Day 2: January 9, 2014
At about noon central time, Korean Air Flight 38 left Chicago, Illinois and I left the Arctic Vortex covering Canada and most of North America. The temperature was 9 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. That was a warm up from the -13 degrees and -38 degree windchill from a few days ago.
This is my first international flight (economy) on a non US airline and it was so much better. Let me count the ways.
- Plenty of leg room.
- Nice size media device with lots of entertainment options, each seat
- Garment hanger, each seat.
- SUB part, each seat.
- Complimentary head phones, pillow, blanket, tooth paste and brush and slippers.
- Wine, soft drinks, two meals and snacks provided.
- Delightful crew.
I had to fly first or business lass on US airlines to get that kind of service.
About five hours into the flight we left Canadian air space and crossed into Alaska. Next up is the International Date Line. We crossed it about six hours and 45 minutes into the flight. From here we entered Russian air space coming across the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. Then we followed the Russian coast line along the Pacific to South Korea. To avoid North Korea, we swung out into the ocean coming into South Korea.
We took off on time on the second leg of the trip, a nine hour flight from Inchon, South Korea to Brisbane, Australia. This flight was equivalent to the red eye from our east to west coast. This flight turned into day 3.
My wife and I took a vacation day to attend the Indiana Covered Bridge Festival in mid October 2013. The festival primarily covered three Indiana towns, Bridgeton, Mansfield, and Rockville. Each town had its own festival characteristics. Bridgeton was more like a tent city with few permanent structures and unpaved roads. Mansfield consisted of a combination of many tents and many more physical structures, including some historic buildings with about two paved roads. Rockville’s festival was integrated into a formal town with some tents that were interspersed on the sidewalks.
Mansfield and Bridgeton had covered bridges and grist mills. The Bridgeton Bridge had burned down as the result of arson but was rebuilt in 2006. It is no longer connected to the road that passes through town and now sits silently next to a new roadway bridge. The Bridgeton mill was the most interesting because you take the stairs to its three floors viewing the machinery on each level. It represented a time when the nation was becoming industrialized. The internal operation of the mill was made with wood, leather and metal components that I suspect were assembled on site.
The bridges and mills didn’t seem to be the focal point for most people. They were more interested in the dozens of eateries, and shopping. Some of the food was hearty fare including ham, beans, and corn bread. Another example was chicken soup with a side of mashed potatoes with gravy, and a role; how’s that for starch? Most of the rest of the food was typical of a carnival with staples of elephant ears, soft pretzels, ice cream, fudge, fried chicken and vegetables.
The shopping was interesting. Some of the products were made by hand. These items included hats, rugs, wooden signs, wood carved by chain saws into animal figures, potpourri, ceramics, and architectural wonders made of metal. Other products look like they came from companies dumping their inventories, like socks and work or garden gloves lined up in boxes by the dozens. Other vendors sold inexpensive costume jewelry, plastic puzzle lights and knock off perfumes and purses. Some of the more unusual items were animal hides and tools.
Take time to sample the local seasonal customs and celebrations they can be fun.
I was fortunate to spend an evening with a family on an island in Lake Titicaca, living and eating as they did. We arrived in time for dinner, chicken noodle soup, potatoes and tea. Summer time was still very cool at night so we slept with lots of blankets. It was the first time I slept on a rope bed and a mattress made of straw. It may not have been a Certa Perfect Sleeper, but I was tired and slept well. For entertainment we went to a local gathering place to dance. That was interesting for someone who doesn’t dance. The next morning we had something between a pancake and a tortilla with jam and hot tea; very delicious.
Being on an island in a remote part of the world, central heat, air conditioning, phones and electricity are a rarity. Our host had two solar panels that provided light in the evening and some sources for electricity. The cost was expensive and my understanding was that it would take him about 14 years to pay off the cost of both panels. Through our interpreter I asked why our host invested in the solar panels. His response was the same as you would expect from a middle class family in most countries. He wanted his son to have a better life. This was one of the common denominators between my host and me despite our differences in culture, belief systems, life style and geographical location.