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Old 07-10-2005, 04:52 AM   #1
madasacutsnake
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as promised

Day One.

Flew from Adelaide to Sydney. Advantage of living in a small city is that the lack of fear of surface to air missiles makes it possible for passengers to be waved off from a nearby car park. So the last thing I saw as he plane rumbled down the runway was a tiny Troll Princess standing on the bonnet of the car waving goodbye. I cried.

In Sydney I stayed in an Ibis which was as Ibis as they come. There was a weird pre-fabbed bathroom which you stepped up into, a bit like being in a ship’s cabin. I wasn’t up for the two-minute noodles I had packed so I drank some tea, ate some crackers and being entirely-unsure-about-wether-this-was-the-right-thing-to-do-and-oh-boy-that’s-a-lot-of-miles-to-go-all-on-one’s-own (hereafter known as EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO) , I sedated myself for sleep.

Day Two

I missed the 6.30 shuttle on account of some prat in front of me at checkout asking idiotic questions. I don’t miss things, ever, so that pissed me off. Plane was scheduled for 0820 and the next shuttle was at 7am so I eventually decided on a taxi to the airport - and the plane was an hour late, naturally.

At Kingsford Smith, I got my first taste of business class check-in. It was the same as economy, only quicker. I did get to use the business class lounge which would have been pleasant however I was still fixated on EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO and ergo spent most of the time in an unhappy haze. I also think they could learn a lot from Incheon’s beautiful business class lounge and not put flight announcements over the PA. I noticed I was in an airport about the time I pulled up to the doors marked “Departures”. No need to rub it in.

I was flying with Asiana Airlines. I’m not a really excellent flyer and I’m pretty sure that the words “Korean” and “airline” should not appear in the same sentence so I checked out the pilots and plane carefully. The pilots had the correct headgear and epaulettes and the plane was a Boeing 777 with wings that looked reasonably well affixed so I boarded. Joy of joys, the cabin was half empty and the seat next to mine was completely empty. For some reason (*ahem* EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO), I was exhausted and fed up already…….God Bless Mersyndol, out they came. Now, I would recommend Asiana to any-one, firstly because they got me there and back without crashing into the Pacific and secondly because of what happened next; I refused the menu which the stewardess offered and she returned unbidden (like, WTF?!) with earplugs, eye mask, glass of water and put the shades down. I awoke seven hours later and was served an ‘interesting’ Korean banquet (they have very good western food too but I wanted to try the Korean stuff) which consisted half of things I didn’t want to eat and the other half of stuff I was fairly sure I shouldn’t be eating. The appetisers, fresh fruit and cheese were a triumph though.

First thing I noticed upon descent into Korea was the greyness. It was very odd, not smog, not mist, but seemingly humidity. I asked my friend who served there and he said it’s always like that (and a whole lot of other stuff about Korea too, I quickly changed the subject in case he went mad with a gun). As is de rigeur in these places, I and a host of others were shuttled like livestock to a nearby hotel (I decided against the city hotel with the 500 year old bonsai tree) without windows (!). The lack of windows was compensated for with gadgets…….oven thingy, hot and cold water thingy, spa bath with all sorts of buttons, shower with all sorts of buttons, sauna with all sorts of buttons and the now famous toilet with all sorts of buttons.



Amused myself no end then discovered…….a computer! I turned it on with baited breath and lo and behold, let there be internet, woohoo! There was no charge for useage either. The Koreans have a bit of an obsession with slippers (they give you a pair to make the long journey through the metal detector at the airport) and I noticed no less than seven pairs in my hotel room which seemingly slept two. The rest of the room had polished bamboo floors, dark wood accessories and faux paper partitions. Unfortunately, the bed was made of some sort of weird korean ironstone (OK, maybe not but it was hard as rock) and I ended up sleeping with my travel pillow under my hip.

Next morning, not willing to face any more Korean food oddities, and still being quite EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO, I dined on crackers and decided on a walk around the district………………which took up all of half an hour before I decided that the hotel room and the internet were the more attractive option. It was all so grey and I guess a semi-industrial district is not really the highlight of any sightseeing tour. A bit later I was shuttled like livestock back to Incheon. Maybe next time I’ll get to see the 500 year old bonsai tree.

