It takes an awfully long time to travel to the other side of the world.
I think “exhausted” is probably the best word to describe the first few days of my trip: exhausted from packing, exhausted from saying goodbyes, exhausted from sitting in planes and waiting in airports, exhausted from being short on sleep for so many days.
But as stressful as it all was, I couldn’t help but just be amazed by everything. This is the country I’ve been pointing out to everyone on a map for the last eight months! And I’m HERE. I keep picturing a globe and imagining myself standing on this little island. I wish I could wave to you all from an atlas. I can hardly believe it.
All right, getting here. Where to begin? We left our house in Bucyrus at about 8:00am for my flight in Columbus that left just before 11:00am. I got to Jakarta two days later in the afternoon sometime. At least I think. It felt like one really long day to me.
My planes when like this:
Apparently there’s something about Fulbright having to use American airlines as much as possible, so there might be a more direct route if I were buying my own ticket.
One girl was joking that she brought eight movies with her. I’m ashamed to even say how many I packed, but let’s just say it rhymes with shmore than smforty. Hey, the West Wing alone is like 25.
They showed about four movies on the 15-hour flight to Hong Kong, and I watched parts of two of them. For the most part, it was completely bareable. I lost my cool once when I couldn’t get comfortable for anything. I saw a woman who had three seats to herself get up and take her bag. She didn’t come back for at least 20 minutes, so I stole her seat. Turns out, she DID remember where she was sitting, and I was soon back where I started. You would think that such long flights would at least earn you a little extra legroom, right? No way. At least I’m short.
I sat next to a nice Vietnamese guy who promised he’d give me a free manicure and pedicure the next time I’m in Naples, Florida. It didn’t occur to me until I’d gotten some sleep that saying, “Oh, I just took a class on the Vietnam War!” is not an appropriate way to begin a conversation with someone from Hanoi.
All the drinking fountains were shut off in Hong Kong because of the threat of Swine Flu. We saw a lot of people wearing masks. At first you think they look silly, and then you begin to wonder what exactly you’re inhaling that they’re not.
Did you know that alcohol is free on international flights? I got a white wine; isn’t that fabulous? I quickly toasted my bravery, and then nearly had a panic attack thinking about what it was that made me so brave.
That’s been a reoccurring theme: don’t think in terms of nine months. I’ve been so lucky to have access to the internet so far. I’m trying to just focus on this whole trip one day at a time.
More on Jakarta to come.
Hey, thank you for reading this.