Awake before 9am. Internet in bed for a bit.
I pooped outside for the first time ever! No anacondas. After the anacondas are the custard.
I changed back into my sole pair of jeans. I'll be sweaty till I get to LA but then I'll be cold there. The cuffs still reek of volcanic dust.
The hotel provides a complimentary umbrella.
We both left the room and checked out at 11am. Toomas was staying in Bali for a few days, but at a different hotel. Near reception I saw Barry. Additional goodbye hugs.
I asked the guy at the desk to call a taxi to the airport. Actually he had a driver ready to go for 200,000 Rp. I think a regular metered taxi would have been 150,000 Rp but this was convenient. Left 11:07am. Waved goodbye to Barry through the window. Well done, sir.
Arrived at the airport (Denpasar, DPS, same one we flew into yesterday) 11:38am. I chilled for a bit just inside the entrance because my 3:45pm flight wasn't yet listed on the monitors re which counters to check in at.
Chili pepper on the floor. So, so sad.
Decided to get a burger. I was hungry, and I knew I'd be getting 3 more free meals on flights on this 40-hour day, but I needed food. Another bad narrow burger with watery toppings.
From my table at the burger place. This airport has exquisite exits. That snake (Poodawg's term for the line of people at the international exit picking up people) is so sad. Why would anyone arrange for pickup in a strange land when getting from the airport to the hotel is the scariest and most exciting thing about travelling to an unfamiliar country?
Checked in for my flight 1:30pm. Through security quick.
My instinct is to whine about Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving. But hey, I'm on a Hindu island in a Muslim country and they're wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, because they're not complete dicks. Not combining them into "Happy Holidays". Reminds me of when I did a podcast with Adam Feuerberg and when I left that filthy Jew wished this heartless atheist a Merry Christmas. Christmas is a universal secular holiday. Muslims recognize it. Hindus recognize it. Americans should recognize it.
(I'm using FrontPage 2000 to create this travelogue and it flagged "podcast" for spelling. I want to get to know a girl who is younger than this version of FrontPage.)
Indians were incessantly posing for photos in front of this. One family member after another. Photos are supposed to show people your view of the world, not someone else's view of the world being blocked by you. I took this after they finally left.
Control tower. Nice.
Every airport should have a Hard Rock. If you have extra time to kill, it's a fun and nutritious place to kill that time. I didn't on this trip. But it will always remind me of the Tampa airport last year when Loob and I saw that Gin Wigmore video.
I forgot that most people on these trips are in the midst of travelling for weeks or months at a time, and combine tours, and just hang out. I'm still doing travel wrong.
I'm pretty sure I forgot to brush my hair this morning. It'll get smooshed around so no one will notice. (I noticed later in the day that I had a ball of dried blood on my scalp. I think I bumped my head more than once last night.)
Embarked the plane. Many tan white hotties on this plane. I'm sitting next to a white dude.
Left the gate 3:47pm (2 min late).
During the pre-flight announcements we were instructed "please inform flight attendants of any irregularity". Pronouncing "irregularity" has to be the absolute toughest part of the job for any Chinese person.
Out the window on the right/east side on this 5hr15min flight I saw Orion gradually erect himself!
When the drink cart came around the white guy next to me (who was wearing a hoodie over a hat) ordered an orange juice. Flight attendant: "With ice?" White guy: "No ice." I absolutely should have pulled an Alton Benes on him: "I'll have an orange juice with plenty of ice." But I'd already decided on wine. Got a 3/4-full cup.
That guy later got a veg meal, and the next time the drink cart came around he ordered tonic water but they were out so he accepted a ginger ale in its place, again specifying no ice. I don't like anything about this guy.
As close as I could get to the moment I crossed the equator, over the Indonesian part of Borneo. It was updating every second (of time) in 7-8" (of arc) increments. No equatorial fart. I think the time went back an hour based on GPS because this was more than an hour after takeoff (I remember estimating it would happen sometime after 5pm Bali/Taipei time). I didn't know the iPhone had that feature--I thought it didn't adjust the clock until you turned on cell service or Wi-Fi at your destination. This never happened before but I assume it's because I was pinging GPS when I used the Compass app.
Flew over the Sulu Sea. Oh my!
When the cart came around with the normal meaty food I got chicken pasta (which was actually turkey pasta) and another 3/4 cup of wine.
Landed in Taipei. It was announced that electronic cigarettes are prohibited in Taiwan. Nice! To the gate 9:01pm.
