29 November 2008

The journey to Hong Kong

I am at my hotel in Hong Kong - a bit behind schedule. I'm very glad to be here. Here's a recap of my journey from Seoul.

As indicated in my last post, I took a deluxe airport bus to Incheon, which took Expressway 1 into Seoul to take advantage of the bus lane, before taking Olympic Expressway and Expressway 130 into the airport. I slept much of the way - and enjoyed the ride.

No problems at Incheon whatsoever. The colonial government relies on massive databases of personal data to police its subjects, and as I am a mere short-term visitor with no South Korean Internet portal accounts, it's much more difficult to police the truth that I send out to the world. Basically, I had obeyed the immigration laws and the terms of my visa without incurring unsettled debts or commiting a crime, so I had no problem clearing immigration.

My flight was on Asiana Airlines, with codeshare United and South African flight numbers. With my new Premier status at United, my boarding pass and luggage tag specifically identified me as a Star Silver customer. It was delayed for connecting passengers from a delayed flight from Los Angeles, then again for a no-show whose checked luggage had to be unloaded. The passengers were overwhelmingly Hong Kongers; very few South Koreans were on board, thanks to the crash of the won. The equipment was an Airbus 330 (HL7740), my first flight on a large Airbus; I liked its ergonomics, though hated its surprisingly low ceiling. It featured video-on-demand, but didn't feature much for the rather short 3 1/2-hour flight, so I did some music mixes again, starting with some Elton John, then proceeded to playing some chess.

Here's my flight projectory. I'm about to start some chess games - and I'm just over halfway from Jeju Island to Taipei. After taking off from Incheon to the north, and getting a brief look at the total darkness of North Korea's Hwanghae Provinces, I hugged the western coastline of South Korea and exited its airspace at Jeju Island. I felt very glad to be flying into East China Sea; from now on, everything was brand-new territory for me, and moreover, the 2MB colonial government no longer had jurisdiction over me.

The rest of the flight took me straight over Taipei, following the northwestern Taiwan coast, before staying a bit of a distance off of the southern Chinese coast all the way to Hong Kong. I was surprised at how bright the lights of Fujian Province were, even from about 80 miles offshore; the coastal Chinese lights stayed respectable all the way to Hong Kong. And as I continued to spend time over the Taiwan Strait, I was reminded of all the progress being made between China and Taiwan. Sure, both sides have very problematic governments that need lots more work, and the very future of Taiwan is still up in the air, but they both know that it's best to work together, set ideological differences aside, and prosper together. And the opposing political factions in Taiwan are fighting over whether it's better to work closely with Beijing, or explore Taiwan's native roots further; both are very noble causes, unlike the outright treason that makes up South Korea's various "New Right" movements.

From now on, to honor the various New Right movements within South Korea, whenever there is a conflict between South Korea and Japan over geography, I will use Japanese conventions. I already use "Sea of Japan," the internationally accepted current name for the sea separating the two countries, even though the Korean convention uses the "East Sea." And Dokdo will now be considered Takeshima, part of Japan's Shimane Prefecture. Since the New Right considers pro-independence movement and nationalism to be on par with vicious terrorism, and considers Japanese rule (and US Republican benevolence today as well) to be extremely beneficial to Korea, South Korea can pretty much forget about East Sea and Dokdo as long as the New Rights call the shots. And seriously, all the pro-Dokdo protests are poorly organized like afterthoughts, and the organizers drive around in Lexuses anyway!

Nevertheless, my bitterness of the past few days melted away upon the sight of the world-famous Hong Kong harbor, as I approached. Both the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island and the bright lights of Kowloon were absolutely gorgeous. I then shot out west halfway out over the mouth of the Pearl River, getting some glimpses of even the casino lights of Macau, before turning back east to land at the airport, which is not as pretty as Incheon but certainly just as modern and logical. Too bad that I'll never get to experience the thrill of landing at Kai Tak, which closed a decade ago; landing there used to involve a last-minute turn over a residential area. A ride on the super-modern Airport Express train and the somewhat British-feeling MTR subway system brought me to Kowloon, where I am staying. And honestly, any subway system other than Seoul Metro is good enough for me right now.

Loved hearing the various Cantonese conversations - even though they tend to be way too loud sometimes. Also loved hearing announcements in Cantonese, English, and Mandarin on the Airport Express. (Kowloon - 九龍 - is Jiulong in Mandarin!) Also love the fact that the mass transit system runs until after 1AM. And unlike in South Korea, English announcements and signs actually make sense here. I do have to give the Koreans some credit however; Asiana's flight was excellent as usual, with plenty of Christmas carols for boarding and disembarking, and great inflight food. As my plane did its takeoff roll at Incheon, I was also able to spot a United 777 that had just come in from San Francisco - always a welcome reminder of my past travels in other parts of the world.

Hong Kong greeted me warmly. That's something some other cities, namely Amsterdam with its immigrant thugs, will never be able to claim. I look forward to some great days ahead here. Reality does demand that I must return to Seoul and 2MB's treasonous arms after a few days, but after ten more days of that, I will be back in Los Angeles - where I'll look forward to doing some real ass-kicking.