I’m at Seattle airport. The security process was pretty normal, and with the summer travel season over, the airport is not too crowded. Of course it could be due to it being Sept 11 as well.
I thought I would post a picture of an intrepid traveler other than ME this morning .. found his picture at one of the pubs here in the airport. Frank Dorbandi, Teller Alaska. So Teller is a location in Alaska? Yes, see the spot marked A on the Google map! Intrepid* indeed! with the year being 1929 and with a flying machine that could hardly be called an aircraft.
*Intrepid -characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude and endurance : )
I am checked in already for my flights to San Francisco and Hong Kong. I leaving tomorrow morning. Yes – Sept 11, not the best day to fly I would imagine! – but I have to be at Daya Bay on Monday morning.
A neighborhood right by the San Francisco International airport is in the news this morning. A natural gas explosion started a fire that destroyed about 50 homes. At least one person was killed and more than 20 others injured.
The two pictures below the one of the fire were taken with my new camera in Seattle’s SoDo (South of Downtown) neighborhood this morning. The Komodo dragon is at Starbucks headquarters, and the mural from a grocery store on 4th Ave close by. Click on them to blow them up .. the truth comes out then, which is that the compact camera has a much smaller sensor than an single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, and therefore it cannot possibly match the detail of an SLR’s pictures.
I am home! The first picture was taken shortly after take-off from San Francisco (see the red Golden Gate bridge? No? Click on the picture to enlarge it !). The second picture is again from my airplane seat, just as we stopped at the gate at Seattle airport. I thought : better take pictures of these United Airlines planes since the merger with Continental Airlines has been approved, and their logo will disappear from airplanes.
I am sure there are many songs referring to San Francisco, but Scott Mckenzie’s about wearing flowers in your hair is my favorite. (Even though my hair is too short and I have no flowers to put in them. And I’m only touching down there en route to Seattle!).
So yes – I am at the airport. Inquiring about the flight status and the weather at check in, I was told ‘No sir, there is NO problem with the weather. The typhoon might not even come here.’ Well, I think it’s good that I am not sticking around to find out.
If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there
For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair
The typhoon is still some 400km (250 mi) away and is moving very slowly, so I hope I will be able to fly out in the morning. There is no breeze at all (the calm before the storm?), so the air quality and visibility is poor. The picture is from the border crossing at Shenzhen. I had dinner here at the Hong Kong Skycity Marriott hotel and then ventured out on the metro to Tsing Yi station. I used the fast airport line which goes at a good clip but which also costs a little more. (You are assumed to be Mr Businessman. Time is money!).
The moon cakes are sold at Starbucks at Tsing Yi station. My driver today told me to get some .. these are Chinese pastries with fillings, traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival which is coming up later in September.
It’s the 31st! The month of August* is on its way out .. and it looks like I might have trouble finding my way out of Hong Kong on Thursday. The typhoon is twisting towards Hong Kong !
*and do you know the meaning of the word august? it’s ‘marked by majestic dignity or grandeur’
Severe Tropical Storm LIONROCK
at 17:00 HKT 31 August 2010
( 20.6 N, 118.4 E,
about 480 km east-southeast of Hong Kong )
Why does it seem to me every time my travel back to the USA comes due, a typhoon is approaching? (I am scheduled to leave on Thu morning). This one is called Lionrock, named after a famous hill in Hong Kong. It is located in Kowloon and is 495 metres high. We drive though the Lion Rock tunnel on our way to Hong Kong on Fridays.
From Wikipedia : Lion Rock is famous for its shape and is visible from various places in Kowloon; its resemblance to a crouching lion is most striking from the Choi Hung and San Po Kong areas in East Kowloon. A trail wends its way up the forested hillside to the top, culminating atop the lion’s head. The trail can be followed across the profile of the lion, eventually linking up with the MacLehose Trail. The rock provides a beautiful view of the city and Hong Kong Island in the distance. The entire hill is located within Lion Rock Country Park in Hung Mui Kuk, Tai Wai and is made passable by vehicles by Lion Rock Tunnel, which connects Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai.
