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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back to the Motherland: Leaving on a Jet Plane

This will be the start of my recap series, and I hope you guys will enjoy it. There might be a lot of words written, but I promise to provide a lot of pictures too!

This journey all started in the beginning of March. I was on the look out for a job with no luck. I had an interview that kept me hopeful, but with the current economy, they had a hard time getting the green light to actually hire. I had waited almost a month with no response. Oddly enough this opened up a great once in a lifetime opportunity to travel back to the motherland with my parents. It was a difficult decision at first. I didn't want to leave Hubby behind for 5 weeks, and I didn't exactly want to spend that time with my mother either. I don't have a good relationship with her, and I have to be patient or else it gets ugly. It had also been two years since I moved out of my parents house, and there was a good reason why I left. Would I be able to spend 5 whole weeks with them? In the end I had to take my chances. It was just one of those opportunities that I had to take, and I'm glad that I did.

beautiful view of the city skyline from Continental's gate at the Newark Airport

This would be my first trip flying outside of the States, and I was a nervous wreck to say the least. I am not a fan of long flights. Short flights even make me feel uneasy, and I find myself always asking, "Are we there yet?" How was I going to keep myself busy for 16 whole hours? That's practically a whole day of being on a plane. Plus the last two flights have been with Hubby, and he would be absent for this trip. The thought of not being with him made me sad.

Once I stepped on the plane, I felt uneasy. I was taken out of my comfort zone. The seating was last minute since my travel agent didn't actually assign me a seat. I was able to sit near my parents, and luckily I was one row in front of them. The man who sat next to my parents noticed that we were together and offered his seat to me. As generous as that was, I was not a happy camper. Sitting next to my mom for the next 16 hours did not sound like much fun. Luckily the flight attendants came by and made sure that everyone was seated comfortably with 2 people sitting in each row of 3. Oddly enough I was put back to my original seat on the plane, and life was dandy again.

The hours crept by slowly, and I kept looking at the time in hopes of it speeding up.. like pressing forward on a remote control. Unfortunately I wasn't so lucky. What's the best form of entertainment? Taking pictures* of myself in the small bathroom of course!

Continental did provide in flight entertainment with the screen seen above. Being totally inexperienced and never having been on an international flight, I was clueless and had no idea how to use the entertainment systems. I even asked my parents who are experienced passengers, and my dad told me to plug in my headset. I tried with no luck. Little did I know that I was plugging my headphones in the wrong jack. Both of my arm rests had an input, and I did not notice the other one. D'oh!

As everyone was having a great time watching movies on the screen, it failed without much warning. Now everyone would be just like me without the entertainment system. I love how it is run by Linux. The flight attendants had to restart the program twice before it started working again. If it did not work the final time, they had planned on turning off the system for the remainder of the flight.

I finally figured out how to use the entertainment system soon after it started working again. I do regret spending so many hours completely clueless. It was now time to catch up! With little sleep the night before my flight, I was hoping to sleep through most of my flight. Back at home I watch "I Love Lucy" every night, and it lulls me to sleep. I was super happy to see the show available and even hoping that it would do the trick to make me pass out like a baby. Unfortunately that didn't work.

I played around some more and enjoyed a few episodes of the "Simpsons" and some newly released movies. I struggled to keep myself entertained for 16 hours. I had problems using my laptop and plugging into the electrical outlets. The ones in my row failed, and the flight attendants were befuddled. Luckily I was able to use the outlet behind me in my parent's row. That is where I first started typing about my not so pleasant plan adventure.

Let me take a break and talk about food. I love food, and I was actually looking forward to my airplane food. Odd, right? I even saved the menus from both of my flights and photographed all of my meals. Hehe. To the left, I had a normal salad with a piece of smoked salmon (yumm). That was accompanied by steak with peppers and mushrooms and rice. The sound of steak enticed me, but unfortunately it was a failure in my book.

I was not so fortunate with my piece of steak. I was only able to eat about 1/4 of the piece because it was mainly chewy and full of tendons. I was so upset and had hoped for a better meal. My parents didn't have the same problem as I did. Dinner was served around 4:30 PM. I wasn't so sure that this tiny meal would last me throughout the night until breakfast.

