Saturday, March 18, 2006

Tokyo to Beijing

The trip from Tokyo to Beijing was relatively uneventful. Getting out of Tokyo was a bit of a chore. You have to wait in four lines before getting to your gate; a line to have checked bags screened before getting to ticket desk, a line at the ticket desk, a security line for carry-on and an immigration line. As I walked down the stairs to the gate, who do I see at the bottom of the stairs but the senior leadership of the firm gathered, Bill Anderson, Kurt Wehrsten and Fred Rohlfing. I'd been at the VIP lounge having a few cocktails, but that sobered me right up. Fortunately, having just flown from Chicago to Tokyo, they were more groggy than I was.

Caught most of North Country on the flight. Boy, what an ending. Had me choked up.

Japan Air has a very cool feature. As we were preparing for landing, the pilot announced we were heading into turbulence and the flight attendants should take their seats. I hate that announcement. Then on the the TV screens a starscape appeared with some very new age music in the background. It was very relaxing, like something you'd see in a health spa in New Mexico. I assumed it was some kind of tape loop that they show when you think you're goinng to die. So, I was grooving on the image, waiting for the turbulence, watching stars go by, some big, some small, steadily crossing the screen, when up appears the lights of a city on the horizon. Turns out this was a camera on the front of the plane and those were real stars. So we were able to watch the entire approach, as the pilot sees it, with this tingling music as accompanyment. Very impressive. I've never seen a landing from that perspective before.

Upon our arrival, there as a representative from the hotel waiting for us at the end of the gangway. She took us under her wing and I've never been through an airport more quickly. Zoom, right through immigration, zoom, right through customs, checked bags waiting for me (these other experienced travelers had only carry-on). I swear we got from the plane to the hotel shuttle in less than fifteen minutes, including a rest stop. Nice to be traveling with the big boys.

Then the coolest thing ever happened. I took out my Blackberry, which didn't work in Tokyo (I'm told our technology is too primitive for them). Just for the Hell of it, I sent an email to my son Danny who had left for Spain the night before. I just reported that I was in Beijing and asked if he had landed. Within seconds, I got the following message back:

"Yeah, we just landed in malaga, and I'm actually still sitting in the plane, its pouring here."

What a world we live in that we can communicate instantly across the planet this way. I love technology.

So, today I'm off to the Great Wall. Stay tuned for some good pictures.

4 comments:

A careful reader said...

I love your travelogue. And if you liked the screen view of your approach, wait until you come up with me in my single engine airplane, and you're in the co-pilot seat!

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. thnx!
»

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. thnx!
»