Saturday morning we took the Star Ferry from Hong Kong island to Kowloon. It’s a quick 10 minute crossing, mostly for tourists. The metro or the traffic tunnels under the harbor is a much more efficient way to get across! The sky was hazy .. not as clear as Friday.
We found this painter in Kowloon Park, and the Chinese banyan is from Nathan Road right by the park. We stopped at a coffee shop for lunch.
Saturday night three of us from work went to the Pacific Place mall to go to Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill for some American comfort food. The menu says Warning! We serve American-sized portions. A young Asian couple that sat across from us ordered one item from the menu and shared it. The neon sign is from Tsim Tsa Tsui district, my favorite night-time haunt in the city where I went after dinner.
In the first picture I pose with those same cumulus clouds I saw from my hotel room earlier – this time from The Peak’s observation deck. (The clouds seem to look down and laugh at the so-called skyscrapers far below). After dinner I went for a walk-about in Central district on Hong Kong Island. Those are the tops of the Bank of China building, the Citibank building and the HSBC building. The stone lion is from the front of another bank building nearby and that’s a lion cub under the lion’s paw. ‘The Stool Pigeon‘ is a new locally -made movie that started showing, about the police and informants. (See the reflection of the name of a famous South African diamond company in the picture?). Then I went over to Kowloon and stalked this Lamborghini in the late-night traffic on foot until I could take a picture of it. Moments later the light turned green and it was gone with a roar.
It’s a gorgeous day in Hong Kong with puffy cumulus clouds out over the harbor. I’m working from the hotel room .. but my colleague Vic and I want to take advantage of the weekday this afternoon to take the Peak tram up the hillside overlooking the city. The brand-new 110 story International Commerce Center building has not yet opened its observation deck – they will do so by the end of the year, says the website. Now back to work !
It was very warm out today .. the public service banner does not say Beware of heat stroke for nothing ! (Isn’t the dog with the flapping ears cute?) It is so humid along with the heat. My camera malfunctioned on Saturday – the shutter started firing uncontrollably as soon as I switched the camera on. Today the problem was gone, but I read in the Sunday newspaper this morning that many iPhone users in Hong Kong have reported problems related to the 95%+ humidity in the city.
The self-picture is from the MTR station at Wan Chai, and there is a guy on the on-coming tram taking a picture of me taking a picture of him : ).
I posted pictures of the proposed livery for airplanes of the merger between Continental and United Airlines about a week ago.
Then yesterday I got pictures from a friend showing the livery for Kulula Air’s airplanes. (Kulula is South Africa’s low fare airline). The pictures are all from their website at kulula.com. It shows their route map, the flying 101 plane, the camo plane, the daylight savings time plane (the airline is campaigning for daylight saving time in South Africa), the jet setter plane and the this way up plane.
These pictures from Saturday .. the trams on Hong Kong Island are always fun to watch, all of them decked out in attractive artwork. I thought this next one was a martial arts picture but no, it’s the billboard for Step Up 3D, a dance flick. The giant cutie pie doll is from a Japanese store window in Harbour City shopping mall. Basketball player Yao Ming left big shoes to fill – this is in a sporting goods store in the same mall, as is the Tag Heuer watch. I drooled at it inside the store, but it is too expensive to buy! – about US$3,000.
While I was checking out at the Marriott hotel on Sunday, the giant touch screen’s headline ‘Hooker advances in pole vault‘ made me look twice. (Hooker is an Australian athlete). Next one – we accidentally found our own company’s offices in Hong Kong’s Central district in a building where we stopped for lunch.
The final three pictures are artwork from Times Square mall in Causeway Bay. No, I didn’t upload the picture with the bronze figures with distorted pixel dimensions. I’m really not sure how the artist made real three dimensional figures with distorted proportions. Same for the girl at the mailbox – it is as if her image was distorted by a curved mirror. Finally, check out the very very creative use this artist put rubber tire shreds to. A mean muscular black rhinoceros!
