Published: March 7th 2009March 7th 2009
Woke up in Colorado this morning after a long trip home. Slept well and woke to a gorgeous golden and orange glow coming through the blinds as the sun rose. It was 6:36 am here (11:36 pm in Bali). My body was a little confused.
After traveling for over 40 hours to get home, I was home. I woke in the middle of the night from a deep sleep and was a bit disoriented. So many hotel rooms over the past month left me wondering which direction the bathroom was in? Oriented, it felt like a long walk compared to the rooms I have stayed in. A few steps into the journey, I realized I was feeling something funny, what is this? Oh, I'm cold! I'm back in Colorado? At first, I thought I was in an air conditioned room and needed to turn it down.
I felt refreshed and a bit disoriented when I woke. After meditating my way into the day, I got up and opened the curtains. What a shock it was to see that someone had broken into the world and stolen all the "green"! Yikes! Where did it go?
As I spent my
final days in Bali, I looked around and absorbed as much of the warmth, humidity and color I could. Everywhere I looked, shades of green painted the background intereputed by colorful blossoms. How could have someone taken all that green away overnight? Shades of brown on a cloudy gray day interrupted by, well, shades of brown felt so totally different!
I met a friend for coffee. It was lovely to see her and catch up on her life since I was gone and relate my travel adventures with her. Something felt very strange in the familiar coffee shop. The coffee and company was great, familiar faces stopped by to say hello...what was it?
Suddenly, I was aware: I was inside a closed building! That happened so rarely it really struck me how different it felt to be inside with no opening to outside warm and fresh air. Soon, it will be warm enough to invite that back.
The journey home was long but didn't feel like it. I left my hotel at 5:30 for the airport. The flight left at 8:00 pm for Singapore. I wandered around Terminal 3, the newest Singapore airport terminal. It was amazing
with all the glossy shops and such. I found the butterfly garden and wandered among the sleeping butterflies as it was dark. Gorgeous colors were occasionally illuminated by accent lighting.
Back to Terminal one, I walked past the fern garden, past the orchid garden, through all the shops and headed back toward the sunflower garden. It was on the upper deck and located outside just beyond free movie theater, past the free music and music TV area and just past the passenger lounge area. I paid $8 Singapore dollars to have a shower. By the time my delayed flight left, it was 3:15 in the morning. I'd been on the move for nearly 10 hours.
Once our flight headed toward take-off, I set my stop watch and took a "no jet lag" tablet. It's recommended to take one on take off, landing and every two hours in flight. I wanted to have a simple way to keep track and the stop watch helped. It also gave me a reality check on time as I was passing through so many different time zones. From Singapore, we flew over India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and over Eastern Europe which was cool to
watch on the route map. I realized I was completing a full circle around the world.
Thirteen hours after take off, we had landed in Moscow, gotten off the plane so they could clean and restore everything, passed through the airport where I was the only person wearing shorts (outside temperature was around 14° F), back on the plane and were taking off again. I reset my stop watch.
Approximately thirteen hours later, we were landing in Houston after flying across Northern Europe, Greenland and Iceland, Nova Scotia and Quebec and onward over Michigan.
If you ever get a chance to fly Singapore Airlines, DO IT! They were superb, always helpful and smiling, offered a regular supply of water, orange juice, apple juice and had a galley of snacks for any time you were hungry. The flight to Moscow had Toblerone Chocolate available with meat or vegetarian sandwiches, free drinks including wine, cocktails and beer (I had a Russian beer on the flight to Houston), great food, wine served every meal and an amazing range of entertainment options.
How could I sleep with so many movies to watch? Here's a link to their website to see
what they offered in the form of entertainment including movies, music, TV, documentaries, learning a language, family and kid options, games, etc. http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/en_UK/content/exp/entertainment/index.jsp
Of course, the travel experience changed once I landed in the US. No longer was I in a foreign airport designed for comfort and enjoyment of passengers. Now, I was in the US in an airport seemingly designed to annoy and tire.
Immigration actually went very well! The lines moved quickly and in short order, I was through and on my way to baggage claim. To clear international customs, we had to pick up our luggage, go through another customs area, pass through a door, re-check our luggage and move on to our departure gate. Sounds simple right?
For some reason, they simply don't realize how important it is for passengers to receive their luggage in a TIMELY manner so they can finish the process and complete their journey to the next gate! Bruno (from Mexico City working in banking in Moscow) told me he doesn't think you can get through the process in much less than two hours if you checked luggage. I had 90 minutes: YIKES!
It took me about 25
minutes to get through the first phase of immigration and to baggage claim. Another 25 or 30 minutes to get my baggage and then I headed to a very long line for customs. Through the line, I felt I was nearing the end of the process. Sigh, relief!
Mom made a cover for my backpack so it doesn't get shredded in baggage handling. It works great for that purpose but makes the straps inaccessible. Fortunately, I only had a few feet to carry it on my shoulder (I thought).
Once though the door completing customs, I headed for the baggage check area. A helpful agent asked me what airlines I was flying? When I told her UNITED, she told me they had NO presence here so I had to leave, find the shuttle, go to terminal A, go outside the airport and up to the ticket area.....WAY TO GO UNITED! Why do I ever even bother with you?!!! I'm sending this to them too by the way!
Good think I had all that healing work in Bali and was strong enough for the journey. What faced me next was a daunting line, an inattentive and unconcerned agent
who let my boarding pass sit there for the longest time, a huge line to security with one agent checking boarding passes and a run to the gate with a few minutes to spare. Welcome back to the US!
Were it in Singapore, they would have had a cart waiting at the gate and carried me through the journey.
Flying with United wasn't too bad, not for a tightly packed sardine can. But, to be fair, it wasn't bad, the attendants were helpful and friendly and really, how could anything compare to the Singapore experience? They simply care more than any other airline I have flown with.
Nice to be home. Now, for the adjustment. It'll take a few days and I'll be back in this rhythm here, planning for the next opportunity for going to Bali. Had a friend ask me if I was ready to go back in September?
Just might be!
Below, some photo's of the "green" and colors I just left.
There are more photos below