Friday, September 2, 2011

Trip to the US: Getting There

We flew Delta (an American airline and thus not any good), which does not allow its passengers to book bulkhead seats ahead of time. As we were traveling with a six-month-old, it seemed crucial to get a bassinet and bulkhead seat for the flight, so we had to arrive at the airport at 3:30 am. Ouch.

So we arose at 2:30 in the morning, got dressed, got little R, collected our luggage (3 checked bags plus stroller, diaper bag, computer bag and backpack as carry ons) and stumbled downstairs to our waiting taxi (B ordered the night before). B forgot to lock the door but luckily I reminded him to do it, and after a quick return trip in the elevator, we were ready.

We arrived at Changi airport promptly, checked in (no waiting since it was 3:30 AM!) and went through various security checkpoints. We went to Starbucks for breakfast (two frappucinos; caffeine=good) and then waited to board (which started at 5 am, so the wait was not long). Little R was in a great mood despite having woken up so early.

We seated ourselves in our bulkhead seats and took the 7 hour flight to Japan, next to a perfectly behaved 2 or 3 year old Japanese girl. Not a sound out of her the entire flight: she slept, she ate, she colored, she looked at books, she played (quietly). It was completely impressive: I don't know how the Japanese do it.

Unfortunately, little R was not so perfect. She didn't really cry, but fussed a lot (making whining noises), so I fed her a lot, so she pooped a lot, so I had to change her constantly. She also did not sleep (about 2 hours total), hating our painfully acquired bassinet with a great passion. We used it as a storage facility as she screamed bloody murder every time we tried to put her in it.

Overall, though, the flight wasn't that bad: traveling to Japan from Singapore is totally doable. It was a newer plane, so we each had a personal TV (very important for long flights) and it was fairly clean. I couldn't eat any of the food though, as it all had dairy in it. Supposedly over 70% of the global population is lactose intolerant, so I don't understand why this is always the case.

We changed planes in Tokyo, where we cleared customs (skipping the line due to little R: thanks Japan!), bought a token present for our friends getting married (sweet potato liquor in a raccoon dog bottle: very cute), and got some food I could eat. It was really good, considering we were at an airport. I had vegetable, prawn and fish tempura (as always, pumpkin tempura was my favorite), miso soup, rice, pickles, and tiny mushrooms and green beans mixed in a vinegar sauce. The layover was only 2 hours, so before long we boarded our plane for San Francisco.

This leg was not so good. It was an old plane, so not personal TVs; instead, a big bright screen right in front of us kept waking little R up as it played bad movie after bad movie (for instance, a truly terrible one about a housewife with a racehorse). The stewardess was mean and yelled at the hapless Southeast Asian students behind us for not understanding English well several times. I felt embarrassed by their introduction to the US. (Also, what was her problem? The flight was from TOKYO, so of course many passengers won't be fluent in English.)

Little R foiled my plans for her by continuing not to sleep (perhaps 3 hours out of the next 11). Now she was exhausted and grumpy, and could only be kept quiet with continuous bouncing until our arms hurt. I was also exhausted and entertained fantasies of leaving her with B and going to sleep in the bathroom in peace (or alternatively, of leaving her in the bathroom). I did try to nap while B bounced her, but her noises of unhappiness/discomfort kept me up.

Finally we arrived at 10 am (on the same day due to the International Date Line), and quickly cleared customs and collected our luggage. We were met by my father and whisked off to Walnut Creek.

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