Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Eat Sleep Shit Week (day 6)

The Eat-Sleep-Shit Week is a movement by Jolene Lai to relive the hey-days of blogging, to recover the ability or inclination to spew endless sentences about anything and everything.

"The rules are that you must type everything that happened to you in the past 24 hours and you can add any tid bits from the previous days."- Jolene Lai


My flight was due to leave Beijing at 4.30 pm, which means I had to check in at 2.30 pm. The journey from Tianjin to Beijing takes approximately 3 hours by bus, so the latest bus I could take was the 11.30 am bus.

Airport buses depart Tianjin at 6am, 8am, 10am and 2 pm, so I left at 9.30am to take the 10 am bus.

The bus was seriously fucked up. At least one quarter of the seats were faulty ā€“ some of the mounting bolts locking the seats to the chassis were missing, and the chairs flopped back and forth on the remaining one or two bolts. Good thing the bus was not even quarter full, so passengers could choose to sit away from the cibai-ed chairs.

And then there was the drive train. The gearbox was in a sorry state ā€“ I could feel the dog gears painfully engaging the drive gears with a tortured clunk (the whole chassis thumps a bit, which is not that surprising given the flimsy state of the structure); when the driver starts off with a bit of clutch slip on first gear the entire vehicle judders nastily with seats, loose air vent louvres and shelves all juddering and shaking in a discordant chord.

Despite the shortcomings, it was definitely not a dangerous contraption to travel in. The engine was too miserable to produce the required power to propel that thing to any dangerous speeds, and the clogged roads generally restrict the speed of other vehicles anyway.

Arrival at Beijing International Airport was timely and uneventful. After getting some food, I checked in. Paper signs taped at each counter announced the grim news.

Due to delayed arrival of incoming flight, MH 379 from PEK to KUL will be rescheduled for 2035.

Holy shit. That's a delay of... 4 hours. To placate travellers, a meal voucher was given out to passangers, redeemable during dinner time (after 5 pm).

Let's have some numbers; we all love numbers and patterns, don't we?

Since 2003, I have flown on the following flights which HAVE NOT been delayed:
7 flights from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne;
7 flights from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur;
1 flight from Melbourne to Brisbane;
1 flight from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur;
1 flight from Melbourne to Singapore;
1 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing;
1 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong;
1 flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur;
1 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Shanghai;

Since 2003, I have flown on the following flights which HAVE been delayed:
1 flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur;
1 flight from Singapore to Melbourne;
2 flights from Beijing to KL;
2 flights from Shanghai to Tianjin;
1 flight from Tianjin to Shanghai;

There's a slightly disturbing inference to be made here: air travel in China is fantastically unreliable.

At the airport, I finished reading Congo (Michael Crichton) and realised how fantastically researched that sub-plots were. This is in contrast to the progressively dodgier books Timeline and Prey (oh, don't touch Prey, the plot is too absurd yet at times predictable). With nothing to do, I fished out the computer and start typing this.

At the moment, I'm quite impressed by the battery life of this new thing. The power indicator says 3 hours! My old Compaq's half dead battery would find 20 minutes a challenge. But then, that machine has been working endlessly since mid-2003.

Oh ya, I haven't blogged about this new computer! (oh shit, my blogging style has taken a dramatic change since this Eat Sleep Shit week. I blame you, Jolene.) This thing is an almost-standard Dell Vostro 1500 speced-up to a 2 GHz dual core processor and 2 GB of memory. Adobe Photoshop has not been installed yet but I believe the RAM and processing power would make RAW processing a breeze.

After sitting at the boarding gate for a good two hours (possibly more), I went in search of a water cooler. I did find one, but on the way I also passed by a Starbucks branch.

I haven't had a decent (non-instant) coffee in about 2 months, and decided to give Starbucks a try. I am regretting every bit of the 31 Yuan (RM 13.95) I spent on that large iced mocha; the Buddha was right- (material) attachments give more trouble than they are worth. The iced drink was not ice-blended. The mocha was dull; a Neslo Ais (iced Nescafe and Milo) would have been a close enough substitute for that stuff.

I'll squeeze a real cup from my aunt Sabrina's coffee machine. At the press of a button, it automatically grinds a correct quantity of coffee beans, passes pressurised hot water through the grounds to produce espresso, then drops a compressed little cylinder of spent grounds into an internal waste bin.

This post was written at Beijing International Airport.

End note: I arrived at KLIA at 3.30 am, and got home at 5am. Having started the journey at 9.30am the previous day, the bus ride, check-in time, flight delay, flight time, baggage collection, immigration and the drive home added up to 20 hours. And that's just between Tianjin and Petaling Jaya. In that time I could have taken boat to Europe, pfft.