in Sandakan, confirmed our arrival time and was told someone would be there to pick us up.

After walking around aimlessly for a bit, John approached a man who appeared to be from a hotel – but was obviously not looking for us – to ask if he knew where we would find our hotel pick up. He turned out to be from the right hotel, but was not expecting us. Our phone call had not been communicated – but luckily he was there already.

With him was a woman who (when realizing we were staying at their hotel) offered us cold wet towels. A minute later, the general manager of the hotel showed up, handed us a card and introduced himself, requesting that we contact him if we ever needed anything during our stay.

Wow – what service. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant for us. HA! A few minutes prior as the plane landed I told John I thought the resort we were flying over was where we were staying. The lady in the seat in front of us turned around and confirmed my observation. She then continued to make small talk, noting that they would be staying there as well.

Our hotel

Our hotel

Back to the general manager – right after greeting us he suddenly rushed away – to greet the woman who we spoke to on the plane, her husband and her son. We were then introduced to her husband – who happens to be the head of the company that owns the resort.

Suddenly, being greeted by the general manager of our resort at the airport made more sense. They began to walk out and we continued to go with them until the original man, who didn’t know he was supposed to be meeting us, told us we had to wait.

Did I mentioned this place was beautiful?

Did I mentioned this place was beautiful?

Apparently, our royal treatment was short lived. They went in their private car/boat while we waited another 45 minutes at the airport for another plane with more guests. Then we were taken to the ferry dok where we needed to wait another 15 minutes for a ferry to take us to the resort.

We stayed at a wonderful resort on a private island off the main island of Langkawi. This sounded fabulous in theory, but in reality proved to be more of a nuisance than anything. Mostly because of the ferry which did not run frequently or even on schedule, and the transfer time that going to and from the island ate up.

Waiting for a ferry to the main island!

Waiting for a ferry to the main island!

It was a long day and we were exhausted by the time we got checked in.


Feast or Famine

(I add this note after returning to the States: Every positive thing I mentioned about flying internationally ONLY applies if you do not take a flight on an airline run by a company based in the United States. The service we received on our American Airlines flight from Tokyo – Dallas was AWFUL)

I don’t know how many of you frequently take domestic flights across the United States, but if you have in the past 10 years or so you probably noticed something about airlines attempts to keep costs, and therefore, prices low for the thrifty American consumer. They have essentially gotten rid of basic nourishment. If you are lucky, on a four hour flight – they may throw you a bag of peanuts.

As a thrifty consumer, I love low airfares. But you know what I hate? Hanger. Not a hanger that you put a shirt on, but my least favorite emotional state – hungry to the point of anger, hanger. Domestic flights within our lovely United States lead us to two options (assuming a connecting flight) while traveling cross country to avoid hanger.

The “oh crap, I have 20 min” option:

You have landed, your stomach growls, the quick change of planes didn’t seem like an issue until you realize you need food. Yet you are in row 23, the dude in row 4 is taking a year to get his oversized carry-on out of the overhead compartment, and you need to be boarding another plane in 20 min.

The solution: Airport fast food – twice the price, half as good. Survey the lines of whatever spattering of quick grab and go options the airport offers, chose based on length of the line not quality of the food, grab your food, shove it in your mouth as you run to your gate.  Just to realize they are still only on priority boarding right as the heartburn hits.

The “4 hours to kill and nothing to do” option:

You meander around the airport checking out every single food option available to you before deciding to splurge on a nice sit down place with a full bar. You finally get seated and order up a $9 craft beer before perusing the menu and deciding to go healthy with a $15 salad. It takes them 30 minutes to get it to you, but those croutons were extra crunchy.

This is called flying domestically. My dearest John is accustom to such flights, which is why he had a valid suggestion when he said, “we should eat” in the Chicago O’Hare airport. He is also accustom to my hanger issues and knows better than to let me go 4 hours without food.

My retort – I’m not hungry and they will feed us on the plane. It was only 10:30am, not quite lunch time. Then again, I had been up at 5am and had only eaten a breakfast sandwich at starbucks at 6:30am. Flight time at noon – we should probably eat.

We did have a delightful (yet overpriced) meal in the international concourse at a little mediterranean place. My $5.99 hummus was more of a snack, while John enjoyed a $10 chicken pita.

Our Chicago – Seoul leg is on Asiana Airlines, a truly delightful airline out of South Korea. (No sarcasm – I’m impressed). Within 30 min of take off we were presented with headsets, for our personal TV screens, and slippers – genius idea – you don’t have to put your shoes on mid flight to use the restroom. Oh, this makes me happy! BTW seat covers, toothbrushes and toothpaste in the lavatory – all great ideas for airlines!

A bag of surprisingly good snack mix came just after my slippers.

Next came our menus – brief descriptions of the choices provided for each of the meals as well as beverage options (all inclusive of course – this is international, baby!) The drink cart arrived shortly, where John indulged in a Korean lager, and I ordered myself a gin and ginger-ale. (Is that a thing? I don’t know, but they didn’t have tonic and it tasted good.)

image

Before I could get halfway through my drink, dinner was served. John decided he was ready for Asia and ordered the Korean option – bibimbap, steamed rice, veggies, minced beef, soup, kimchi, fruit for dessert and a surprise side dish of itty bitty dried fish (eyeballs always included). Lucky John!

Fishy-fishy

Fishy-fishy

I went western, and ordered the steak, potatoes and veggies. It came with a dinner roll, orzo salad and cheesecake for dessert. (Cheesecake is better than fisheyes in my book).

As I sat eating with a metal knife and fork, out of reusable dishes, I remembered why I always feel as if I’m being fattened up on international flights. Have a seat, don’t move for 14 hours, and we will continuously feed you.