Bought another Coke in the airport for NT$20. Still have NT$30 left for the next time I'm here. Layover was 2hr50min.
Boarded the flight back to LAX. Turns out 69K isn't the Leave Me the Fuck Alone Seat--I thought the plane from LAX had 69 rows, but this one has 74. But, empty seat next to me!
The video shown repeat during boarding was Christmas music. Oh come on. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Joy To the World and Rudolph. And yet some Americans are terrified of saying "Christmas".
Left the gate 12:01am (11 minutes late, which is the equivalent of about 4 hours on a US domestic flight). And this immediately became 8:01am LA time. Departing Monday the 25th, arriving Sunday the 24th. I assume Marvin Barnes never flew this route.
The flights went out just before takeoff. I assumed that meant sleepytime was at the start of the flight, and meals would be served later. I thought I might nap, but not too long and I didn't take any PM pills because I still wanted to be tired when I got home around 10pm LA so I could sleep at a normal time "tonight". But then the lights came on.
Evidently I did doze off relatively quickly because I became aware that the meal cart had just passed me. Good thing I had that burger in Bali. I slept on and off till 2:45pm LA time. I figured that was late enough to sleep. The sun had been up for a while and we're all gonna go to sleep again after we land. I started opening my window a bit to let light in to adjust my body clock. Thought it was odd that no one else was doing this. Then the flight attendant made me shut the window. Why? Evidently she and everyone else still thinks it's 6:45am tomorrow. That explains why we were told "breakfast" would be served 2.5 hr before arrival, or 5pm LA time. Everyone apparently intends for their sleep to be fucked up for the next few days.
Since I was awake and couldn't look out the window, I played blackjack on the entertainment system. I turned $500 into $10M (I still got it) but the program was buggy and paid multiples of my bet. Like if the dealer busted I got double, and sometimes on splits or double downs I got 3x. No fun that way.
Breakfast was shredded pork and noodles and a brown hard-boiled egg. In my top 20% of all airplane meals. The butter for the roll was salted, which reminds me, on the DPS-TPE flight we got unsalted butter from New Zealand. Who the hell unsalts butter? A few months ago I read an article that said unsalted butter is better for cooking, because it's harder to estimate how much salt to add later if it's already in the butter. Malarkey! [As I type this Dec 1, I'm seeing that word a lot on social media. Evidently "No Malarkey" is the name of Joe Biden's bus tour. Note to readers in the future: Joe Biden was the guy who ran against Donald Trump in 2020.] There's not that much butter in salt. Unsalted butter is an abomination. I rebuke unsalted butter in the name of Jesus. There was no point in wine right now so I got orange juice, since we're supposed to pretend it's tomorrow morning and this is breakfast. Flight attendant did not ask if I wanted ice. Dammit!
I didn't look at the time but I think we arrived at the gate at LAX within a few minutes of the scheduled 7:35pm
Immigration for Americans and Canadians is automated now. The kiosk asks a few questions about what you're bringing into the country, you scan your passport, pose for a photo, and your info gets printed on a receipt. Discovered I don't look that great in a photo after an 11hr45min flight. So then you wait in a fast-moving line (less than a minute) for one agent who collects your receipt. Agent: "Are you bringing any fruit into the country?" Me: "No." Agent: "Welcome back." That was smooth. Back in the US 8:07pm. The countdown to the next trip begins anew.
My bag came out quick. Unlike my last two times coming back from SE Asia (both also on China Air via Taipei), I didn't get pulled aside so they could check my bag for drugs or ladyboys. Maybe when you return from a country where drugs incur the death penalty, they figure it's not worth it to check. DHS didn't open my bag but I did, so I could take out my jacket and put it on. Brrrrr! 62°F/17°C in LA. I haven't felt anything this chilly in 10 days, except for the Ngadas/Bromo night.
I knew LAX was making changes in advance of Thanksgiving with the new LAX-it setup. (It's pronounced "el ay exit". I hate people who call LA "El Lay". There's no extra L. Also I hate people who pronounce exit "eg-zit" instead of "ek-sit". And luxury "lug-zhu-ry" instead of "luk-shu-ry". THERE'S NO G IN ANY OF THOSE WORDS.) Anyway, as far as I knew, the change meant anyone intending to leave LAX via Uber, Lyft or taxi now has to board a shuttle that stops at every terminal and takes passengers to a holding lot where they order their ride. But in fact they totally revamped the pickup system. The colored signs they've had on the island for years have been changed. No more waiting for the FlyAway bus under the green sign. Now FlyAway is at the curb just outside the terminal rather than the island.