Now the lounge at Incheon as mentioned, does not have intrusive PA announcements. It has instead, a lady playing a grand piano, comfortable lounge chairs, a largish buffet (chicken porridge is apparently a Korean delicacy), plenty of drinks and alcohol and staff coming through every now and again calling for passengers for the next flight to leave. I did leave the comfort of the lounge on one occasion to search the many duty free shops for Al Capone pockets to no avail. I met an American man who complained bitterly (in that funny way that western white men have when abroad in Asian or Arabic countries) about being sent in the wrong direction to the lounge and his wife with a very practiced, frozen, polite smile and dazed look in her eye. He did get my jokes about the porridge though.

More Korean dodgy food (I chose the western options thereafter) and Mersyndol on the plane…………and eleven blissfully unconscious hours later, LAX (insert dramatic music here, most of us in the know would rather endure an axe attack than LAX).

Stand-by for Day Three.
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Last edited by madasacutsnake : 07-10-2005 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 07-10-2005, 05:52 AM   #2
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*stands by eagerly*
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:31 PM   #3
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more MORE!
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Old 07-12-2005, 05:32 PM   #4
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This is great, Mad! Tell us more!
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Knight 1: We are now no longer the Knights who say "Ni".
Knight 2: NI!
Other Knights: Shh....
Knight 1: We are now the Knights who say.... "Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-PTANG! Zoom-Boing! Z'nourrwringmm!"
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Old 07-12-2005, 06:01 PM   #5
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And then what happened?
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Old 07-13-2005, 08:20 AM   #6
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You're such a tease.
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Old 07-13-2005, 10:17 AM   #7
madasacutsnake
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OK, OK!

Day Three

(or A Really Bad Sort of Day).

Flying business class has a lot of advantages not least of which is being allowed out of the death cylinder quicker. Said advantage being debatable of course, when what is outside the death cylinder is LAX (insert more dramatic music here). Unfortunately when you fly from Australia you are pretty much doomed to enter the US via LAX. I’ve heard it said that John Howard only joined the Coalition of the Willing because Dubya lured him in with the promise that all flights from Australia would be re-routed through, well, anywhere but LAX.

The arrivals hall was packed, hot and airless and dominated by a huge American flag hanging from the rafters. Trust me on this, no other country in the world finds it necessary to do this and it pisses people like me off no end. Not because it’s hanging there, because goddamit, this is the US and you can hang your flag anywhere you want but because while it’s hanging there yelling out WELCOME TO THE US OF A WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY, I am standing in a queue, barely able to breathe, hot, exhausted and cranky for three quarters of an hour (and this, by the way, was no different prior to 9/11) and you know what? The last thing I am thinking at that moment is YAY WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY. I think the least they can do is hang say, a Bangladeshi flag up there until you pass by and have forgotten all about it.

Finally, I and my passport and my three pieces of carry-on luggage make it to Rodriguez the Surly and despite my having been reported to the CIA a couple of years ago (another story), and after some curious finger and eye scanning, through into the US. As per usual, our bags had been off-loaded from the carousel quite some time prior and were standing unguarded in the middle of the floor. This also annoys me – for so many reasons. Bah.

Now because this was a quick jetlag stopover, I had booked into the Crowne Plaza at LAX. Bad mistake. Firstly, two of their (empty) darn shuttle buses passed me by. When one deigned to stop and pick me up, it was crammed and we had to make several more stops – to pick up a bunch of very loud and obnoxious young Aussies (bah again at that word) who were off to be summer camp counsellors. Yikes, the hotel was swarming with them. Secondly, my room wasn’t ready. Thirdly, when my room was made ready it just happened to be at the end of Runway One. I was hit by the ambient noise as I opened the door and threw back the curtains to investigate – to find myself almost literally face to face with the pilots of a taking off jumbo.

