I was sitting in a bar in the SFO International terminal with Ashley waiting for our fight to begin boarding, we had Bloody Mary’s in front of us and some decently cooked breakfast and we were staring at the television watching CNN update us on the shooting that just took place that morning at LAX. Helicopters were flying around showing all the action happening live; people were being evacuated from the airport, some being treated at the triage center that has been set up. Police and TSA were yelling commands and securing perimeters. The news caster did not know much leaving most of the footage up for speculation of what was actually going on at LAX. We sat and drank our Blood Mary’s as we watch from our own airport. We do not say much except for a couple of snide comments at the news casters for overstepping their journalistic boundaries by speculating and not giving us just facts. We finished our breakfast, payed the bartender and headed to our gate.
The nerves were finally settling down as I sat in my seat on China Eastern Air. The cabin door closed and there was no turning back as the plane lurched backwards from the gate and found its place in line for take off. Now as you all might know, I love to travel hence the travel blog. The one thing I do not like is flying. Yes I know flying is one of the safest ways to travel, I understand the statistics, I am also a sports man and I know that statistics can often be proven wrong. Even with all the math and science behind the art of flying my mind just cannot or will not accept the fact that this large metal coffin with wings can actually stay up in the air. I mean I know it can; I have flown more times than I can remember. I like to travel though so I push my fear of flying to the side and fiddle with my pocket rosary as we get ready to take off. I know that I just have to get through take off and then don’t have to worry about landing for 14 hours.
The flight was smooth and easy, I was able to get some shut eye. As a six foot one tall male who is all legs it can be a bit of a problem with the seats in coach. They can be crowded and make it difficult to grab some shut eye. As I got into my newly discovered yoga pose with the aid of a muscle relaxant and a beer I was able to get a couple of hours of sleep.
14 hours later we landed an hour early in Shanghai. We found a couple of seats in our terminal and grabbed a bit more shut eye as our adventure had still just begun. Like I just said we landed an hour early so we had about 3 hours to kill in the airport, which is fine for us. I grabbed us something to drink and a can of my favorite type of Pringles, sour cream and onion, which Ashley will tell you that I never go without when I am flying. We begin to wait it out. The excitement is growing as we take turns sleeping so we can watch over our carry ons. As we thought it was time to board an announcement came over the PA letting us know that our flight had been delayed by an hour and half. Nothing is worse than when you feel like you can touch your final destination but they just won’t let you. You become irritated, so you try to breath and be flexible. You think about something else, you fiddle with your bags to make sure that you have everything. You double check, even triple check that you have your passports and your tickets so that when they finally call for you to board you are ready.
We entered into our second metal coffin with wings, this time a bargin version of the first one. This plane looked a bit outdated but the plane was pretty much empty so Ashley and I were able to both get our own rows and lay out. Five more hours is what I kept saying to myself as I waited with Ashley for the take off. I could taste the freedom that you get when you reach your destination. The airport is like a prison filled with obstacles and checkpoints to see if you are worthy to be released back into the society. It is like a traveler’s purgatory. Even sitting in the Shanghai airport we did not feel like we were in a foreign country. We were not free yet, we were still waiting to be judged. Our number was called though and now I was sitting in my seat. Five more hours and I would be released out of this purgatory and into a new world, a new adventure.
As our plane descended over the Kuala Lumpur airport, lightning was flashing outside our windows. My normal fear of landing was gone. Take the plane down and let me out was all I could think. My excitement triumphed over my fear of flying. the lightning just outside my window did not even phase me. Our time in Purgatory was up. we were here. As the plane continued to descend the songs of that ultra poppy band, ABBA, popped into my head. “There was something in the air that night, The stars were bright, fernando.They were shining there for you and me ,For liberty, fernando.“ I have a feeling Mr. Bourdain would be disappointed in me.
The plane had landed, we had our stuff, and made it through passport control and customs. We were there, we were free from our purgatory. We were in our taxi and on our way to our hostel. Yes it was four in the morning on Sunday but we still were there. My mind was trying grasp the fact that we left at twelve in the afternoon on Friday and now it was Sunday morning. The thoughts of how bad the jet lag was going to be started to bounce around in my mind. I stared mindlessly out the window of our taxi as lightning filled the early morning skies and “Fernando” played on repeat in my head. Do not ask me why but it just was.
Ashley and I arrived at our hostel and was greeted by Ashley’s best friend, Christopher. We set our bags in the room and he took us out to get something quick to eat. We found ourselves sitting around a plastic table on a wet and deserted street eating fried noodles with seafood. Do not ask me what seafood as I could not tell you, I think there was some octopus. After a bit of food and some catching up we headed back to our beds to force ourselves to sleep. Now it is nine in the morning and I am ready to go. The Adventure has just started and I am ready!