Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stopover at Hong Kong Airport: Reflections of Orange County and Surroundings

After ten hours in one of the new Cathay Airlines planes enroute to Hong Kong, my mind is overcome with one single overwhelming thought.

Whoever who designed the new non-reclining seats need to be shot with a tennis ball machine. And I would aim for the spine just so they would know how they made us suffering passengers feel.

I don't know what they were thinking, but their sliding implementation of “lumbar support” is insulting at best. I gave up trying to sleep and resigned myself to an aching back and grouchy sleep deprivation for another 3 hours. Gimme back the old reclining seats, I'd rather trade in the larger LCD for it.

Grousings aside. It's been a fun few months in the States. I will definitely miss the Californian weather (What's an umbrella? ;) ). I will admit the trip wrecked my comic schedule, but ah well. Can't be helped. Priorities after all.

So since this is partially a travel blog, I should sum up my working trip:

The first impression of LAX I got from the plane was: “Freaking hell... the roads are straight. They're really straight, wide and square.”

Sound like a silly observation, but if you have ever been in a southeast asian capital city you will know what I mean when I find this uh... different. Heck, even London had its share of cramped convoluted roads, but compared to the asphalt twirlings of Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, the roads in Orange County are so... trim and organized and tamed. (I'm sure the locals will disagree, but then they probably never tried driving in Asia... and no, Singapore doesn't count.)

Fortunately the drivers in Orange County are incredibly civilized in comparison, and were fairly accommodating to this poor foreigner who was learning to drive on while her mind was screaming to her as the “YOU'RE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!”. They even stop for pedestrians. The first time that happened to me while on foot, I wasn't expecting it and was patiently waiting for the car to pass to I could cross the road and into the local Target store. (Standard issue survival measure in Asia, even if there is a pedestria crossing. Except if you're in Singapore because Singapore likes being an exception to every southeast asian rule.) It took about 10 seconds before I realized the driver was patiently waiting for me to pass and he got an apologetic grin before this silly swaku hurried across the road! XD

So what else did I notice about California and America in general? Well, unlike a certain other country which gets katoked by their own government into buying the same locally-made junk car at high prices, there is a very large and wide selection of cars available to the public. Especially the large part; the cars are huge, especially the american make ones. Boy did I not have fun trying to drive those. Maybe I'm just too used to the nippy little things you get at home.

I can see the necessity of the love affair with their cars though. Everything is so spaced out here. I remember my first arrival to the hotel and my discovery that I'd need a traveller's adaptor. So I thought: “No biggie. I'll just head to the local convenience store and grab one.” So I walk down to reception, ask the concierge for the location of the closest shop and was told:

“It's two miles away Miss.”

Cue me going uh... okaaaay. (I didn't have my car then.)

Most people would think we divers are nuts to want to dive in a site that looks like this on the surface. They may be right.

I did have some time to check out the local underwater scene in the nearby Santa Catalina island. Okay, the area is overdived and the water is COLD, but kelp forests are a nice change from coral reefs. If you don't get motion sickness. Which I did. The garibaldis loved it.

Getting ready to jump into icy water so I can look at fish and kelp with some random Polish guy in the background.

And I got to see dolphins. That's always good XD.

I also took some time off to go visit the national parks.

High-speed cameras rock!

Yosemite was gorgeous.

Somewhere in my computer, I have about 100 shots of different waterfalls. I am not kidding about it.

Really really gorgeous- but crowded.

This picture is only here because it's bizarre and looks like some sort of weird advert and only serves to prove the point that I may be nuts.

I did NOT expect to get caught in bumper to bumper traffic in a national park, for some bizarre reason, but as it stands, we did. It was not a fun 2 hour crawl.

Spending your time drawing during the traffic jam is the way to retain your sanity!

I actually like Sequioa a bit more because of this same reason, or at least, the avoidance of it. It was not as beautiful as Yosemite, but it had a desolate kind of beauty all the same, and the trees were huge.

Apparently the biggest tree the world.

And nothing says whoa like blithely strolling down the trail and realizing there's several huge black bears scratching their backs on a tree five meters away from you...

At this point I was hoping that he would ignore us and let us back slowly away.

Best of all, I made new friends, and even met a fellow comic creator in real life. The funny part was that we both didn't realize each other had comics at first and only found out later after we'd been hanging out for a while. Now that was worth traveling that 7k miles for the coincidence XD

Hong Kong International Airport at 4 am in the morning...

Anyway, as I sit in the transit terminal in Hong Kong waiting for my flight to Kuala Lumpur, I can't help but think: As fun as it is to travel sometimes the heart does long for home.

The only saving grace is that they offer really slow free wifi so I can kill my transit time.

Uh... really bad time to mention that I'm leaving in 3 days for London and Spain after this... right?

As an ex-Londoner I'm used to London but this will be my first Spanish trip. Certainly will be something new!

Anyway I am really jet lagged, so off I go to get some shut eye!

By the way, you will have noticed I finally added a Twitter feed to this blog. I'm going to use it for small blurbs and to generally let you all know I am still alive XD.


  1. That is cool that you saw a bear. I have been to many national parks many, many times, and I have only seen one like 1 time and not very close. I didn't even see any when we went to yellowstone. You are lucky! I will miss you at work, hope you have a safe trip home!

  2. I want to go to America now...sooo pretty... *_*