it's a long way home

monday morning ash and i got up and took a cab to the bus terminal. it was 90nt and i paid with a 1000nt note, so i gave ash the 410nt and kept the 500nt bill for the airport. i figured he could use it, and i appreciated him dealing with me and spending money he normally wouldn't while i was around. plus i didn't have to worry about him losing face over it since he's american. plus it was a fairly small amount. (unbeknown to him, i'd also slipped 2000nt under the food i'd left behind at his place.) we said our goodbyes and i got on the bus. then the driver asked me which terminal i was going to and i had no idea. fortunately, they had a list (in chinese), so when i told him continental/jla he was able to look it up and tell me. although i'm sure i could have figured it out at the airport. the drive took awhile, and i took a few pictures and some video of people driving into work in taipei (i.e., lots of scooters). i said goodbye to the betel nut (bin-lang) shops and the betel nut beauties/girls (bin-lang xi-shis) working them as we passed. i got to the airport.

i got checked in and had some time, so i bought a mango smoothie and some snack chips (fiery garlic doritos, seafood platter wavy lays, and...hot pepper giant squid? it didn't have much in english on it other than the ingredient list) for a co-worker who'd asked for some weird chips. if i'd planned ahead, i could have gotten some other odder stuff i saw at the 7-11's, but i never bought much of anything to bring back. i didn't buy stuff for anyone else, or myself. i put the chips in my carry-on backpack and headed to my terminal.

i still had 30 minutes or so to wait, and the airport had free wifi, so i used the wifi with my iphone to call my parents via the skype app. thus the call cost me 0.02/min. not bad. (i used both google voice and skype during my trip -- google voice for free text messages, and both google voice and skype for cheap calls to lines in the u.s. they were pretty nice to have, considering calls, data, and texting would have been insanely expensive via my regular phone. of course, i could only use them where i had wi-fi access to the net.)

the plane from taipei to narita was a 747-400, i think. i got a seat on 2nd deck, which i'd never flown on before. the 2nd deck was 3 seats on each side, separated by one aisle. i ended up being the only person on my side of the row. i set near the aisle. i was listening to the music channels they had available, when they played a song i'd heard played at least a couple of times in the clubs in taipei. i'm guessing it is or was popular in the u.s., but i'd never heard it before. anyway, the song will now be forever tied to clubs in taipei that westerners frequent. it's "hotel room service" by miami-based latin rapper/artist pitbull. (i would say the song is probably nsfw...but i guess that depends on where you work :) i started watching the bruce willis film surrogates, but the flight ended in the middle of the movie.

i got off at narita, went through a security check, took a bus to another terminal, got my boarding pass for continental, then proceeded to wait for a couple of hours. narita didn't have free wi-fi. i heard on the paging system that the u.s. had enacted tighter security checks for flights into the u.s. when i went to get on the plane, i had to have my shoes and bag inspected and got wand-checked for metal. i think i had been put in the extra inspection line. this flight was on another 777, and it was pretty full. i had an aisle seat near the very back of the plane, and i saw no open seats. i watched whip it (drew barrymore film about flat-track roller derby), part of bullitt, listened to most of a best of album by the cure, watched another episode of "big bang theory"...and i don't recall what else. i was hoping to sleep on the flight, but i didn't sleep much. it was a d4mn long flight.

we made it into iah about 1:30pm local time. (fun with traveling: i left taipei at 10am mon feb 22nd, left narita at 5:30pm mon feb 22nd, and got into houston at 1:30pm mon feb 22nd.) i walked until i hit customs. the guy asked me why i'd gone to taiwan, what i did, what i was declaring, then welcomed me back to the u.s. it was kind of funny because he had that kind of serious/badass attitude that tends to go with being a cop or military or some kind of authority figure. i picked up my checked bag (which made it fine again) and headed outside.

i called jack, and he and the kids were already in the airport. it took them awhile to figure out where i was, but they eventually got to me and picked me up. they took me to chuy's. after not much sleep for the last 24 hours and a stomach full of mexican food (cheese enchiladas, to be specific), i decided to head home for a nap. i set my alarm for 1.5 hours, since i wanted to try and readjust my sleep patterns to here. that didn't work. i evidently hit the snooze button every 9 minutes for a couple of hours, and around 8:45pm i gave up and turned it off because i decided i could sleep through the night.

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