We arrived early at Hong Kong airport and the driver did a great job getting me through customs and Shenzhen evening traffic to get me to Dameisha in under two hours. The first picture is of the Hong Kong-mainland China border crossing just at sunset.
At the apartment I had to run out to get some milk, ended up buying some jasmine tea and iron buddha tea. (I will need it to perk me up tomorrow). The brand of the tea is Lipton. I thought Lipton was an American brand, but I see Lipton was created at the end of the 19th century by Sir Thomas Lipton in Glasgow, Scotland. His enterprise soon flourished and he established a chain of grocers, first across Glasgow, then the rest of Scotland, until finally he had stores throughout Britain. Today the brand belongs to Unilever.
Yes, here he is, all smiles, the globe trotter waiting for his flight to San Francisco. My flight to San Francisco is delayed slightly, but I should still be able to make my connection to Hong Kong.
Tip to summer travelers : allow one more hour to get through security. The clock ticks and those screaming babies in their strollers and those first-time travelers with liquids hidden inside their maximum-size carry-on bags WILL trip you up and make you miss your flight. What is going on up there? Why are they so slow? the people behind me kept asking. Well – you are asking the wrong question, I thought. Why did you get here so late?
Yes, I’m counting them ! I’m flying a familiar route on United, down to San Francisco and then out due west to the Far East, across the International Dateline. The picture is from www.flightstats.com and I just punched in the flight number – the same one I will be on tomorrow.
So it’s a hive of one-man activity here, up and down the stairs to get the laundry, then out the door to run an errand, and start packing my bag. I have a checklist for the small roller bag, a check list for the computer bag and an out-the-door checklist for tomorrow morning. Yes sir! it helps to calm me down.
Here’s the out-the-door check list :
- Adjust thermostat
- Windows, doors closed, LOCKED
- Lava lamp OFF
- Clothes iron OFF
- TV, Computer UNPLUGGED
- Garage LOCKED
- Fridge perishables OUT
- Garbage OUT
- Inside Lights ON
- House alarm SET
My travel back to China has been pushed out by a week, so that I can attend corporate training here in Seattle. I see United Airlines and Continental Airlines will merge towards the end of 2010. It’s a ‘merger of equals’. But what will the new planes look like? Well, below is an artist’s rendition. (It wasn’t me spending two hours Photoshopping!) The Continental gold and blue graphics will be kept and be replaced with the word United – so the new airline will be called United Airlines.
And here they are : the blank visa pages. They were stitched into the middle of the passport, and are numbered A through X. I show my two favorite ones : on old sailing ship at sea and the Statue of Liberty.
I work on a project that I call Mission Impossible, and therefore I run into mission impossible situations in the week I am at home as well.
For example : get more blank visa pages added to your passport in ONE WEEK. It’s harder than one would think. The city agencies dealing with passport applications offer a THREE WEEK expedited service. When you finally find out you’re lucky enough to have a federal agency right here in your home city, it may take three visits there as it will for me. The first one was to fill out a form (after committing the mortal sin of showing up there this morning without an appointment). Also needed is proof of one’s travel plans in the next two weeks on paper. Yes : got to print out that electronic airline reservation. But no printer for US citizens’ use in the passport office. I had to try my luck at the Seattle library (picture below from the inside – pretty! but one printer for 200 people, didn’t work) and then at Fedex-Kinko’s (you pay $6 but it’s so quick).
So there I was, sweaty from running/ walking a dozen blocks back and forth across Seattle downtown, through the security check point, back at the appointment window in the federal building. No luck, too late to help me at 2.45pm. Got to dial that 877 number, it’s the only way to get an appointment. (Did that. Got an appointment for tomorrow at 8 am).
I made it in around 2 pm Seattle time. The picture is from San Francisco airport, and my plane looked the same as the one through the window.
The flight from Hong Kong got in a little late, so I had to hustle to make the connection to Seattle in San Francisco. USA regulations make international arrivals pick up their arriving luggage and go through security again. And the later you are, the longer the line is, and the slower it moves – Murphy’s Law applied to airports?