Culture

20 06 2009

I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me during the flight to Quito. She and her family are going to the Galapagos Island on a ten day tour. For those of you lacking in geographical prowess, the Galapagos are a chain of islands off the coast of Ecuador. This year marks the 200 year birth of Charles Darwin and 150 year anniversary of his book The Origin of Species.


map_galapagos_islands

My seat mate lives in London and works in a museum restoring 14th century art and sculpture. She was born in Israel, grew up in Houston and has traveled around the world. She is highly educated with two master’s degrees in Art and Neuroscience (I was intimidated talking to such a highly educated person). As she shared her story, I started thinking “I almost missed the opportunity of a lifetime to travel during this stage of my life”. Here she was sharing about her experiences traveling in Europe, going to museums and the theatre, speaking foreign languages and engaging new cultures with such joy and I just soaked it up. As we shared stories, she informed me that I maybe eligible to get a British Passport since I was born in Hong Kong. I already knew that I can get a Chinese Passport but this was new to me. The reason I write this is because of traveling and culture. As a possible British citizen, I may be able to travel through the E.U. without a visa. This cuts through red tape and I won’t be seen as an uninformed Yankee. I am also eligible to work in the U.K. if opportunities arise. Woohoo and cheerrio!

british passport

hkpassport

Culture is such a neat gift that God has given us. Can you imagine if we were all created speaking the same language and shared common experiences? We would be so dull and boring. But because of Babel, we can now travel the world and be open to learning new languages, traditions, history and meet fascinating people.

By the way, I learned that most Europeans have a minimum 25 days of holiday. My seat mate can accrue up to 50 days!!! So ask your boss for more vacation time (you deserve it!), save up some money and buy a plane ticket to somewhere you have always wanted to visit.

I’m going to research and try to get two more passports!


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Glamorous = Flying First Class

20 06 2009

I had the best surprise as I boarded my flight to Quito. I dread long flights and car rides. Back in 2001, I drove my rice rocket (aka Honda Civic) from Castro Valley, CA to Dallas, TX without cruise control and in the middle of August! Thankfully my ga-ja (big sis) volunteered to do the road trip with me. Twenty nine hours later, we were in Dallas. I vowed never to do that again. So as I got ready for this flight to Quito, I prepared with sleep pills, gum, movies and books. I also mentally prepared for flying in economy (also called sardine class).


economyclass

To my surprise and tears of joy, I looked at my ticket and realized that I was flying first class! I have never flown first class before and immediately The Wedding Singer starring Adam Sandler popped into my mind.


firstclass

Let me start off with the seats. They’re wide, spacious and leather. I have arm rests that you would normally find sitting in a comfy chair at Starbucks. I can actually recline to sleep. Then there is the leg room. I could cross my legs without having to adjust and contort my body as if I was trying to do yoga. And finally there are the food and drinks. They bring you drinks before the plane takes off, the liquor is free and flowing and there is silverware and glass. The meal was incredible. I had a caesar salad, lobster appetizer, and beef tips with asparagus. To compliment my meal, a glass of white wine. For dessert, the flight attendant brought me cheesecake topped with seasonal berries. I think I pinched myself a couple of times to be sure it was real!

feetfirstclass

firstclassdrink

firstclassfood

Meanwhile the poor people sitting in coach were munching on stale bread and cardboard meat squished six per row. If you ever get the chance to be upgraded to first class, take it! You will never want to fly economy again.

This is the start of a great trip – truly GLAMOROUS.