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Archive for September 1st, 2009

Old and wise enough

San Francisco International Airport

Well this trip started remarkably well. Dad and his dog (named shadow but I call her killer given she is so darn small and sweet) dropped me off at San Francisco International airport and within 10 minutes I was checked in with an apparent seat upgrade to the exit row/window on the forward bulkhead. I Was not sure about taking this seat as I thought I got a pretty good seat when I booked on-line, but the young and petite Asian women insisted that I was big and needed the extra room. Typically, I would have thought she meant I was tall but after tipping the scales at 219.50 lb yesterday, I think she was being polite and was actually thinking to herself – you are a fatty and are lucky we did not charge you for a second American super sized seat.

Next I went to the see the money changers. Yes, I know they charge a premium at the airport but I like showing up in foreign lands with some local currency. I asked for ~two hundred dollars US in the local currency of South Korean which is my first destination. Not sure but I think I got 311,000 Won. It is a big stack of bills with the lowest denomination being 1,000 Won and there is only one of those. When the women counted it back to me and asked for my concurrence I just shrugged my shoulders as I have no idea if it is correct – thus starts my journey into the unknown which will need to be based on the trust and kindness of others.

Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean

“Remarkably well” was an understatement and I am certain this is an omen of things to come. I am indeed on the bulkhead just beyond first class. I have about 5 feet of space in front of me, and if you can believe it- the middle seat next to me is open. So you think it could not get better than that on a flight that is schedule for about 12 hours? Wrong. The take-off and landing jump seat for the stewards is just in front of me and thus right before my eyes are the most beautiful women from Singapore. Forget about the U. S Airlines along with their frumpy old fashioned flight uniforms. On Singapore airlines they dress for success and the women of the crew wear the most gorgeous flowered blouses that look almost like a tapestry. These are accompanied by beyond ankle length, flowing, and simply stunning skirts. Hell their shows even have inlays of the same patterns and material. I have no idea what the men are wearing, sorry.

According to the flight monitor it looks like we are about a third of the way across the pond while traveling at altitudes somewhere above 30,000 feet. We are flying nearly directly west on a great circle course that will take me to Incheon South Korea and the beginning of my 2009 mini trip to Asia. I say mini as I only plan to touch a few countries in the coming days, weeks, and months. How long exactly? I honestly do not know. What I know is I resigned from my job as the Vice President of a California based environmental consulting firm. WHAT, didn’t you get the memo about a world wide recession where jobs, let alone really good ones, are hard to find? Yea, I heard about that but I also heard a few other things. Including my tramping buddy John from New Zealand who is now working in the United Arab Emirates, who said something like: “Hell, it beats a sports car, a blond bimbo who is 20 years your junior. ” I also heard my mom, who we lost almost a year ago now from cancer, who understood so perfectly her last year that every day is precious and thus you better not waste to0 many of them or defer your life. So because I have always dreamed of seeing the Himalayas, I figured that would be a good place to reassess my middle aged-post divorce life. Besides I can always work, but I am not certain I will always be able to go hiking in the land of the snow leopard.

The plan, and it is not much of a plan, goes something like this. See my niece Sara who is working in Skorea as an English teacher to kindergarten children, then head to Nepal and potentially Tibet and see those BIG damn mountains. Maybe go down to India for a bit of Yoga and curry, maybe over to the United Arab Eremites to see John and take a camel ride, and well who knows what else if anything. I honestly have made absolutely no plans less buying a round trip airline ticket (which is required before you will get a Visa to Tibet or India). I may stay a few weeks, or I may stay a few months….I bet it is more the latter and thus my return flight is booked for the maximum allowable stay under a single ticket (6 months); but for a hundred bucks it can be changed so we will see. Who knows, maybe I will be back at work in six weeks as some ar predicting. All I know right now is that I am on an airplane, and Sara told me what bus I need to take to get to the town she is teaching in; actually said take the purple one…… I think.

Over the months I have told a lot of people about my trip and the responses are as varied as they are interesting and potentially even insightful. My professional peer acquaintances say things like: “Aren’t you worried about your job, security, retirement? I put these comments in the misery loves company, fear based American marketing, damn I really wish I could just go do something like that, or I am flipping pissed you can category. Then there are my family and friends who often think I am nuts but love and support me regardless and sincerely hope I find what ever it is I am actually still looking for; who knows. Finally, there are the many members of Sun City Lincoln, an old folks retirement community as dad calls it, who I have talked to over the last 2 month while bumming a room off of pops in preparation for being homeless. Without exception, I mean not even one, every person be it man or women has said: good for you, you only live once, don’t look back, go now, go now, go now. I put this group in the old enough and wise enough to have it figured out. Fortunately they are sincere and kind enough to pass it on.

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