The pilots happily waved off, I pulled out my rare and ergo precious (remember that, it will come in later), industrial strength earplugs and discovered indeed that the Crowne Plaza do have nice beds. A few hours of sleep later, the bar was looking decidedly attractive. I watched a game of basketball on the big screen TV and laughed when a bloke got elbowed in the face and almost cried. I decided this is why they play basketball and not AFL. It seemed to be a semi-final or something and a lot of people were excited when Detroit won. I was just excited to find that although I didn’t have Spicy’s number on my phone (drat!), I did have Zen's.

So after getting happily schnorked in the bar and feeling pretty brotherly happy for all the Detroiters there, I decided it might be time to revisit bed and hopefully kiss jetlag goodbye. No. This was not to happen. In fact, jetlag was my friend for the whole two weeks I was away. Oddly, I returned home and had no lag whatsoever, I seemingly just didn’t get into the zone at all. Ergo, two hours later, despite vodka and exhaustion it was *BOING, time to bounce*. Of course, the planes taking off outside my window just weren’t helping much either. I even tried the complimentary relaxation CD but gave up when I couldn’t hear it over the engine noise. At 3am, crazy with the thought of having to face LAX again in the morning and combined with some hellish EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO, I decided on more sedation. Result of which was that despite two alarms being set (I once slept through next door’s house burning down) I overslept – never a good scenario when one has several planes to catch.

So, that was the day of misery. Trisherina enters the story tomorrow - all will be happy, happy, happy!
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He really shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all.

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Old 07-13-2005, 06:48 PM   #8
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awww. Why does almost everything having to do with the American government have to be so damned unpleasant? (Not just for people coming into the country, either...)
Can't wait to hear about Trish!
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Old 07-16-2005, 08:35 AM   #9
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*step*bump*step*bump*bump*
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:37 PM   #10
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Day Four

As mentioned, I managed to sleep through two alarms but opened my eyes just in time to find I had approximately 1 3/4 hours until my flight to the Great White North left. I was glad then that I had chosen to stay close by and remarkably the shower/checkout/shuttle routine went like clockwork and deposited me at the terminal with plenty of time to check-in. I'd decided on Air Canada and as we pulled up outside the terminal with the maple leaf I thought, now, this, this is getting exciting. By the end of today, I get to see trisherina and Canada! What more could you ask for?

Check-in was probably only as painful as necessary - a lot of carting of bags through X-ray, watching them being loaded and a long wait at security. The security hall had a 9/11 wooden block quilt on either wall, just in case any-one thought to complain, I presume. I had a chance to have a good look at them while waiting. I'd seen a fellow with a "Remember 9/11 " sticker on his bag on the shuttle and looked up to see he was an American Airlines pilot. I'm not sure what comment to make here - just that it was sobering to see these things first-hand having (obviously) been geographically removed from the events until that point.

None of which was as scary as the huge black Helga guarding the X-ray machine. She seemed to have a strict routine which she was barking at people "shoes off, bag on belt, keys and phone in the box!" and I and the woman behind me had watched several people felled when they screwed it up. We were both hoping that we would be rerouted to another machine but alas, Helga it was. We took one look at each other and in a flagrant breach of the rules, marched up together. Helga decided to let it slide when we executed the shoes, bag, phone routine with precision - we thought she was going to hold up a perfect ten score-card she looked that pleased. Once through, my fellow passenger and I high-fived each other and went on our separate ways.

