Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 20 2010

A Day at the Airport

February 14, 2010

I got out the door this morning in time to catch the high-speed train to Taoyuan. From there I took the shuttle bus to the airport with Chenbl.

We were early, however, and had to wait for the Asia Air check-in desk to open. When it did, we lined up, waited, and finally got to the counter, where Chenbl placed a large box o’ things on the rollers. Only after we’d checked it did the clerk deign to inform us of a tiny change in the time of the flight to Kuala Lumpur; it was now over five hours later, thanks to “snow in Hangzhou,” which has got to be a metaphor for something.

What does one do at an airport for half a dozen hours? We pondered this over lunch at the mezzanine-level Burger King, eventually deciding to spend the time at one of the many airport lounges on the second floor.

The lounge, called “The More,” had massage chairs, the really violent kind that lift you up and throw you around for a while. It also had steamed sesame baozi as well as a Wii set so I could trounce Chenbl in baseball, tennis and bowling. He beat me in boxing, though; I simply don’t have the patience for it. I had some toast with that ugly yellow Anchor butter that smells like Austalia, then took a nap in a small dark room just for that purpose, followed by a shower before it was time to go downstairs to the concourse. There, I failed to find any of the supposed wifi signals that were advertised, seriously considered buying a Futurama comic and watched PS3 games. I also came close to buying, at a ridiculous price, a Canon S90, as the Sony Handycam I’m using on this trip is too large, with insufficient zoom and iffy focusing. I miss using a point-and-shoot for these things. Well, next time.

Asia Airlines doesn’t have any actual staff in Taipei, so the flight was handled by Eva staff, who were apologetic about the meager lunchboxes they were handing out in “compensation” for the delay. When we got aboard, though, I was impressed with the black-leather seats accented with deep red seatbelts and carpeting. Very swank, as if Sharper Image had designed the place.

Unfortunately, the seat in front of me looked as if someone had forgotten to clean up the vomit from the last few trips. A few seats up a woman was clipping her fingernails. I wondered how she’d gotten nail clippers aboard. The seats themselves don’t recline; instead, you can slide the bottom part forward, reducing your own knee space instead of that of the person behind you. Clever, I suppose, albeit in a rather nefarious fashion.

The on-board system advertised all the great movies and TV shows and music, etc. All for a price. The only free thing that was vaguely tempting was the chatroom, where I tried and failed to instigate a mutiny from seat 47K. “Facebook of The Skies” it wasn’t. Krispy Kreme donuts were also advertised, and of course I had to get a couple; they turned out to be about as appetizing as Mister Donut products or cardboard. The dinner itself, bbq chicken, wasn’t very good, and the staff were not very helpful either, disappearing after the meals were out to the back room of the plane where they presumably had a poker game or something, because we didn’t see them for the rest of the flight. This left me free to take prohibited pictures of the interior and the huge sprawl of Ho Chi Min City as we flew overhead.

When we finally landed at Kuala Lumpur, we had to disembark via staircases, a la 1960’s presidents, and walk across a great length of tarmac to get to the airport itself. The lines inside were long, but we got through soon enough, to be greeted by one of the Malaysian fellows who visited Taiwan a few months ago. It was fairly hot and muggy; Chenbl had started sweating almost immediately after disembarking, but it took me a while before I felt the heat.

I’m now at the high-rise apartment of another one of the Malaysians, in the living room typing on my Thinkpad while Chenbl watches Chinese New Year variety programs on TV.

posted by Poagao at 8:06 am  

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