Day 11 - Hong Kong - 🌏 MWT 2017

Thursday September 7th, 2017
Hiked 6.2 miles

2:43 pm

Seatbelt sign is on but no one cares.
I feel safe en-route to Moscow.  Before we took off I thought it was a bit cold so I covered up with my sweater.  I was pleased to see the flight attendant noticed and brought me a blanket. 

Hong kong appeared to me to be a very old, very large, very busy port city. You could see evidence of the East Indian Trading company out all the windows of the airport.  From edge to edge the island looks like docks and large warehouses.  I am amazed by how many sea fork-lifts are bobbing out in the ocean. The airport had people from everywhere in the world.  I noticed people from every country.  English was everywhere and that was not a problem. 

On the plane to Korea I looked out the window as we flew over Hong Kong.  The entire island is lit up like a metropolis at night. You could see the waterline from the lights and a faint reflection of teh city lights against the sea.  There are boats with very bright floodlights out in the sea around the island.  I have no idea what for. 

I ate a big Hong Kong breakfast at the airport.  It consisted of strip steak, eggs, macaroni with gravy, and a spoon full of baked beans.  It was interesting, but I did not care for the gravy on the noodles at all. 

Not too long after our plane took off from Hong Kong there was a lot of turbulence.  The pilot turned on the seatbelt sign but no one took action.  There were a dozen people on the plane just standing around, talking, walking to the bathroom, digging through their luggage or meeting new people. Not one person sat down.  

The very large Russian flight attendant walked up the isle and said in his very booming Russian accent, "Sit down, everybody sit down now. See this light, the seat belt sign is on!  Sit down for your own safety! You! Please! Sit! Now!" Everyone just looked at him like he was making a suggestion, and they seemed amused that he was so worried about their safety.  No one budged.  Not an inch.  Not even enough to show they understood him.  I know they did.  The flight attendant was very clear to point to it so they knew what his voice was booming about.  I suppose it may make for some entertainment if things get real bumpy. 

I placed my backpack in the overhead bin because it appeared that there was extra room.  During the flight the flight attendant was having a problem placing her bag back into the compartment.  I stood up and removed my bag,  I told her I would put it under my seat.  I could not tell if she appreciated it.  I assured her it was totally ok with me. 

I think she might have.  She never smiled directly at me once, but as we started to land in Moscow she touched my arm and gave me a very decorative chocolate with the airline on it.  I think she might have seen my gesture as kind, but smiling is not as common I am noticing. I thumbed through the magazines and all the models were not smiling.  They looked just as beautiful as any, but they all looked like they could hold that pose for eternity.  

4:07 pm

We are flying somewhere over Mongolia right now.  This is a very long flight.  I am enjoying the Russian TV.  Right now I am trying to enjoy a children's show about a toy maker that makes toys come to life, except he makes little toy soldiers to take over OZ.  I can't really follow it and we haven't made it to the land of OZ yet.  I don't think I am going to. Instead I will watch the movie about a Russian Chef that is a comedy. 

8:20 pm

I think it is rather interesting how we are chasing the sun. It is 8pm where I took off in hong kong and yet we will be landing in Moscow in the afternoon.

I have enjoyed watching Russian television. I noticed they have a lot of romantic movies, the comedy is limited but I enjoyed it. I found the news most enjoyable. Especially the part when they talked about trump.  They said, "Trump continues to be a social media icon."  They went on about how many hits his twitter account is getting and then show a clip where it appears Trump's wife does not want to hold his hand.  They show it again in instant replay and discuss how Trump's relationship is the subject of the day on social media.

I thought it was cool that Russia has a tank bi-athelon. Where tank drivers from other militaries show up on an obstacle course to show off their might and skill. Apparently a lot of Russian Armies are competing.  The Russian General explicitly challenged the E.U. and the U.S. to participate.  I do not know how our hardware would hold up one to one, but it would be interesting to watch. I did not actually watch an episode, but it looked a lot like a Russian Ice Road Truckers, only with tanks. 

I am glad I am taking this trip all at once.  I feel like when you go somewhere and then come back home you miss out on the appreciation between cultures. Such as being happy to have a robot clean my ass gently in Korea compared to squatting over the toilet and dousing my whole backside with the dish-hose mounted by the toilet. Or the appreciation I feel for everyone I meet that put in the effort to understand some english. 

I'm tired. I kind of wish I had more time to spend in Russia. Perhaps I will have to get a visa next time and stay awhile. I haven't made it to their airport yet though so maybe that is presumptuous.

7:57 pm

We flew all around Moscow for 20 minutes before landing.
Russia was far too short a visit.  We were 20 minutes late landing as I watched us do patterns around Moscow on the flight tracker monitor. When I was walking out of the the plane an agent looked at my ticket and said, "Your gate may change."  I did not get far out of the plane before I was in line again.  This time it was a small concrete room with an x-ray machine such as we have in our security. There is only one belt and it is going very very slowly.  There looks to be about 6 officials near the scanner.  I take off all the metal I am wearing and place it in a bin.  Then place my backpack behind it.  My backpack passed without hesitation and I did not set off the metal detector.  The next stop was the immigration window. I walked up to the window and saw a very beautiful blonde agent with very intense blue eyes.  Her head never moved and she showed no sign of twitching.  She picked up my passport without moving her neck and held it low.  Her eyes darted rhythmically and at an even tempo back and forth between my passport picture and my face.  This happened for about 20 seconds.  It seemed like I could begin how many times her eyes were moving.  I cracked.  If I had been doing anything wrong I would not have been able to hide it from her.  

Check out the eyes on Russian M&M's. 
I thought to myself, "I bet she doesn't recognize me because I am clean shaven in my passport and right now I have a goatee." I remembered that the Koreans had a facial recognition software that could not be certain and they had to ask for another form of ID.   I laugh from the tension and say, "I have another ID, if that helps." I lay my Drivers license on the counter. She picked it up and her eyes darted the same back and forth.  I stayed as serious as possible this time so she could study my face. Only 20 seconds of this eye interrogation and I didn't say anything else stupid so she pushed my ID and passport back to me without saying anything. 

I walk halfway through the airport which looks like a very high end mall.  There are very luxurious items, duty free, everywhere, in fact the walking area is very small to make room for their awesome merchandise. 

I went to an ATM and got some cash so I could buy some food. Then I noticed my gate was the  complete other end of the airport.  I walked quickly, and that is hard to do in this mall.  It is very crowded and I have to remind myself I am actually in an airport not a mall. 

I made it to my gate and everyone is eager to get on.  I feel a bit suspicious with my blue passport, everyone else has a red one. The only difference I saw in the way I was treated was when I handed my passport to the boarding agent.  He strained his neck over and pointed at his monitor like he was looking for something then let me board.