I almost always use the FlyAway bus to go to and from LAX. Among other areas not near me, it serves Union Station downtown and Hollywood & Vine (both accessible via the subway, roughly 25 min and 5 min from Universal City/Studio City respectively) and Van Nuys (near the regional airport there, an Uber ride that's about as long as Union Station). Hollywood doesn't run as frequently and isn't 24 hours, so invariably I use the Union Station option for getting to LAX. On the way back, it depends on whether the Hollywood bus and/or the subway is still running. Tonight I'm in early enough that I can take the subway (it stops sometime after midnight), and Hollywood is still running, so I figured I'd get on the first bus that showed up, whether Union Station or Hollywood (it's a longer ride to the latter because it's mostly surface streets, but a shorter subway ride after that, so no difference). At the pickup point a Hollywood bus was waiting. I got on, and other people were on it. Then I hear the driver arguing with the curbside agent saying his workday is done and he's off the clock. What is this? Someone got off, and so did I, and I don't know why other people remained on the bus. I yelled at him saying if he's not in service he needs to yank down the sign in the window that says Hollywood. I didn't notice where the fake Hollywood bus went to. Then three consecutive Van Nuys buses came by. Eventually around or after 9pm I got on a Union Station bus.
I noticed earlier that I'd lost a 100 Rp coin (probably at security in Bali) and now I realized I was missing one of the two pens I always carry with me (the one that replaced the one that ran out earlier in this travelogue). I always carry two pens. They came in handy in 1995 when Mike Pilichos and I went to Sunni Gee's party on Landfair Ave in Westwood and he met Julie Brock, and my supplying of a pen facilitated the phone number exchange that led to a 2-year relationship, plus I still had my other pen! Years later I sent Julie a FB friend request and she rejected it within minutes! I didn't realize the breakup was that acrimonious. Mike said she ended it because the relationship wasn't moving to the "next level". Mike's brother: "When they start pulling that level shit, it's time to get out of there." Anyway, I've always wondered why people drop stuff like coins and don't notice it (or don't fix their spelling/grammar mistakes, or otherwise fail to absorb a detail). I figured it was a neurological impairment. But now at age 50 I lost two things on the same day. Is my magnificent brain (one of the 900 fastest in the US by one reckoning) commencing a steep decline? Nope. Reading glasses. I have to wear them most of the time now when doing up-close stuff, like moving stuff in and out of my bags at airports. Glasses of any kind cause you to miss peripheral stuff. I drive wearing glasses very rarely because I'm afraid of missing something on the border where my corrected vision ends and my uncorrected -7.50 vision begins, because there are very different things on either side of that border on account of refraction. I don't get why people wear glasses instead of contacts, because there's a huge difference in safety, unless they lack self-confidence and prefer to hide their face. I've chosen to stay cute and not hide. :)
Crazy girl next to me on FlyAway. There were other open seats but she decided to sit next to me (refer to cute face in previous paragraph). At first she was doing weird hand motions like a really bad interpretive dance (see puppet smack link on the Bandung page). She used some confusing icebreaker about going on a trip before you book it (I asked if she meant like selling a stock short--wrong audience) and then talked about relationships. She's a musician, I'm a comedian. She told me a joke she wrote. Not bad. But standup has nothing to do with jokes. She seemed independent and lonely and nice, but not for me.
Back to my apartment and in the door 10:29pm. There was a "College Men Movers" pen attached to my doorknob with a rubber band, replacing the pen I lost en route. I'm Even Steven. (My friend in government said that episode was on earlier this selfsame day. Putro's Law is still in effect.)
End weight 153.5 lb, but that was after eating a few meals on this 40-hour day. Weighed 155 the next morning wearing jeans and a hoodie (my sleepwear every night the first week back in LA) so probably 151.5-152. So no change.
Final thoughts: I liked Indonesia more than I expected. I don't mean the tourist attractions. I mean just being there. Good vibe. And I failed to appreciate how ridiculously cold Los Angeles is until I got back. And I forgot how easy it is to catch a cold at any time of year when you're on a plan with Taiwanese people. Good tour group, and I wish we didn't have so many early departures and could have talked more. I'm a guy worth talking to. Good night!