SE Asia 2014 Day 28


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December 2nd 2014
Published: December 3rd 2014
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God, does 3 am ever come early! We meet our traveling companions in the lobby. There is a bag breakfast for each of us, which we gulp down on the way to the airport. Interesting to see the lack of traffic at this hour, since Bangkok's highways have always been jampacked before.

Our flight is from Bangkok to Tokyo Narita airport, a nine-hour haul on airline ANA. Little leg room, and I am seated behind a guy who insists on reclining (even after I politely explain the situation to him) and who constantly wiggles and bounces on my two patellas. Thankfully, we have a spare seat in our group of three where I can extend my legs. Otherwise I would have had to move seats.

We have to undergo security checks once again in Tokyo, a huge lineup. I'm guessing the meticulous Japanese don't trust the screening procedures where you came from. 4-hour wait for our flight to Vancouver. It strikes me that we are flying east to get home, and we flew east to get to SE Asia, which means that we have circumnavigated the globe on this trip (again).

I greatly enjoy the enhanced leg room on the next leg (premium economy), which is a relatively short nine hours from Tokyo to Vancouver. We watch movies and cajole the flight attendants into giving us more wine.

Four-hour layover in Vancouver, and then back home safe and sound to Ottawa. A total of 33 hours with virtually no sleep, so we're fairly wrecked, but oh so pleased to finally be home again.

It's perhaps too early for profound thoughts on this journey. However, one impression that stands out for me is that, even though three of the four countries we visited are communist, we didn't find the atmosphere communist at all. (We toured the Soviet Union when it was the Soviet Union, so we can speak with at least some authority.) The dominant mood among the people is very entrepreneurial and, frankly, capitalistic. While remaining keenly aware of their long history and particularly of the tumultuous events of the 20th century, the peoples of SE Asia are looking forward, not backward. They are determined to improve their lot in life and that of their children. They do not generally hold their governments and political leaders in high regard and do not expect them to move things along. They know they will have to rely on themselves.

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