Watch. Listen. Learn. (India 1: En Route)

Hong Kong Airport, November 4, 2011

One thing I like about airports is that you don’t need to pretend that you’re not a tourist, like you do in major cities when you don’t know your way around. Here, everyone looks lost.

So I’m sitting in the Hong Kong airport and it’s about 6 a.m.. local time but it’s about 6 p.m yesterday in my head, so I’m having supper. I’m eating spicy chicken noodle in fish soup and HK really means it when they say “spicy.” With a tea, it was only HK$54! (Honestly, I don’t know either, but I gave them US$20, and got back HK$90. So not much.)

I extend my gratitude to all those who suggested books they’d take with them if they had a 16-hour flight and several other long hauls ahead of them. There were great suggestions for books and authors I hadn’t heard of. I’m going to check out quite a few of those when I get back. The books I finally did bring with me are, in paperback: Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black and Peter Carey ‘s Illywhacker (thanks, Bert and Victor, respectively). On the iPad I have Arivand Adiga’s Last Man in Tower and Russell Banks’s Lost Memory of Skin (thanks for both suggestions, Charles, but how come every book you suggested is available only in hardcover? Do you think I’m made of money and built like Hercules?) (actually, I think I know: you read review copies, right?). I also (thanks to Rhona) have with me The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever. So I’m well nourished every which way. So far I’ve started the Adiga and the Carey, and they’re both light-handed but engaging, and they’re going to be perfect.

Some of the suggestions I liked about the kinds of books to take on long trips from other people were: to take classics so you’d be forced to finally get to them; to bring an old favourite; to include a Calvin and Hobbes collection to break up the heavier reading; and to take a selection of genres such as a mystery, a local history and some more challenging books as well.

As I started to write this post, I was nearing the end of the first leg of my journey, the 16-hour flight from Toronto to Hong Kong. I had read a few chapters, slept for a while, done some crocheting, watched a movie (Bollywoodish), and been wellfed (as Joyce might have spelled it) twice. It was crowded in my window seat with my own stuff plus the blankets, pillows and headphones they handed out, and the plane was full. Still, it was much better than I’d thought it was going to to be and I hope the rest of the flights go as easily.

I saw nothing out the window as it was night from the time we left Toronto till we landed in HK, except one brief time when I noticed a bit of light under the lowered blinds. I am not sure where that happened, as we flew up over the top of Canada and Alaska before heading south again towards Hong Kong, where it was about 5 a.m. when we arrived. Where could there have been light? Also mysteriously (to me) it was 5 a.m. on November 4 when we arrived although we left Toronto at 1:30 a.m. on November 3. Time to learn about the International Date Line, I guess.

Bangkok looking very wet, Nov. 4/11

I have no idea what happened to my photos of Hong Kong but here are a couple I took as I landed in Bangkok briefly on the way from HK to Delhi. Bangkok was just beginning to recover from the flooding. I thought the airport was appropriate — its arches looked “Siamish” to me —

Bangkok Airport, Nov. 4, 2011

6 responses to “Watch. Listen. Learn. (India 1: En Route)

  1. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for posting your experience in India.
    I leave in two weeks for a GAP trip of a month in India which I want to take because my daughter took her Physiotherapist practicum in India when she was at UBC and talked about how fantastic Southern India was. I am in my early 60s and travel a lot single to many parts of the world. I have enjoyed your writings and also enjoy traveling with many young people. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I am very envious. India has long been a dream of mine. But watch the hot curries.

  3. Fun — keep letting us know via Facebook that you’re got something new up!

  4. Great article. I hope you’re having fun.

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