I flew again. I hate flying.
Long time readers of this blog will remember that flying is something I don’t care for. Part of this is for the perfectly rational reason that everything about flying is fucking horrific. Bad food, uncomfortable chairs, stressful environment. Add to that the fact that I am well larger than the ordinary humans airline seats were designed for.
The other reason, is that I am, simply put, a god damned coward.
The first time was back in May 2017. It had been just about 18 months since the last time I got an airplane, about the space of the time that I had been living in China. I boarded an airplane to visit my father in Taiwan. He pretty desperately wanted to come to Asia, and I was as good an excuse as any for him to do it. But as my father is not the healthiest person alive, I spared the damage China would do and simply had him go to Taiwan. Of course, doing anything fun (such as getting to Taiwan by ship) was far too difficult, so I had to travel by plane.
A shitty, rickety, chinese plane. It was as horrific as you would think. Not to mention that I could barely fit into my seat, and all the surrounding people were rude and loud. No shock there. But of course, it turned me off to flying again.
And then it was time to leave China for good. I had no desire to get on another plane, so a strategy was in order. Having, however reluctantly, decided to go to the US, I wanted to get there as painlessly as possible. There were several options to get there by ship, but China per usual made it too difficult to leave by these means. The problem was this: I had to leave within seven days of the termination of my contract, which was my last day of work. This was only after I paid an extra $100 for an extension; the moronic Chinese government and my equally moronic workplace actually expected me to work till 10am and be out of the country by midnight. This gave me a seven day window to leave the country. One option was to take a cargo ship from Ningbo that actually left from around the window in which I was leaving. However, it would be cutting it very close to the wire, and if the ship were late I would be screwed. Not to mention this ship was going to the east coast via the panama canal, and thus would have been horrifically expensive (although that being said, what a cool fucking trip that would have been, huh?). My other ship options entailed spending a week or two in Hong Kong, or leaving the country and getting a new visa to come back in a month or so later and leaving from mainland. All these options worked out to be far too fucking expensive.
But hey, I needed to leave somehow. I would have to brave another flight if I had to. But to make it as easy on myself as humanly possible i broke the journey up into two chunks. This was of course after I researched what the shortest possible trans-pacific flight. Had Vladivostok to Anchorage been a viable option, I would have taken it. Alas, the shortest flight was the eight hours Tokyo-Seattle. It didn’t seem like such a bad option. On the plus side, it got me flying with ANA, a proper, respectable airline. That got me to Tokyo for seven days, which was great, and there will be a bit more on that later.
But the fact that I was flying ANA was a relief. Flying for me has turned into an exercise of Trump-esque reassurance to gather confidence in what it is that I am going through. Sporadically in the days prior to the flight, I gather confidence by repeating, mantra style. “Ok, this is a japanese flight. The Japanese are serious people. Tremendous people. They make great airplanes. The best airplanes. And they have the best work ethic. Tremendous work ethic. They aren’t going to let anything happen to this flight. Nothing at all.”
It’s pathetic, but it got me to board two flights.
As I boarded the flight from Tokyo to Seattle there were some young parents with a toddler, sitting not to far from me who immediately apologized for their child’s future behaviour. Kid was probably more well behaved on the flight then I was.