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RTW #1: A Globetrotter is Born

Final Thoughts on My 1st Round the World Trip

Posted by on Feb 4, 2006 | 2 comments

Final Thoughts on My 1st Round the World Trip

When I boarded the Korean Air flight in Seoul, the first thing I did was set my watch to LA time so I could try to get adjusted. It was 3:00pm in Seoul on Feb 4th, and I had to set my watch back 17 hours to Feb 3rd at 11:00pm. Very, very odd. It’s like I get the whole day over again thanks to crossing the International Date Line. This is a first for me as the farthest I’ve ever gone over the Pacific is Hawaii. I guess it’s better to gain a day back than to have lost one.

I was again supremely impressed with Korean Airlines. Since this was a 10-hour flight, the plane I was on offered their “true” first class cabin which had the sleeper seats. The champagne they served was Dom Perignon, and the 7-course dinner included a “caviar course”. Wow. It was a really nice way to end the trip.

This round the world trip has taught me a lot, about the world and about myself. For example…

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Final Stop…Seoul South Korea

Posted by on Feb 3, 2006 | 0 comments

Final Stop…Seoul South Korea

My Korean Air flight from Tokyo to Seoul was excellent. I have never flown Korean Air before and hadn’t heard much about it but I was really impressed.

I didn’t think any airline on this trip could surpass Air France’s First Class service but Korean Air actually did. The seat was the most comfortable one I’ve ever had and the food and wine were top notch. It was only a 2 1/2 hour flight but I think I’m actually looking forward to experiencing a longer flight on Korean on the way home tomorrow. And they even had one movie that I haven’t seen yet on this trip (and believe me, I have seen everything every airline has to offer right now).

When I arrived at Incheon Airport, I was again astounded by its beauty and efficiency. I’m starting to wonder what Asian people think when they land at a US airport. We’ve got nothing on Asia when it comes to airport design, some of them are a work of art (Narita was the one exception – not bad, just not as fabulous as the others).

Unfortunately, when I step outside the airport I am confronted with the freezing cold temperatures. According to our pilot upon landing, the temp is -10 C. That is about 8 degrees COLDER than Berlin was. I don’t know exactly what that translates to in Fahrenheit but I know it’s not good. I’m thinking somewhere in the teens.

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Touring Tokyo

Posted by on Feb 1, 2006 | 0 comments

Touring Tokyo

It is cold and raining heavily when I land in Tokyo around 2pm. The first thing I learn upon landing is that downtown Tokyo is FAR from Narita Airport. The train gets you there in one hour for about $26 US. Not cheap, but I don’t even want to think about what a cab would cost. So I take the train to Tokyo Station in the middle of town. I know that my hotel is in the Ginza neighborhood and from my map it looks like that is fairly close to Tokyo Station. So, being the adventurous type, I decide to strike out on my own (in the rain) to find my hotel on foot. Of course, I could have taken a cab but I hadn’t gotten any local currency yet and besides, I was feeling lucky. How hard could a 30-story building be to find?

As it turned out, harder than you might think. I made it to the Ginza neighborhood without any trouble but the actual street my hotel was on was not listed on my map. Fortunately, every couple of blocks there were city map signs that covered the surrounding area near bus stops. Using those to navigate, I found the hotel after about 30 minutes. Without the rain it might have been a lovely walk.  Fortunately I had an umbrella; unfortunately, my luggage dragging behind me did not.

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Beijing and the Great Wall of China

Posted by on Jan 31, 2006 | 0 comments

Beijing and the Great Wall of China
Let me first say how impressed I was with my Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong. Their lounge in HK is probably the best one I have ever been in, it was enormous and even had a Noodle Bar (fun!). The in-flight service was fantastic and the cabin was almost empty which was nice. After a lovely three hours, we landed in Beijing.

The Beijing airport is nice enough, nothing like the last 3 airports I’ve been in but certainly up to the standards of the better American airports. It looked pretty new so I’m guessing it’s been recently upgraded for the upcoming Olympics. I passed easily through passport control since I had arranged for my visa back in the US a few months ago and headed out to find a taxi (the one thing they don’t have here is a rail link to the city).

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Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Posted by on Jan 29, 2006 | 0 comments

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Note to self: 6am international flights are NOT the cure for jetlag. By the time I got back to the hotel in Singapore and settled into bed, it was almost 1am and of course I could not fall asleep for fear that I was too tired to wake up in time for my flight to Hong Kong in the morning. I worried about this despite the fact that I had set a wake-up call, set the alarm clock I bought at the airport before leaving Atlanta and set the hotel alarm clock next to the bed – what I normally refer to as a “3-alarm morning.”

Normally, a 3-alarm morning for me would involve setting a wake-up call, my cell phone alarm and my Blackberry alarm. But since I did not bring my cell phone on this trip and I haven’t seen my Blackberry since Germany (don’t ask – I don’t have an answer) I made do with what I had. There comes a point when you know you are tired and the possibility exists (however small) that you will sleep right through a wake-up call – or more likely hang it up and go right back to sleep. Thus the 3-alarm theory, anyone can sleep through one alarm or even two, but three? Not a chance. Let me stress here that I can’t recall ever over-sleeping in my entire adult life but I am of the firm belief that just because something has never happened, does not mean you shouldn’t worry about it.

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Singapore Sling

Posted by on Jan 26, 2006 | 0 comments

Singapore Sling

I arrived in Singapore at 10am and was immediately impressed with Changi Airport. Not only is it clean and beautiful, it is easily navigable and everything is clearly labeled in English, Chinese, Thai, Malay and Japanese – and for the first time in a while, English is listed first.

I easily made my way to the MRT train station inside the airport where a helpful attendant was waiting next to the automatic ticket machines to assist visitors in purchasing a ticket to the right destination. (This is a nice touch since usually you’re on your own with these machines – I typically end up using the ticket window to ensure I’m buying the right ticket.)  Though the trip to my hotel on Orchard Road required two train changes, I was thoroughly prepped by the helpful ticket person so I had no problems getting to the Orchard Road Station situated only 2 blocks from my hotel.

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