If you are thinking airline food is gross and how could I eat it, you need to come fly with me. Cause it’s pretty darn good.

Coffee, tea, then the lights go off and they pretend it is nighttime (when it is 3pm to me) and expect you to sleep. I don’t, therefore, I get to partake in the occasional water, orange juice, another bag of snack mix, and oh… a little ham and cheese sandwich on a roll!

For the second full meal of the flight, John and I both went for the chicken in mustard sauce with mashed potatoes and veggies. Neither of us were excited about the crab salad, but the fruit was good. However, considering the meal came at 1:30am Nashville time, it felt odd to be eating. My body really just wanted some sleep.

But the lights were on, it was daytime in Asia – and we had another layover and flight to catch!


In Transit

I’m sitting in the Vancouver, BC airport.  It is 6:22am, Tuesday in Shanghai, and 3:22pm, Monday in Vancouver.

I woke up over 22 hours ago, stressing, worked up, anxious.  Got everything packed and ready to go.  Had an amazing lunch with a couple good friends and then had a lovely, relaxing, just what I needed, 60 minute massage, before leaving for the airport. (I think I need another one post flight!)

My flight was good, despite only getting about an hour of broken-up, interrupted, uncomfortable sleep, the 10.5 hours went by fairly quickly.

As my plane took off from Shanghai, I was full of emotions.  A mix of emotions.  A season of my life is ending, my life in China.  It was an amazing adventure, an unforgettable 14 months.  I enjoyed life to the fullest, I made connections and friends that I will never forget, I saw so much, learned so much, grew so much.  I’m sad to leave it behind, but I’m excited for the new adventures awaiting me.  I’m anxious to see what is next, where life will take me, all of the new things that are in store.

I felt it was appropriate to update the world on my life from the Vancouver Airport, I do have a history of blogging from this airport.  Normally, it is on my way TO China though, and I’m much more awake and coherent.  One year, two months and nine days ago, I sat in the Vancouver airport awaiting a flight to Hong Kong before my China adventure began, I had just learned of my grandfather’s passing minutes before getting on the plane from Portland to Vancouver and I wrote: Saying Goodbye.  Eight months and nine days ago was the last time I was in North America, as I awaited my flight out of Vancouver, I reminisced on the beauty of my sister’s wedding and my quick two weeks at home in And I’m Out.

Transitions… that is what airports are all about, right?  We think we just transfer from country to country, city to city, gate to gate, plane to plane, but really, we are transferring, transitioning from one journey to the next, one adventure to another. As one chapter of our lives ends another begins, and we find ourselves flying in a new direction, looking towards the horizon, wondering what awaits.

Just don’t forget, there may be long layovers, there may be delays (like my flight outta here), sometimes you may lose your luggage (or your mind) but enjoy the journey – cause sometimes it isn’t all about the destination.


To Shanghai – finally

Well, the time has come – I am finally going to make it to Shanghai, my home for the next year.

Assuming my flight takes off that is. I am currently sitting at my gate in the Hong Kong airport, it is 11am, flight was supposed to be at 11:15am but they are estimating 11:40am… no sign of an airplane.

I had a blast in Hong Kong and plan on posting lots of stories and pictures as soon as I can!


Saying Goodbye, Tears in My Eyes

From Vancouver, BC Canada waiting for my flight to Hong Kong – this post goes to my granddad, Willis Weber of San Angelo, Texas.

My plane from Portland was supposed to take off at 6am.  I had gotten to the airport at 4:15am – checked in, went through security, got some Starbucks and breakfast, sat and chatted with my mom on the phone for about 30 minutes then went to my gate.  They announced they would be boarding us a bit late so the plane could warm up before we got on because it was so cold outside.

At 5:55am, my mom called – strange because we had just talked – but not completely unexpected because I know she loves me.  Her birth father, my granddad, has been in a nursing home because of advanced Parkinson’s since 2007.  The last time I saw him was in March 2009, when he was only able to speak a word or two – sometimes coherently, could not walk or feed himself. I knew then it might be my last time seeing him and he was only getting progressively worse.  In the last couple weeks, he came down with pneumonia and developed an infection in his lungs.  Late last night my mom heard that he won’t recover from it.  He is being sent back to the home he has been in to be put in hospice, he is being taken off his medications and funeral arrangements are beginning.

We all knew it would happen, never knew when but were aware that with each passing day, as my family in Texas watched his health deteriorate, that it was getting closer. I said goodbye to him in 2009, knowing it was likely my last time seeing him and even if I got the chance to see him again –  he wouldn’t necessarily know who I was. I wrote this, ironically, while waiting in the Denver airport, for a connecting flight on the way back from that trip to Texas with my mom.

A shaky hand grabs my wrist

As I lift a cup of water to his lips

Slowly feed him bite, by bite

Try to get past his mouth shut tight

Words of nonsense all around

But from him hardly a sound

Now and then a mumble escapes

Listen intently a word to take

Until the silence comes again

Finally interrupted by a familiar grin

Does he know my face through his blurry eyes?

Does he recognize my voice by his side?

He laughs just as he did before

This ugly sickness came knocking at his door

Never let this memory fade away

But we wish he could stay

Each moment it hurts to see

With the Lord we’re left to plea

Why such a wonderful, charming man

Such a sickness must withstand

I wrap my arms around his body frail

And whisper in his ear I love you

In his own mutter as he exhales

He tells me he loves me too

My grandfather was an amazing man.  I didn’t get to know him well during my life and I didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time with him.  However, the times I did have with him I will cherish forever. He was a truly happy, animated, energetic man with a killer sense of humor. I love you, Granddad, you will be missed.  I hope to see you again one day, in a place where all of our pains and sorrows will have gone away.

 

Granddad's first visit to Starbucks with me in Sept 2004

 

March 2009


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