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October 14, 2015

A Trip to Die For Almost

Tom McLaughlin

Seattle, Washington – It was a terrible flight. A long, hard and uncomfortable journey to the states. It was the first really bad one we had while travelling to America.


I booked the tickets several months ago on EVA Air, the Taiwan carrier. The cost was only $1,300 per person, a real bargain for a round trip journey. Usually it's about $2,500 or $2,600. I asked around and everyone said the airline was a good one.


We left Kuching on Malaysian Airlines in large cushy seats and delicious meals. It was more expensive than Air Asia, the discount airline, but by the time you added in $25 per bag, surcharge for credit card usage, $10 for seat assignment, it was just a few dollars more for the full service carrier. A nice journey across the Pacific, or so I thought.


We had a layover at Kuala Lumpur and then boarded our five hour flight to Taiwan. The seats were like those pads you throw over beach chairs, very thin. And there was no screen for inflight entertainment. This upset my four year old son Dzul, who had expected to see cartoons most of the way. We went through about six books during the flight which were supposed to last the entire four week journey. The next 10- hour stage would be better.


We boarded the Pacific flight and the seats were the same. I could not believe it. These small flappers would cushion my tush for 10 hours. I nearly got off, but there were screens for the flight. Only problem was, Dzul fell fast asleep and would remain that way until just before landing.


There were two food services. The first one offered was the ubiquitous chicken and rice, while the other one was seafood. Hating seafood all my life, I ordered the chicken. It was a greyish mass above the rice. I took a couple of forks full and noticed the offal between the chicken and rice. I know it is a delicacy for the Chinese aboard, but my stomach churned around about six times. I put the fork down and looked for the sea sickness bag. After recovering, I did eat the cake and the veggies, after removing the pork. I do not look forward to the return journey.


We landed and cleared immigration and customs without a problem and in record time. The problem was that it was 11:00 at night. My wife and Dzul had slept soundly and were ready for action. All three of us battled jet lag, the worse I have ever experienced.


I had my juices all worked up for a T-bone steak for about three months prior to departure. We walked the two blocks down to Denny's and ordered them. They were "alright" on scale of 1-10 about a three. We spat uneatable pieces out, but, still, it was so good! I also had an ice tea without sugar. I know this may sound trivial, but it's the small things one misses most about the states.


Having been in Seattle before, we did the downtown very quickly and then took the ferry to Braemar, It was a fantastic ride across the Sound – sea gulls, cold water, delicious clouds and the cool wind in ones face. We toured the army museum in the town and then returned.


I was a bit turned around when we got off, and there thousands of NFL Seahawk fans marching to the stadium, only I thought they were going to the light rail to get to the stadium. We followed the dark blue and white jerseys and ended up at the stadium. We finally asked how to get to the light rail and were directed, quite drunkenly, to the station and home to our hotel.


The game ended in the final seconds when the Seahawks stretched across the goal line while sliding across a bunch of player and the ball got knocked out of his hands at the same instant. It was ruled a touchdown and Seattle won.


...Life is good. . . . .


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