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Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Fourteen Hour Experience

I boarded my flight for Taipei a little over twenty-eight hours ago, and now I sit down within my Qingdao room reflecting on that incredibly long and actually quite adventurous flight. The flight began boarding at around 5:00 Pacific Time after an hour of delays. The airport experience filled me with a mix of homesickness for my girlfriend and family and longing for the experience of a new, foreign country, new continent, and entirely different world. With the boarding, I was able to fully view and appreciate the magnitude and majesty of the 747 aircraft. The massive complex housed three different sections of economy class along with an upgraded area for first and business class and massive jet engines.

Unfortunately for me, my seat arrangement ended up being situated in the middle of the back port section. Without the same amount of leg room as previously experienced on such a long flight, I realized that this flight could quickly turn into an ordeal. However, I looked optimistically towards the flight hoping to finish Kissinger’s On China and partake in the wide selection of movies that would be available for my selection during the long flight. With a suite of movies and book, I could easily pass the fourteen hours of time traveling while achieving my goal: no sleep until I made it to China…at least no more than a solid hour-long, completely unconscious exhaustion-nap.

While aboard, the stewardesses of China Airlines helped out significantly with headphone devices, complimentary blankets and pillows, along with meals. Funnily, the stewardesses never ceased to address me in broken English whenever I needed assistance even with my humble attempts at Chinese communication. Once we reached our cruising altitude, I decided to start the plane ride off with a comforting movie that would remind me of home: Les Misérables. All of the other Taiwanese adults seemed interested in it too, since almost every screen also was playing the artistic masterpiece that I had come to love. However, unexpected complications would soon interrupt this bliss.

Right after a “Heart Full of Love,” as I paused the screen to inscribe the Chinese characters for the name Javert (I had been pausing the movie throughout to write down many of the characters Chinese like-sounding names), my sections’ movie systems shut down. When we called the stewardess over to assess the damage, she notified us it often occurred during these flights and that she needed to first reset the system. I patiently waited for the system to be reset as we flew across the Pacific. Based off of our internal clocks it was around seven o’clock in the evening based off of the Los Angeles time, so the inflight meals began to be served. While waiting, I prayed a rosary and just enjoyed the fact that I was on my way to China. My meal arrived in the form of a packaged medley of beef stew-like something, a large roll, fruits, cheesecake, and a strange salad of what tasted like sauerkraut vegetables, peas, a lettuce leaf, and a tomato. I consumed it hungrily and thought it exceeded my previous expectations.

Once the meal ended, I drank some hot tea and more water and began reading by the bright sunlight from outside the aircraft. However, after only finishing ten pages, the stewardess returned telling the person seated beside me to close the window. So we closed the window, and I attempted to turn on the light above my seat. But when I attempted to turn the light on, it wouldn’t work due to the same problems which caused my television to fail. Realizing that with the remaining 12 hours, I would lack both a television and manner of reading while trying to remain awake so that I could adjust with minimal jetlag, I began to feel emotions of vexation and anger. In order to calm myself, I counted to six thousand and then decided to explore the entire plane.

I found that there were water-refilling stations next to the stewardess station, and I continued walking along the narrow corridors searching for fellow classmates. I found Evan in the middle of the center section, stuck perpetually on both sides, with his eyes fixed on the television. Maddie also was in the middle of the center section, except her face was cemented against her table. Lizzy was next to the aisle and joined me as I walked around the entire aircraft. We walked up to the curtain of the business class without finding a means of getting to the other side of the jet. We turned around and made it to the back of the plane and walked along a lighted aisle adjoining the two different bathroom sides and crossed over to the starboard side of the vehicle. We walked down an aisle before discovering Garrett who was comfortably lounged at an emergency exit seat next to another bathroom…his television was functional along with his light. We conversed for around thirty minutes; the stewardesses gave us glances but either were too timid to approach us and ask us to return to our seats or we might have been in perfect accordance with the flight rules. After our discussion, Lizzy and I each returned to our seats. I remained in darkness.

The boy to my left was sleeping soundly in the darkness, while the girl to my left watched dance routines and a dance-central movie on her computer. I decided that I would read my book wherever I could find light; however, I wanted to be courteous to my neighbor so I waited for her to finish her movie. In the meantime, I asked the stewardess if she could try and reset the system for my seats again. She tried again to no avail.

Once the dance movie ended, I moved to the back and began to read my book while standing in the lighted corridor pretending to be in line for the restroom but allowing everyone to go before me. Pitiful as it may have been, I enjoyed the moments of reading and realized that it would be easy to continue this for the next tenish hours. Unfortunately, after only finishing about forty pages, the stewardesses began to notice me as being a passenger utilizing the light of a corridor to read rather than the passenger preparing for restroom usage.

After being asked politely to return to my seat, I found the girl to my right to be especially more talkative. Apparently, the stewardesses were exceptionally sorry for the inconvenience and boredom as a result had brought us some apples. While eating my apple, I conversed with the girl next to me. Her name was Jeanne, Julianne, or Joella or some name that began with a J and made logical sense. She attended Denver College and was a dancer there; one of her parents was from Taiwan and the other was American. We then began talking for about another forty minutes since both of us were extremely bored, while everyone else either slept or watched their movies. We talked about Game of Thrones, school, Chinese, the East, food, movies, and many different random things before the stewardess returned to tell us some news:

The stewardess had discovered two separate seats in business class and had decided that she would allow us to move there until breakfast the following morning (which really was night in Taiwan). This elevated both of our spirits as we snuck into our new seating arrangements fully equipped with leg supports, full reclining action, tons of space, fully functional television set, and a functioning lamp! I enjoyed the remaining five hours by watching two movies (including finishing Les Misérables) and reading my book. Towards the end of the second movie, I drifted into a completely unconscious sleep until I was awoken by the stewardess informing me to return to my seat, wherein the now fully lighted seats allowed me to read more of the book.

Breakfast was another interesting combination with rice and beef. Arriving finally at the airport in Taipei brought us to China in the evening. We went through customs, exited the airport, and checked into the hotel, before completely passing out. 

Pictures will be up soon too. Unfortunately, internet is very difficult to come by here so I'm going to be forced to post when I can. Who knew how annoying internet could be. I really hope it all works out. There have been many adventures today too. I'll post again when possible! More adventures to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Shawn Wesley, 加油!!! 一定会越来越好!