Location: Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Bloomington, MN
Time: 8:50 p.m. Central US time.
After a very satisfying dinner with the family at Texas Roadhouse (my traditional pre-departure and post-return dining location), my parents drove me to the airport. I had a margarita with dinner but it did nothing to calm me down. I’m not nervous, I don’t think, but I am jittery as anything. I feel like I did every day of Chinese class at 11:50, when it felt like class should be over but we still had 15 minutes to go. I’m done counting down the days and hours left and home, but my getting-to-China countdown is still over 24 hours!
Location: flight 881 over Los Angeles, CA
Time: 2 a.m. Pacific time
Once I got through security and onto the plane, I calmed down a lot. They had a movie – My Life in Ruins – which I watched, but I mostly slept. The flight was a little longer than I expected (I guess Minneapolis is further from LA than Tulsa?), but really, what difference does an hour make in a trip like this? LAX was a little frustrating, but once I was in the capable hands of Peong, my Cathay Pacific attendant, everything was okay. I felt even better once I got on the plane. The man next to me (actually, the man one seat away, thanks to my buddy Peong who put me in a window seat next to no one) told me that Cathay Pacific is the best airline in the world. The claim doesn’t seem too outlandish yet. We have individual screens without probably 100 movies (even 3 that I want to watch!), animated videos of our plane making the trip from LA to Hong Kong, actually comfortable seats, power outlets below the entertainment console, and complimentary wine with the not-bad meal.
Location: a ??? somewhere over the Pacific
Time: The only time that means anything is 8 1/2 hours in, 6 hours to go.
Going through LA, and therefore adding a third time zone into the mix, jumpstarts the confusion over the seemingly-simple question, “What time is it?” All I know is, I did Monday Night Prayer and it is dark outside. I’ve slept a lot, watched Little Miss Sunshine and am now starting He’s Just Not That Into You.
Location: Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong SAR
Time: 8:00 a.m., Beijing time.
Flying, especially across the vast, featureless Pacific, is an adventure out of time. We were flying west, and it took a while for the sun to catch up with us, so it was dark for almost the entirety of the trip. The sun rose around 4:30, and I did Morning Prayer (from Wednesday) while enjoying the colorful sunrise. I’m not exactly sure what happened to Tuesday, because I thought I had it figured out . . . I watched 17 Again and slept a bit more. I haven’t had a good stretch of sleep in a bed in about 48 hours, but I’m not feeling too bad. I think my body could possibly even believe that it is 8 a.m., with a long day ahead.
So, basically – I made it across the ocean, but I’m not technically in China yet. (Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region or, as I call it, “kind-of China”.) Hong Kong doesn’t seem like China anyway. Everything is in English with Chinese as the second language – so basically, just like LA. There are touches of America (the Starbucks a few gates down) and some things that seem foreign, if not Chinese (the moving walkways are on the left, not the right). My flight leaves in an hour or so, but until then I’m enjoying the free wi-fi. I’ve even talked to my parents and my aunt on Skype!