Im sure as hell not in Kansas anymore. A midnight flight proceeding some hard goodbyes and a last celebration left me to have deep reflections as I waited at the gate. My strategy for the 22 hour flight was a few Benadryl chased by some free international flight boxed wine, it did the trick. I woke up somewhere over Alaska headed towards the Baring see and down the east coast of Russia. Not even the heavy turbulance we apparently hit was able to bring me out of my self medicated coma. I will say 8 hours sitting upright will put more knots in your back than an OCD sailor.
I spent the remaining 6 hours staring blankly at other passengers around me, one chubby baby with the rings around its wrists and an adorable tuft of hair kept me busy as I made faces at it. Had one of those smiles that is contagious and immediately wins you over. (Still couldn’t tell if he/she was a boy or girl).
We decented from our cruising alititude, and for every thousand feet we dropped the temp rose. From -50 degrees up to 88 as we touched down my glasses began to fog as the plane depressurized. Walking through the Taipei airport felt something similar to a 12 year old Japanese girls room. Hello Kitty fucking everywhere. walls, chairs, silverware, my boarding pass. Even the seats on the plane had it embroidered on it. I guess what’s hated in America 20 years ago is loved in Taiwan today.
Waiting at the gate for my connection, a younger guy struck up a conversation noticing my Minnesota hat. Luis, a 17 year old son of a diplomat that had just applied to my Alma Matter for a degree in psychology. Our converstion continued up until boarding and we exchanged information. he and his family are planning on taking me on a tour around Hanoi in the next few days. Fast forward to landing in Vietnam, made it through customs and visa signing with no issues. After spending most of my US cash on a SIM card and my 30 day visa I went to withdraw cash from the ATM to pay for my taxi and hostel. 1st card, no luck. 2nd card no luck. 3rd card – luck with strings attached. A $5 withdraw charge +3% of the amount awithdrawn. I was stuck between no international calling plan and the fact that its 2 AM in the states I had nothing I could do but bite the bullet. I haggled with a taxi driver, knocking my fair down from 30 to 18 I felt slightly more accomplished.
The drive into the city was nothing like I had ever seen before. There were lines painted on the road but they meant less than Trump promising not to separate families at the border. It just reminded me of ants on an ant hill, these tiny vehicles with unbelievable loads strapped all around them, zipping and whizzing by each other but never touching. It seemed that the rules of the road were strictly derived by the confidence of the driver.
On the drive, there was one other girl in the passenger van with me, a girl. I took a shot in the dark and asked if she spoke English and she did. She was from France, a university student on holiday backpacking around Southeast Asia. I tried a bit of my highschool French on her but her face clearly showed that I had lost any ability I once had so she kindly helped me out and continued the conversation in English. We talked about our travels, our plans and what we want to do when our trips our over. We didn’t get to exchange information but something about that conversation made me feel at ease. She got dropped at her hostel and we parted ways, mine only 2 minutes further up the road.
I was checked in by a beautiful Australian girl who seemed extremely intrigued by the fact that this is my first experience outside the country. I figure it will be a talking point should I get to grab a beer with her later. Honestly I just want to hear her accent more. All of the voices I hear echoing through the halls of this 8 story dorm have an unfamiliar twang and bounce to them. I have yet to meet another American, which I am more than fine with. (Apparently we are all too loud anyway).
I am signing off as its 6 Pm which means free beer down in the lobby and since I didn’t withdraw enough cash the first time I will be relying on as my dinner tonight. Hopefully I can get sorted before the morning.