Monday, December 25, 2006

To Vancouver

So I proceed to the boarding area for my Vancouver flight via Air Canada. Comfy as usual as is the standard for Hong Kong International Airport. Folks at the counter start announcing stuff in English. I have to listen real hard to understand what they're saying. I admire the effort though. Boarding begins and I'm on another airplane.

So this time I get a window chair. A middle aged lady is already seated. So as I start to lift my bag, I notice that there are already several packs of what appear to be candy or food in the compartment. It's not a lot but it's occupied the entire floor area of the space. So the steward tells me that I can put my stuff in a compartment further back. Another passenger seemed to start complaining on my behalf that the way the lady placed her things wasn't very efficient. Perhaps to diffuse the situation, the steward just says that the plane isn't full anyway so it's ok. No problem with me too since I didn't want to be bothered by someone I'll be sitting beside for the next 11 hours. As I load my stuff, the steward notes that it's quite a big bag. Anyway, it fits into the large center compartments without much problems.

So for this plane, the crew is mostly composed of Caucasian people who I assume to be senior members. Then, there were a couple of probably Chinese crew members, one of which seemed to be being mentored by the others. They seemed very friendly and very eager to serve. They also joke around with passengers on occasion. Though to be fair to the Cathay Pacific crew, it's probably harder to seem enthusiastic if you're not using your first language.

So I was seated by the window but there was this huge thing called a wing that obstructed my view. It was ok since I still got a good view of the city while we were in the air. Hong Kong looks quite nice and hopefully I'll get the chance to go there again in my lifetime. I also remember seeing another city or town a while after seeing the edge of Hong Kong. However for most of the flight, all I would see is ocean, ocean, ocean, clouds, clouds, clouds. It would also be nighttime soon so I would see nothing, nothing, nothing.

One thing I would call superior with Cathay Pacific's plane would be the video monitors. Cathay had a screen for each seat, while Air Canada's would have a main screen up front with another overhead screen at the center. They would show several movies and shows during the flight. I remember "My Super Ex-Girlfriend", "The Devil Wears Prada" and a Hong Kong comedy I can't really remember. They also had a feature on Canadian rock band Nickelback. I don't really remember much about what was shown because I started sleeping when I got sick of the view (or when there was no view). I've heard Meryl Streep was great in Devil Wears Prada but Super Ex-Girlfriend seemed like a train wreck from what I saw.

Food was so-so. First, they served this junk food, can't remember the name. I just remember the packaging was about airplanes. Art seemed to be 50's/60's style. I also got another taste of "Chicken or Beef". I answered this time. I picked beef. It was beef with noodles. Chicken came with rice. It wasn't bad, but also not good. Sidings usually included some fruits, salad. I remember having Häagen-Dazs as dessert. They also served Nissin Cup Noodles between meals. I had to use the chopsticks which I was never good at. Thankfully I did fine and was mess-free. Finally they served breakfast which was Eggs or congee. I picked eggs of course. Again, it was unremarkable. I now noticed that airplane food is somewhat themed after the country departed from. Presumably because that's where it is prepared.

Now back to my "flight-mate". She seemed nice enough. She probably thought I was from Hong Kong as she first talked to me in Chinese (Sorry, I don't know if it was Mandarin, Cantonese, Fookien or whatever. I'll just call it Chinese.) I think she was asking me if I wanted to read the newspaper (Chinese language). We never talked afterwards. Later on, the Chinese stewardess was talking to her in Chinese. She then asked me something in Chinese too. I'm thinking, I never got this in the Philippines. I'll just assume it's because the flight was from Hong Kong so it's easier for them to assume I'm from there.

Now, for the new flyer in me, I don't know what's normal or bad turbulence. So I wasn't very amused with it. The plane was shaking quite a bit and the crew was calm of course. And the seatbelt lights occasionally switch on after some of the bigger shakes. This became more frequent as we first entered Vancouver. As I looked out the window, I started imagining extreme things like the wing suddenly flying off the plane. Thankfully this was just paranoia on my part.

So we finally crossed the Canadian coastline. Before this, I noticed the ocean had lots of white spots on it. I can only assume it was icy? I finally caught glimpse of land. Especially memorable was my first sighting of actual snow scattered amongst the trees and hills. It was quite a nice view most of the time. The rest of the time, I'm imagining looking down and our plane's wreckage is scattered all over the place.

Finally we landed. Not so many thuds so I guess it was a good landing. Again, I allowed most of the other passengers to leave before I got my things. Off the bridge and I am now in Vancouver International Airport.

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