After a week in Bhutan and several days afterward in Singapore, I’m home for the holidays in the United States of America! I’m so excited to see family and friends, catch up with everyone, get back to the snow and evaluate the personal impacts of living in Singapore. As I spend the coming month in Northern California, will I miss the Singapore steam bath of consistently hot and humid weather? Will I crave a steaming bowl of laksa with a cold beer? Will I yearn for the scent of incense when I step out the front door? Or can my two homes (original and adopted) peacefully coexist in my life, neither one better than the other — just entirely different experiences I love for different reasons?
We’ll see, but flying 8,447 miles across the vast Pacific ocean in about 20 hours door-to-door from SIN to SFO can feel like a bit of a time warp. Yet, there are subtle clues along the way that… Toto, we’re not in Asia anymore. The etiquette and protocol of Asia is often very different from that of America, not to mention that Asia and America are often totally different from the rest of the world. So in the spirit and humor of travel and cultural differences, here are my:
Top Ten Clues You’ve Flown From Asia To America
(I should note, this is flying on an American airline and
all clues were encountered during today’s travels.)
10. Luggage trolleys throughout the airport are free, regardless of arrival or departure. What a concept!
9. Security at the airport, specifically for your flight, is off the charts with no less than SIX baggage checkpoints for transit passengers from SIN > HKG > SFO, including a mandatory search of all hand-carried luggage in Hong Kong. (I’m not complaining.)
8. Passengers queue up for boarding at least 20 minutes before it starts, with marked boarding lanes to queue in, and the order by which people board the aircraft is determined by status, miles, time of check-in and thereby access to a computer and the internet.
7. Regardless of the boarding protocol, a passenger cutting into the boarding queue mid-stream (rather than going to the back of it) is not met with any animosity.
6. In-flight breakfast options are noodles or an omelet.
5. Passengers politely exit the aircraft row by row and no one gets hurt in the process.
4. A passenger rams her luggage trolley into yours and expects YOU to back up and get out of the way. (Interesting for many reasons, I must say.)
3. A passenger trying to cut into the exit queue at Customs and Immigration is met with, “NOW WAY BUDDY. That’s not cool. The back of the line is OVER THERE!”
2. The airport terminal and no less than three radio stations are playing Christmas carols 24/7.
And the number one clue You’ve Flown From Asia To America is:
1. You are devouring a burrito with tomatillo salsa within three hours of landing.
Yay, I’m in America! And I can’t wait to blog throughout the holidays! I’ve got lots to share — more on my trip to Kathmandu, a bundle of nuggets from Bhutan (six days with photography) and holiday flare galore. So let’s hot up the eggnog and get to it! Happy Holidays! It’s great to be home.