Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What day is it? I feel like I have been in travel mode for a week. How strange also to look at a map and marvel at how far from home I have come. It’s Tuesday after and I know that only because my computer tells me so.

I spent a restless Monday night in Taipei. My fear always is that an alarm won’t sound or a wake-up call won’t come and I’ll miss my flight. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas because I’ll have a couple of days to sleep in. I was impressed enough with Taipei.

The U.S. influence is there. Freeways are called freeways; signs have a green background—just like in Peoria. The city appears more vibrant than some American cities, mostly I think because there must be no municipal control over signage. There are neon signs almost everywhere. There are so many that I wonder how a sign can break through the visual stimulus overload to be meaningful to anyone. I would have liked to have talked with someone about the local economy. Everything I read suggests the ripple effect to Republic of China (and PROC) to the slowdown in the U.S. and Europe.

I flew China Airlines to Jakarta. I think China Air is the principle airline in Taiwan. It was a wonderful flight. We were on a very new Airbus 330 than included a personal video system for those of us in economy. It was a comfortable flight—though another long flight, about five hours.

I sometimes write about smells hitting my senses when I travel. Sometimes it’s the smell of trash fires smoldering in the late evening or early morning and it’s the first significant smell that hits me as I leave an airport or arrive in a city. Other times it’s been the sharp, pungent smell of cheese. Still other times, it’s the smell of an open market where you smell not just foods for sale but literally the smell of the people who are working hard to make a living and provide as best they can for their families.

I’m in the Jakarta airport and I don’t have any particular smells that are hitting my senses. I smell fried food—including Krispy Kreme donuts (who would have thought?). The KK store is just across from Starbucks here in the airport food court. There are other familiar foods as well….Hagen Dazs ice cream. It’s a bit humid—at least compared with Peoria and warm also. I bought a Coke Zero, canned in Indonesia to cool off.

I’m now a millionaire (I exchanged one Ben Franklin at 10,700 Ruppies per dollar and received more than a million Ruppies in exchange). I’m struggling to get use to the pricing structure. I was surprised to find that I paid about 70 cents for the Coke Zero. I suspect bottled water or a local drink would have been half the price.

Just a few quick thoughts….will get more posted soon.

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