i got to bush intercontinental, checked in, got my boarding pass and walked to the gate. the goodbyes to my wife and the kids was a bit emotional, but we all survived. the security check wasn't so bad. this was my first time in janet napolitano's naked machine. then i headed for my gate and when i arrived, i found that the flight was going to be late - 90 minutes late. my layover in los angeles was only going to be for two hours - that's a problem.
i waited in the terminal. got my book out, read a bit, walked around, checked the flight status, read my book, walked around, checked the flight status, read book, walked, checked status, read, walk, check ...
the flight really was late. we boarded - i was in business class - my first time in the leather, comfortable seats with lots of leg room. i sat next to danny brassell phd - america's reading ambassador. i had never heard of this guy, but apparently he's pretty popular around the nation. he gave me a bookmark / business card. we talked about the book i was reading (the savior generals), the author of the book (victor davis hanson) and who he is. i think danny wrote the name of the author down. then we chatted about things; travel, hometowns, etc. then the flight took off and danny fell asleep while i read.
i get to los angeles and i need to get to the tom bradley international terminal. i hadn't been to lax since 1997. in hindsight, i could have and should have just walked from my landing terminal to tom bradley. but instead, i waited for the bus to pick me up and drive me over. the bus, which was supposed to come by every 10 minutes, didn't come by for over 20 minutes. when i finally get to tom bradley, i have about 20 mins before my flight to hong kong leaves. i get to the cathy pacific counter to check-in and they say that everything has been closed down - i can't get on the flight. even if they let me, the security check-point has closed - bummer. she gets me on the next day's flight out of lax. i'm in dis-belief and i walked around the fairly empty terminal in a daze. i call my wife, let her know what's going on. then i find a quite place to relax. i end up sleeping on a restaurant soft bench for the night.
i wake up around 6am local time, i get up and walk around. the terminal is pretty quiet. the other 50 or so people who also spent the night are starting to wake as well. some people came really prepared - they found a nice spot on the floor next to the windows overlooking the tarmac and then made a nice bed of blankets and bags and fell asleep. the morning goes by slowly. i found a spot and read my book. soon it is afternoon; i get some lunch at panda express. after lunch, i head down to the cathay pacific counter and see if i can get on standby for the 2pm flight. i get on, wait two hours and then come back to see if they will let me on. they do! they issue my boarding pass and i proceed to the security check. there is some more waiting outside the gate and then i'm finally on the plane.
the business class is full of quasi-cubicles with a seat that fully reclines. there is also a 15 inch computer screens built into the cubicle for watching movies and listening to music. the flight supplies a very nice set of head phones too. the flight is over 14 hours. during the flight, i read, listened to music (depeche mode's new album), watched two movies (argo and the hobbit), ate a full course meal, a full course breakfast and then i slept for a few hours.
the flight arrived in hong kong at around 5pm sunday local time. after i got off the plane, i had to go through another security check before they let me into the main hong kong terminal. i walked around a bit, checked the place out and then found a nice place to rest. i was able to connect to the wifi network and then talked to my family via tango (like facetime). then i dozed off for a few hours.
i woke up around 3 or 4am monday morning local time. i couldn't sleep anymore. got up, walked around some more, then charged my phone and read some more of my book. i went to my gate and waited some more. while i was there, i logged on to my work computer and made a couple of phone calls - one to my wife and kids and another to my parents. after a while, this lady comes and sits across from me and starts talking - it turns out she too missed a flight and now she was catching the same flight to kuala lumpur. she is from penang. nice lady, but her english was a bit rusty. the plane arrived, we got on and then 4 hours later at 12:30pm kuala lumpur time, i finally arrived.
i made my way off the plane, caught a tram to the main terminal, then made my way to immigration, had my passport stamped and then proceeded to the baggage claim. the people looked very different - even from hong kong. malaysia is a muslim country and so i saw lots of women dressed the the full body burka. i stopped at the currency exchange, then got my bag. from there, the mandarin oriental hotel 'limo' picked me up and took me to the hotel. the drive was about 45 minutes. i was amazed at all the construction going on - it was everywhere! the roads were nice, but that was expected as we stopped every 15 minutes to pass through a toll booth. the hotel is in the city center. as soon as i stepped out of the car, i had someone getting my luggage and escourting me to my room. check-in was in my room! i didn't have to go to the front desk. someone was waiting for me the moment i stepped out of the car; they escorted me to my room and let me in. the room was nice and clean.
i unpacked, showered and then logged on my my laptop to see if my team could receive me at work. then i walked to the office and met everyone. my host showed me around the office and went over safety protocols and then introduced me to many people who i've worked with before, but never met in person. it was fantastic finally putting a face to people i've worked with for so long. my head was spinning from the jet lag, but i survived those first four hours.
at around 6pm that evening, i logged off, went back to the hotel, called my family, talked a bit and then ordered room service for dinner. then i crashed for 3 hours, before getting back up for an 11pm meeting (with people in houston). i was so tired, i was able to get right back to sleep.
my first day in kl was over.
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