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It seemed like a good idea at the time

It seemed like a fun idea at the time, but looking back at the photo, you just gotta wonder...
It seemed like a fun idea at the time, but looking back at the photo, you just gotta wonder… I don’t think places like Tiger Kingdom (in Thailand) could get insurance in the US.
There are probably really good reasons you don’t get to do things like this back home. Perhaps best put by a Calvin & Hobbes strip, in which Calvin asks Hobbes “I wonder why man was put on earth. What’s our purpose? Why are we here?” To which Hobbes, his pet tiger, responds “Tiger Food.”

An interesting day, filled with questionable choices. Not visiting the Tigers; sure, one can easily make arguments about both safety (for people) and conditions (for Tigers), and wonder if maybe they really have been drugged to make them more docile. But that’s much less ethically-challenging than visiting the Karen Hill Tribe, where some (not all) of the women wear those rings around their necks, pushing down on their collarbones and weakening their neck muscles in a way that permanently damages them, and one wonders if having a “village” to visit encourages the practice to continue. Or the monkeys trained to play basketball, ride bikes, walk on their hind legs and various other things that monkeys wouldn’t be doing out in the wild (and given the way they’re all chained, even when doing their shows, makes it easy to believe these monkeys would much rather be someplace else). But the snake place? Aside from the fact that most don’t see snakes as being very high on the list of sentient being potential, the conditions of the snake camp were such that I think a snake really inclined to escape wouldn’t have much trouble doing so.

This was our first, and likely our only, Disneyland Thai-style sort of day here. Tourist-trap stuff, every minute of it, even the night safari park (the only thing we saw today that remotely resembled modern standards for taking care of animals and people both). Tomorrow it will be a visit to the temple on the hill above Chiang Mai, and an evening visit to the Night Bazaar, apparently one of the best places to shop for local-manufactured product in Thailand. Then Saturday we head back to Bangkok (via plane) for a couple final days in Thailand, leaving Monday evening to come home. Right now I feel like I’m ready, but that’s only because I don’t know lies ahead. Some interesting and perhaps thought-provoking things, I’m sure.

And yes, I’m dying to get back on my bike!!!

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More rationalization

And what exactly is this that they served on my Guam to Manila flights? Chicken-something. Edible yes. Tasty no.
And what exactly is this that they served on my Guam to Manila flights? Chicken-something. Edible yes. Tasty no.
There’s more to the story of why someone would fly 16,250 miles and not stay anyplace more than three hours. Most people aren’t going to get this, because they’re more-or-less normal. But if you can stretch your thinking a bit, one of the attractions to spending 48.5 hours on planes, in an uncomfortable seat, eating not-so-great food, and trying to hastily make your way to your next connection in an unfamiliar airport, is this-

Nobody can call me in the air. I’ve got anywhere between 4 and 8 totally uninterrupted hours during which I can do some “heavy” thinking, or not think at all. I can actually read a book. And I can put myself totally at the mercy of other people whose job it is to get me where I’m going. Which, in this case, is nowhere.

Most of my life is so planned out that I don’t get much time to plan, if that makes sense. Sometimes I end up wasting time when I should be working, just because I get so many things going on in a normal day that I feel like I’m going to explode if I keep myself 100% to the task at hand.

Flying “nowhere” really does get me past that, at least for a while. And I will admit that I have a preference for the absurd, for challenges that most wouldn’t want to take on because they’re not something that a reasonable person would want to do. I mean seriously, if you get uncomfortable and fidgety after just an hour in an airplane seat, how can you intellectually face the fact that you’re voluntarily going to be putting in another 47 hours worth? That’s a mental challenge, and seriously, when you can stare down that sort of thing and ride it out, can you imagine what that does for your patience elsewhere? Nothing can stop you!

The other thing this satisfies is my love of figuring out how things work. Systems. Airports alone will tell you a lot about how things work in a given country. And it’s also fun to observe people, and how different they are in, say, a Manila airport than just about anyplace else I’ve ever been. Maybe Cairo comes close. You do start to develop an appreciation for just how nice SFO really is, and how relatively-orderly things like security and finding your gate are here, vs, say, Guam (or Manila).

And finally, one of the greatest things about an epic two-day trip through the air is that feeling you have when you arrive back home. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so great if you weren’t fighting a shoulder that just can’t get comfortable in an airplane seat?

My plane pulled up right underneath me as I type. In one hour it flies me form HNL to LAX. I hope!
My plane pulled up right underneath me as I type. In one hour it flies me form HNL to LAX. I hope!
But for now, it’s time to come home. I’m in the United Club at Honolulu Airport (HNL, but I’m trying to avoid too much jargon), with a red-eye leaving soon for Los Angeles (LAX) followed by a short flight to San Jose, arriving 9:45am. I’m arriving at LAX at about 5am so I’m going to see if I can get my San Jose flight switched to an earlier flight going to San Francisco. Not technically within the rules, but might be possible. That way I can take BART and CalTrain back to Redwood City, so nobody has to drive far to pick me up. We’ll see how it goes. And hopefully I’ll catch some sleep on this flight. So far about 4-5 hours last “night”. Which does bring up the weirdness of time. I left Guam at 7am Friday morning. It’s 8:17pm Thursday as I type this in Hawaii. Weird, eh? –Mike–

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