This time, my destination was Danang, Vietnam, a mid-sized port town on the South China Sea in a sleepy communist country. Spurred on by a chance to see my third born who has been living abroad for almost a year, and the promises of delicious southeast Asian cuisine, I packed my suitcase, took a deep breath, and began my global journey.
^ Packing up for an intercontinental trip is always a delicate balance between cramming in everything I might ever dream of needing plus the kitchen sink versus carrying only the bare essentials and trusting good karma to see me through.
^ I generally lean toward the good karma end of the spectrum but this time I brought along maple syrup, boogie boards, and a block of cheddar cheese. The latter did not fit into my already-jam packed suitcase but I did manage to find a few spare cubic centimeters in my handbag. Carry on then.
^ For the first leg of the journey, my second -born and I hopped a little puddle-jumper and flew a hundred mikes north of Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, also known as Canada. We waited several hours as a crowd of Asian-headed travelers accumulated, and then we streamed onto a half-filled jumbo jet, stepping quietly past a cabin full of already-sleeping passengers who had boarded at JFK and had already flown across the continental US to pick us West Coasters up.
^ Twelve elapsed hours and who knows how many time zones later, we dropped out of the skies and our groggy half-sleeping stasis to an early morning in Hong Kong. With our feet back on the ground, we first sought the essentials: Starbucks fir my daughter and a Diet Coke for me. Thus sustained, we were ready for anything.
A few shots from our ten-hour layover:
^Snacks at Starbucks. The round marble table and hipster chairs were a lot more satisfying than the mushy sandwich but that's okay.
^ I'm always intrigued by airport restaurants that are obviously trying to appeal to American aesthetics. This cafe has a fun little bistro vibe and I especially enjoyed the modern take on Asian painting.
^ The day had been sunny and clear...until the time finally came for us to board our plane. Then the dark storm clouds descended, thunder and lightning cut loose, and the rain pored down.
But no problem, right? That's why jetways exist...so passengers can board their planes in comfort no matter what the weather.
Wrong. We didn't board our plane through a jetway. Instead, we were herded onto a bus and handed a square packet of plastic. But what is it?
A rain poncho. Uh oh.
^ Gamely, we donned our stylish rain wear as we cruised across the tarmac.
^ And then we were escorted off the bus. Outside the wind blew sideways and whipped our ponchos into thrashing plastic tornadoes. I dashed up the steps and ducked into my plane in record time but a few seconds in the storm reduced me to a disheveled soggy mess.
^ Still, the cozy cabin was comfortable and dry, and I was soon happily snapping pics of the wet world outside.
^ Shortly after takeoff, the storm clouds gave way and we were treated to views of the green tropical waters south of Hong Kong.
^ And we were delighted to see jeweled green islands, much like the ones we saw from our first leg of the trip over our home state of Washington.
But despite the similaritues, there was no doubt that this was a whole new world. I had crossed the Pacific once again and my new Asian adventure had begun.