Sitting in LAX waiting for the redeye to JFK. I haven't experienced any delays because of increased security. Hanoi's Noibai Airport was not crowded today and everything worked smoothly; Taipei was no problem, either, though they were doing random searches after clearing the gate and before getting on the plane. And LAX was all right, too, in terms of security. The problem here was not security, which was thorough but efficient, but the local infrastructure and Delta Airlines. After clearing Customs (easy), I had to hump my bag three-quarters of a mile to another terminal and haul it up a flight of stairs, then stand in the "bag drop off" line for an hour while three or four agents did triage, pulling out passengers who were about to miss their connecting flights and rushing them through. Oh, and it is possible to run an airline that does not treat its customers like cattle: I flew China Air on this trip and the service was efficient, the food was good (and free), and the airplane clean. I've had the same good experience with Vietnam Airlines and Cathay Pacific. The pilots put us down each time as if we were landing on velvet. Unfortunately, now I have to get on Delta for the final leg of my trip. Later: I'm home now and have slept for about fifteen hours. To cap the trip, Delta didn't manage to get my bag onto the last leg of my flight home, so they had to put it in a van and drive it the 150 miles from the airport to where I live. But it and I have arrived safely after one of my best and most productive trips to Vietnam. Details to follow. Oh, and I absolutely agree with Sam's assessment, in his comment, of travel in Asia versus travel in the US. For my part, I just repeat a little Buddhist mantra: May I be filled with loving kindness, may I be well in body and mind. . .

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

4 thoughts on “Observation”

  1. I relish every opportunity I have to travel to Asia because the act of travelling is a pleasure there. I flew from Singapore to Seoul once on Singapore airlines and found the biz class seat to be more comfortable than the bed I had had in a 5 star hotel in Shanghai. I flew Air New Zealand, economy, back from vacation last year and that was even a pleasure relative to domestic travel.

    But, I dread the return. On the latter trip, the United flight from San Fran to JFK was laughably bad by comparison in every possible way of measuring a flight.

    A coworker of mine hasn’t travelled nearly as much as I have and he gets quite uptight with delays etc. I used to. Now, I treat domestic air travel like I treat the horrific motion sickness I get on boats- I just curl up into a ball, submit, and realize that I am unlikely to die and just have to suffer through it for a pre-determined period of time.

  2. May I be filled with loving kindness, may I be well in body and mind. . .

    I will try this when I fly Newark-Atlanta-Baton Rouge-Dallas-Pheonix-Dallas-Baton Rouge-Memphis-Newark in March

  3. Sam, the rest of the mantra goes: “May I be safe from inner and outer dangers, may I be fully awake in every moment, may I be truly happy and free.” Actually, on an airplane, I’d rather not be awake at all, but I think in Buddhist terms you can be “awake” even while sleeping.

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