Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fits and Starts

I prepared for this trip in about the same amount of time as I have my other trips: about 14 days. There was a ton to do, but I have travel prep down to a science. Geeky, I know, but years ago, I took an Expedia spec template and reworked it into a trip preparation template. Now, I just crack the most recent trip open, make some changes to fit the next trip, and I'm on my way.
And, like my other trips, I didn't sleep the night before the flight. I took a 1.5 hour nap, when my eyes just couldn't stay open any longer, but I was looking at about 1.5 hours of 28 between getting up for my last day of work and my flight's intended departure.
Intended is the key word, because my flight was delayed an hour for a mechanical inspection. And then another hour, and then another. And I tried my damndest to keep my eyes open but was really struggling... I had to ask an attendant to keep an eye on me so that she'd wake me if the flight ever did leave.
We were told that the repairs on our intended plane would take numerous more hours, so we were to be transferred to another plane at another gate. Which was easy enough, except that it too needed to be inspected and repaired, and was delayed repeatedly as well.
After so much sleep deprivation, the brain moves into some odd territory. As I tried to manage moving from one gate to another and negotiating for a phone card and trying to work out the logistics of my delay, I began to have small hallucinations. Little furry animals that didn't really belong in the airport were catching my attention from the corner of my eye. My brain was moving incredibly slow, and figuring out who to call, when, and what to tell them was a feat of its own. My reliance on my cell phone bit me in this situation as I realized the only phone numbers I know by heart are my parents'. I should really jot down a few other numbers in case my return flight is as messed as this one.
A friend and coworker, Linh, had offered to pick me up at the airport and get me a train ticket, so I needed to communicate to her that I wouldn't be at the airport when she expected. The train ticket would need to be rebooked, and I had no idea when I would actually arrive in Beijing. I had to have my parents send an email to her just saying I wasn't going to be there on time.
Eventually, I boarded a plane, leaving the small furry animals behind in Seattle, bound for Tokyo. After clearing immigration and picking up an unintended Japanese stamp, we were guided to a set of buses waiting at the curb. Business class went to a Radisson, and we coachers were headed to a Hilton. Hiltons are generally nicer than Radissons, in my experience, but the disparity became self-evident as we drove 1.5 hours from the airport to the hotel. The hotel was incredibly nice, and situated in proximity to Tokyo Disneyland, but there was no time to explore Tokyo or Disneyland. I had just enough time to work through getting a laptop, sending an email to Linh, thanking my parents, enjoying the heated, fully-automated toilet, and getting a few hours of sleep before the bus left again at 6AM. And of course my flight left at 10:30 so I was getting up at that ungodly hour for no reason of my own. And while I specifically changed my wakeup call from the default 4:30 to 5:30, it still rang at 4:30 and I didn't realize it was an hour early until I was halfway dressed.
The fun continued as I finally arrived in Beijing, was unable to find Linh, had to buy a phone card only to find her mobile phone just rang without a voicemail, had to wait 45 minutes for a seat at the only internet cafe (people here seriously seem to be here just to use the internet: no one's catching a flight, they are all just dinking around on stupid anime games) and finally, after god-only-knows how many hours of travel and running around, I finally found Linh on instant messenger. I haven't asked her yet, but it sounds like she never got any of my emails. I was able to communicate only for a few minutes until I inadvertently switched into Chinese characters and couldn't figure out how to switch back. So I had to start communicating with emoticons, which Linh thought I was doing to be funny:

Linh in Beijing 说:
is there another time?
Adam 说:
哦呢民
Adam 说:

Adam 说:
阿斯阿斯纳斯阿
Adam 说:
????
Linh in Beijing 说:
huh?
Linh in Beijing 说:
i can't read. duh
Linh in Beijing 说:
i'm all talk
Linh in Beijing 说:
hahaha
Linh in Beijing 说:
ok. gotta get back to my meeting.
Linh in Beijing 说:
driver is going to call again for me to give him better info on you. simultaneously, i have them getting you a new ticket. you know how to get back to my house.
Linh in Beijing 说:
cool.
Adam 说:

Linh in Beijing 说:
glad you got online
Linh in Beijing 说:

Linh in Beijing 说:
i was worried about you.
Linh in Beijing 说:
funny
Adam 说:
! ! !
Linh in Beijing 说:
ok. bye
Linh in Beijing 说:
hang tight there
Adam 说:
ok sorry, I couldnt get it to type english, so was trying to communicate with emoticons. Attendant just helped me. ok, thanks for taking care of me! I will aim to be at the starbucks in about 45 mins unless you say otherwise. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Whew. So I am finally off to meet a driver who should take me to Linh's apartment. So far, my well-oiled machine of travel has been off to a sputtering start. I really hope that my next post isn't a mundane retelling of nightmare airport stories like this. But there is definitely room for more error: last night from Tokyo I IMed George to tell him that I would be a day late. I think the message got through, but there was apparently a fair amount of booze present and multiple people claiming to be him using the keyboard, as every other sentence from him was about how much he enjoyed munching men's nuts. Let's hope I do actually make it to Jinan and have someone to fetch me from the station.
And let's hope my next posting is about motorcycles, fortune, and glory, rather than tired, tardy and tense.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah but tired, tardy and tense has a nice roll to it. :-)

Glad to hear that you are alive and intact.

Could we have pictures to go along with the stories?

8/08/2006 4:57 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home