Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Over the Pacific Ocean


I love the amenities available now to air travellers.  We’re flying over the Pacific Ocean and there’s an AC power outlet on the back of the seat in front of me.  So cool!  On our flight from Winnipeg to Vancouver, there was a USB outlet for each passenger and I was thrilled.  Then I discovered power outlet ports in the departure waiting area at the Vancouver airport.  There were a number of them, each with eight outlets.  How wonderful!  As someone living in the digital world, these no-longer-perks-but-necessities have been a welcome sight.

The past few couple weeks I’ve been busy getting ready for our trip.  The most important has been walking daily so that I could build up my stamina and strength for all the walking we expect to do.  It’s paid off!  At first I was walking about an hour at a time.  Then I was walking an hour followed by laundry, ironing and errand-running.  I experimented and found that I could add another hour’s walk to every second day.  This past Friday, I spent three hours dusting, vacuuming, washing floors, cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry.  That night, I slept for twelve hours. Saturday I continued that work for two hours without a break, and then went for a fast-for-me walk with my mom. 

By then I was wiped out and went to bed very early, thinking I’d need another twelve hours’ sleep.  No!  I was up and awake at 3:00 a.m.!  I didn’t want to risk waking Tom by packing, so I did another hour of cleaning, tried unsuccessfully to sleep again, went to church and spent the afternoon organizing what I was taking on the trip and packing.  Did this wear me out?  Again, no! I was up at 3:00 a.m. again, ready to face the last minute packing and 30 plus hours of transit from Winnipeg to Johor Bahru, Malaysia. 

Our carriage, in the form of a wonderful neighbour’s Jeep, arrived at 5:30 a.m.  With all our bags stowed, we headed to the airport.  The James Richardson Airport has a brand new terminal, opened only a few months, that neither Tom nor I had been in before.  It wasn’t hard to figure out where to go, however. The check-in kiosks were very near the door and, having used such devices before and feeling confident in my technological savvy, I chased away the proffered help—much too soon.  I’ve never needed to enter frequent flyer numbers or a passport before, though, and suddenly I was lost, with Tom depending on me to figure it all out.  Thankfully, the area is full of helpful staff and before I had a chance to try and find my own way through the maze of digital instructions, someone was at my elbow, doing it all for us. 

Any food available on our flight to Vancouver came at an extra charge and I knew nothing would be suitable for my low-carb diet anyway, so my meal consisted of boiled eggs and celery sticks from home.  Tom never eats breakfast anyway, so he was fine—until he saw the pistachios I’d brought.  Then he had a need to eat.

Walking from the domestic terminal in Vancouver to the international one wasn’t difficult.  Our travel agent, on seeing my knee braces, advised me to ask for travel assistance but I was loathe to ask.  Laden with the backpack and over-the-chest sling purse I’ve been carrying on all my walks (and Tom carrying his own, much-bigger backpack plus my carry-on medical gear), I managed the entire distance.  Yay for increased energy, strength and stamina!

(The seat in front of me just reclined and with my still-too-big-belly—despite a 60-pound weight loss—reducing lap space, my computer is now positioned at an awkward angle with my elbows sticking up in the air.  Oh the joy of economy class!  Though I noticed that in first class, each person is in an individual, one-person pod, which, while providing enough lap and leg room, would lend itself to perhaps-unwanted solitude.  What if a couple wants to sit together?)

One thing I noticed about both the Winnipeg and Vancouver airports is that they seem to specialise in locally-owned shops instead of garish chains. How refreshing!  And what a great way to promote the local economy!  In Vancouver, the international terminal had a large public lounging area featuring some of the highlights of B.C. such as Haida art, the feel of being in a rain forest, a wild-looking shoreline and an enormous, salt-water aquarium full of large fish, sea anemones, kelp and starfish. 

We had a small bite to eat because it would be another five hours before we’d eat again. Good thing!  I’d ordered meals for our flights that would fit my diet but there seems to be some confusion and I got a regular meal once lunch was served onboard.  I ate the meat and both Tom’s and my miniscule salads but had to pass on the rice, bun and large brownie.  Sigh.  I guess that’s my fate until we reach our destination.  Good thing I brought something to snack on!

At 1387 miles from Vancouver, 3925 miles from Beijing, flying at a ground speed of 550 mph 32,000 feet above the ocean below, with an outside temperature of 65.2F (WHY is a Canadian plane flying between two metric nations using miles and Fahrenheit?), so far, the biggest excitement of the trip for me is access to power for my electronic devices.  Thank you, God for small mercies!

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