My first trip to Asia -- second trip outside of the U.S. -- is underway. No disasters (ie, lost luggage), just lots of realizing that nothing is intuitive without training. The trays work by different mechanisms on Cathay Pacific's planes, meaning that I fumbled the handle so ineffectively that the woman next to me on the way to Hong Kong had to intervene. They drive on the "wrong" side of the road here (as a former British colony).
Time changes are crazy: my flight left SF at 1:20 am and I was exhausted. Ended up with a window seat as a couple wanted to sit next to one another. Nice. After an hour or so of sleep, we had “dinner.” Then I dozed for about 11 hours of the flight. Then we had “breakfast” (pitch dark still). Then I watched most of the Frost Nixon debate movie. Then we landed in Hong Kong: local time, 6 am. on SUNDAY. Next flight didn’t leave till 9 am. Had plenty of time, even with strange airport employee waving me off in the wrong direction. On that flight, I had a whole row in the middle to myself. And I ate another breakfast. Oh, yeah: if you have a choice of eggs/hash browns/ sausage vs. chicken/noodles on a flight in Asia? GET THE NOODLES. Then we landed in Singapore, local time, noon. Basically, I had a long night and two breakfasts.
Swine flu is freaking people the fuck *out* here: about 2 in 3 people seemed to be wearing face masks (eastern Asians mainly, I didn't see any white folks donning surgical masks). One girl actually had a *hello kitty* surgical mask. And they take your temperature en masse as you enter the passport checking area of the airport (as in, some sort of gun thingy not unlike those used to catch speeders. Strange, right?).
Anyway, the coordinators were right there waiting for me. It is fucking HUMID here. I love the heat, hate the humidity. But whatever, after SF cold for months, it’s kind of nice to have reliable heat. Anyway, we all went to lunch – they seemed worried about my white American palate, so I was told to get American fare or this chicken dish, which I had, along with the various sauces (hot and not). They decided I’m food-adventurous. Finally got settled in the hotel: it’s sweeeet. I’m on the tenth floor, a room with windows and a little nook by the bed.
So the goal for the day was to get on local time. I walked around, kinda disoriented, to the main shopping district, through some parks… Not a lot of white people here. It’s interesting. Then I picked up some food – experimenting with more seaweed… got some cookies I can’t stop eating…a single serve packet of snowpeas (ingenious!). Then I took a swim in the pool, which no one else was in. Then I went down Killiney road for dinner: got green papaya salad from a not-cheap Thai place (don’t want to risk it… luckily they rate the “cleanliness” of restaurants here and post the info). It was SPICY. My mouth was BURNING. Not just the inside, even my LIPS. It was great.
Now one more cookie. And then I think I’m calling it a day. Cuz it’s 8 pm here… but like 5 am in SF.