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Right – just found a place that seems able to connect with my little Asus eee, so here’s the prequel to the above.- @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

  1. How to kill time in transit at the vast Changi air

    terminal – although kill’s probably not the right word. When you’ve got five hours freedom from being straight jacketed in economy class for 22 hours, transit is a gift. “People watching” one pamphlet suggests. I found a place in this spread out city of terminals where there were no people to watch – just a spot to relax and unwind – lots of wide open spaces here – you have to hunt them down though. This photo is taken on the elusive third deck of Terminal 3.

  2. Taipei – an unexpected stop where we disembarked,went through another security check and re-boarded. It was 2300 after an 0500 start. The 2 hour journey across x time zones and the date line then commenced. Tried to catch some zeds but was woken twice for meals even though I wasn’t taking them. Fully crowded flight.

  3. Los Angeles. Border protection! What an experience – a frantic cranky pressing crowd from several international flights all pressed together and being herded along gangways, tunnels and through doors into something like sheep races. (Remember that scene from Crocodile Dundee?) My attempts at courtesy were met with scornful derision by some and open mouthed bewilderment by others. The accepted custom seems to be “Mind your own business” and don’t respond to another’s distress. This was noticeably the case when a small Asian woman was trying to grab her elusive bag from the carousel – which seemed much higher than most. It was making it’s third circuit when I lunged and grabbed it for her. She was grateful but the surrounding crowd stared like stunned mullets as if this was an audacious action. Perhaps they thought I was going to run off with it! I also let a group of Spanish speaking people in front of me because they were separated from each other and somewhat agitated. The lady immediately behind me berated my action, saying it would have been nice if I had had the manners and magnamity to let her in as well. I apologised and responded that, if she was part of the group, she was quite welcome to go before me. Even if she was not. I stood aside to allow her ahead. She refused and said nothing more. The immigration interview was an abrupt, “What is the purpose of your visit?… How long are you staying?… bye bye!” About 50 minutes altogether which wasn’t bad considering the large crowd, many of whom were having trouble filling out the immigration forms through lack of English. Thanks to Google Maps and Street View, I already had the route to my overnight stay imprinted on my brain. It was a healthy 30 minute walk from the terminal. Great stretch of the legs! Great bed! Great breakfast!

  4. People watching. Unavoidable on return to LAX for Nashville connection. The world passes through this place. An hour’s wait at check-in did not pass without interest – the prolific amount of Spanish spoken – the paparazzi chasing celebrities who most vehemently do not want to be photographed, Rastafarians on skateboards, uniformed folk shouting at crowds of confused looking travelers, too-late commuters banging on terminal observation glass trying to get their departing aircraft to return. Everyone speaks loudly announcing their conversations for all to hear. The obesity issue is notably common.

  5. Tipping. Not sure how this works but I’ve done it twice – the bloke who delivered my breakfast and the shuttle baggage handler. $5 a piece and the response was generous. A lot of these jobs are at minimum wages and tips are the only way that those in the service industry – mostly immigrants – can keep body and soul together. For the traveler, the cost of living seems to be cheaper here when one does the exchange calculations so I think it’s a win/win situation. (Later note – the tipping left for the chambermaid at my Nashville stay was refused – so go figure!)

  6. Through the Looking Glass. I thought my feeling of disorientation was due to jet lag. I’m now convinced that it’s due to the effect of “opposites.” It’s all pervasive. The traffic drives on the opposite side and the pedestrian flows echo it. Light switches are “upside down.” Hot and cold water taps are reversed. Whereas GST is included in the advertised price at home, here it is added on – necessitating keeping an internal calculator in one’s head. It grants me a new appreciation of what newcomers to our own shores must experience as old yet benign habits are continually challenged.

  7. Nashville – with what first impressions shall I compare thee? Right now I’m thinking Ballarat – a large busy country town with a lot of history and ambience – but rather than gold it’s country music (another kind of gold) that puts this place on the map. My room looks out on the Union Station Hotel – a grand old building from the early 1900s when Nashville was more famous as a rail hub. An African-American man (who worked for a company called “Driving Miss Daisy”) offered me a ride from the airport for $20. Travel weariness had set in and I wasn’t in the mood to hunt down a hotel shuttle and I thought it a good price so agreed. The conversation and local knowledge was worth it. After settling in I ventured out at dusk to find a bite to eat – just a snack. The only thing that looked open was McDonald’s and it was actually closing (yes, I know, hard to imagine!) Lots of down and outers around. I must have seemed like one because the young man behind the gas station counter offered to pay the extra 20 cents for my $5.20 turkey sandwich and drink. Off to bed now – three whole days in one place with time to soak in! (Later note – went back to the Golden Arches the next day about 6pm thinking to get a light salad having had an Angus beef sub with trimmings for lunch. Ordered a South West Premium Salad thinking it would be the modest size of those served back home. Well this is super-size country and it came with deep grilled chicken on a huge dinner plate. One can eat quite well here on a very modest budget.)

  8. Downtown comes alive. Around mid-afternoon, every delicatessen, beer-hall, bar and eatery in the “honky-tonk” strip begins to vibrate with all the genres of live country music. I shoved my way past about ten places in a row that were filling up with people to listen to the live performances – and that was before hitting the 2nd Avenue entertainment strip.

  9. Met up with Clive and Cherryl today we were soon drenched in a good ol’ Tennessee thunderstorm. Some java coffee in an old icecream parlour sorted us out. Later visited the Country Music Hall of Fame a masterpiece of modern architecture that showcased the development and rise of country music in elegant style. Just as elegant was the more classically styled music conservatory alongside, not in competition, but as complimentary. a harbinger, perhaps of the diverse streamscoming together for this convention.

 

 

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