Luckily there was a snack served at night, and it was much more filling than the previous meal. Pierre's "hand made sandwich" hit the spot. I also enjoyed the yummy ice cream for dessert.

The sandwich looks very normal and not so appetizing, but trust me, it was good. After eating a failure of a meal, most foods taste pretty delicious.

Breakfast was served early in the morning, about an hour and a half before landing in Hong Kong. I was excited for my "Dim Sum" breakfast, but I was disappointed by their version of dim sum. It consisted of one roast pork bun with one sui mai, and one bok choy leaf on top of lo mein noodles. Ick. There was also fresh fruit served along side, and I enjoyed the fruit more than the meal.

Just check out that roast pork bun. It looks like minced up mystery meat in a boa. I always take on a challenge, even when it comes to food. This challenge was not so pleasant, and I could not take more than a few bites.

Overall my flight experience was not that great. I missed Hubby, and I felt like I was alone trying to entertain myself the whole time. I was also an idiot for wearing my sneakers during most of the flight and had circulation problems, which caused intense pain. I couldn't figure out how to solve the problem until the early morning when I finally took off my shoes. Then I was afraid to use the bathroom because I fear going into small cramped up bathrooms in the airplane. I think during the entire 16 hour flight I only went in once... maybe twice if I think hard enough to create that memory in my head. Also sleeping wasn't on my to do list on the flight, and I probably only slept for 2-3 hours combined. Once we landed in Hong Kong, I was eager to get off the plane and finally get situated in the city. I had conquered my first challenge, and I was ready for the real adventure to begin. Little did I know what was in store for me. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

*As you can see in the picture, I brought with me my Sony w50. It's about 3 years old, and I didn't have to worry about it being lost or stolen (bonus!!). It was a great camera for this trip, and I am happy with my pictures. I did some editing in Lightroom to jazz up the photos a bit.

** I had a lot of free time on my trip, and I spent most of it writing a letter to Hubby. It's a 101 page letter typed in Microsoft Word using font Times New Roman, size 11, single spaced. Call my crazy. I'm just glad I was able to record my experience in real time, and it acted more like a journal for me. I'll be including excerpts of it in my entries to give you a better experience of my adventure.


I am currently on the plane. I would be writing this letter the old fashioned way, but typing seems to be easier and faster for me. I am pleasantly surprised by the accommodations on this airplane. There are two outlets for every three seats, and that comes in handy when playing around with the laptop.

The technology on this plane does not want to cooperate with me. I’ve had troubles getting the outlet to function. There’s a green light to indicate that it’s working. When I plug in the laptop, the light disappears, and subsequently there is no electricity running. I asked the flight attendant, and she was puzzled. She asked another flight attendant. They have never heard of that happening. I tried using the other outlet in my row, and again the same problem occurred. I planned on trying back again to see if luck was on my side. My parents asked if I got it running. I told them no. I tried using their outlet, and of course it works. Grr.

...

*In your face, entertainment screen* Yes, that piece of technology decided to go bloop. Now everyone must suffer with me. I wonder when I’ll have to go pee. I’m trying to get myself to watch Bolt, but I’m having a hard time paying attention and not being interrupted by food.

2:33 AM – I feel so miserable right now. My knees hurt like no other right now. It’s one of the worst pains yet, but I have to be a trooper. I have five more hours of pain to bear. I’ve spend the past three hours trying to stay asleep. I wake up every 30 minutes to an hour, and I get disappointed each time I see the local time of origin. I wish time could speed up already. This is the worst sleep ever. I don’t even think you can call it sleep or even a nap. It just sucks. I don’t understand how I’m the only one complaining. I can picture you in my head telling me to take some Advil. I only wish I could take your advice. Too bad it’s in my main suitcase. Stupid me. I’m afraid that the pain will be too much for me to take, and I won’t get through the next five hours. I’m scared that it’s going to make me scream in pain or pass out from the pain. I need you to comfort me.

I expected to get more sleep out of this flight. I also expect the plane to go faster. I guess 556 mph is pretty fast. It’s weird how we fly in a n shape above Canada and through Russia. We’re flying above China now. I thought it would be more convenient to fly straight across the US and the Pacific.

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