Land Ho!


Since I know that my faithful readers (all three of you) have been waiting with bated breath (not baited breath, unless you’ve been overdosing on pickled herring) with an update from the far side of the world, here are some brief notes:

There are those who would consider being wedged into a middle seat in the second-to-last row of a fully-loaded 747 (seat number 68F, for those of you keeping score at home) for more than twenty hours to be a unmitigated disaster. I, however, am not one of those pessimistic souls; in fact, I have found four distinctly positive things that recommend the experience:

  1. Being crammed between two total strangers in extraordinarily tight conditions will cause one to reflect upon the nature of global brotherhood (unless, of course, one of one’s neighbors has been getting the ‘extra garlic’ meal option).
  2. Getting up and walking around seems miraculous.
  3. It’s close to the bathroom (except, of course, when your neighbor who is occupying the aisle seat is completely sound asleep and there is no way around him that doesn’t risk serious injury).
  4. And finally, one doesn’t wait so long at the baggage claim to retrieve one’s bags (because, being the second-to-last row in the airplane, it takes 25 minutes to actually get off).

In reality, of course, I spent much of the flight either

  • watching Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman soundlessly save the world over and over again in Paycheck (it does seem to be one of those movies that benefits by not having the sound turned on)
  • listlessly dozing and slipping in and out of a semi-conscious napping state
  • trying to read my book; while it is an excellent book (at least the first 43 pages are excellent), the combination of a full-sized hardback that barely fit on the tray table and the very immediate presence of my seatmates made the physical act of reading, well, difficult at best
  • and, of course, wondering when the guy blocking the aisle was going to wake up so I could go take a leak.

The airport, of course, is a science-fiction wonder (gasp! high-speed mass-transit that takes you directly from the airport to the middle of town in 20 minutes!); at least it seems that way after having to navigate the perils of JFK.

Hong Kong itself seems to be, for the most part, pretty much the same as it was when I left it last (hot, humid, great food), with the exception that there is a faint paranoia about germs and cleanliness; a side-effect from the SARS disaster. In other words, Hong Kong is cleaner than I’ve ever seen it; for those readers familiar with the city, you can imagine what a shock that is. The familiar organic aroma of the city has had a slightly medicinal scent added to the mix, as seemingly everything and everyone has been coated with anti-bacterial cream. It is a bit jarring to eat at a restaurant and discover that the packets of hot towels have been replaced with sterile alcohol wipes…

The office that I’m working in is actually located in one of the city’s nightlife hot-spots; it’s been rather interesting wandering around during the day and seeing what has survived the years and what hasn’t. One of my preferred watering holes, a dark hangout called “Yelt’s Inn” (in honor of the former Russian leader) is no longer, apparently replaced by a bright, Spanish-themed bar. Well, I’ll always have my memories.

There’s not much else to report at the moment; I’m putting in long hours at the office, which is kind of interesting given the whole jet lag situation and the fact that I haven’t slept through the night in more than four days. The good news is that the mental haze lifts significantly with each passing day; the bad news, of course, is that said haze will probably hang around until sometime early next week (peanut gallery: “How can you tell?”).

I did bring my digital camera, but I’m still working the logistics of getting the images out of the camera and into the computer here. It might take a while — accessing the net here involves using a dinky Win98 machine with a propensity to crash at inopportune times. But the photographs will come. I just wouldn’t hold my breath.


Where's your office? Wanchai??

Um, weren't those towels boiled within an inch of their lives? That generally kills them there bacteria....

I was sitting in the middle of a 747 row recently. Although I was traveling with the person on my left, the aisle seat was occupied by a stranger. I hate playing the "get up when he/she gets up" game. I was thinking about walking over her on the arm rests but wondered if the flight attendant would tazer me.

I hear there's a guy fencing 8 megs of hot RAM over at the Chat.

Oops, wait, was that the wrong country or just the wrong decade?

They're not interested in the bacteria on the towels; they're interested in the bacteria on your hands...

Yelt's Inn is gone?! Oh man. I really liked that place.

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