As is the worldwide norm, my flight was delayed by about a half an hour which gave me a chance to have a look at a mercan paper which some-one had left behind. Cover story was about a fellow who had been sacked because his employers found his on-line blog. (Jaysus if my bosses ever found the stuff I write about work getting sacked would be the least of my worries). Eventually made it onto the plane where some surly French Canadian types pulled out a crate and threw packets of pretzels at us. Tried to sleep for the three hours it took to fly to Calgary. Gave up on sleeping and climbed over my fellow passenger to stretch my legs. He seemed pipped about this but it was nothing compared to how pipped he was when I almost immediately climbed back over him because of turbulence (note - always pay the $2 to preselect seats on-line otherwise you end up with the middle seat which sucks). He was a bit of pr*ck anyway, he wouldn’t lend the other fellow in our row his pen to write out the customs card. I lent him my Viagra pen and despite the language barrier we had a bit of a laugh. Made it to Calgary intact and by this time I was feeling a bit lonesome so I was glad to at least be in the same country as some-one I sort of knew. Now. I had been told at LAX that my bags were booked through to Edmonton. Which to me, means my bags are booked through to Edmonton. And seeing as I had precisely twenty minutes to catch my connection to Edmonton, I rushed through passport control (hello Snake, there was a big clue) and dashed to my gate at the other end of the airport. Which incidentally is a lovely airport in typical Canadian style with lots of natural rock walls and water features. As is the worldwide norm, my flight was delayed by about a half an hour.

Finally, finally I was boarding my flight to Edmonton - a window seat to boot. I watched the scenery with interest; the land is flat as a pancake, miles and miles of crop growing prairie. The pilot informed us there was a lightning storm over Red Deer but nothing bothered our little plane nor the surly French Canadians who managed to pass out glasses of water. (Not having a go - they have been taking lessons from Qantas is all I am saying. Gone are the glamorous days of air travel). And finally, finally, I was landing in Edmonton. I counted the days on my fingers as the plane landed - three and a half days real time in travelling. Next time I will pick a quicker route. Practically flew off the plane (enough is enough is enough!) - wondered if trisherina would be at the gate - nope not there. Got on the escalator which I remembered so well from an episode of eLove (which I had watched particulary because it featured Edmonton. There's a half hour of my life I want back) rode it to the bottom, no trisherina. Yikes! I've been abandoned! Was walking and reaching for phone when some-one alongside said "Snake!" (well actually she said my real name because it's kind of tacky to call each other by user ID's irl, right?) AND THERE SHE WAS!!!! We hugged and I got to meet Ratlet and hugged some more.

It went downhill a bit from there because my bag didn't appear because remember, I had been told it was booked through to Edmonton not "it's booked through to Edmonton but you will need to clear customs at Calgary". Air Canada sorted it out in a reasonably jiffyish amount of time. Bag turned up at 11pm that night via courier at trisherina's house which is a long way from the airport - pretty good service considering I was the one who farked it up to start with.

Happily assured that the bag situation was under control, we set off from the airport. And in the car was Katie the Wonder Dog, border collie extraordinaire! Ratlet presented me with a bag of beaver droppings (maple syrup coated nuts) and trisherina presented me with a fanny bag which was a private joke centring on the fact that a "fanny" in Australia is not a bottom but something else entirely. It kept us entertained. We went the scenic route and as we hit Wayne Gretsky Drive, I pointed out that even I knew who Wayne Gretsky was. And we made it to trisherina's house on the lake. We met the Flanders which was an unexpected bonus. Trisherina and I had had a conversation about how the daughter writes "I love Jesus" in chalk on the driveway and I had said "I'd get out there and draw a huge penis on your driveway", I think trisherina may have been a bit nervous about me meeting them. But as she said, I behaved. (I'd been told by a psychic that I would visit some-one far north from here, in a house with big windows overlooking a lake. She also told me I would like it so much that I would visit again and again. Poor trisherina). "Oh look swans!" I said. "Errrrrrrrm" says trisherina, "Canada geese".

Ratman saved the day by turning up with spicy Thai beef soup and I gave trisherina a cheese plate with Wolf Blass labels embedded. Labels which I had hair dryered off the bottles myself as Wolf is the only winemaker here who doesn't give his labels out. Ratman got a Port Power beanie which he pronounced a "touque", and a singing stubbie holder. When in doubt, go tacky. Seeing as the sun doesn't set until about 2am in June in Canada there was plenty of time for a walk around the lake and a perve at the neighbours' gardens. It's always weird seeing unfamiliar plants. Just something that always unsettles me a bit. Like yep, I really am a long way from home. So that made the EUAWTWTRTTDAOBTALOMTGAOOO set in a bit and I was glad of the grog and home movie theatre on offer when we returned. Yes, Ratman built a home movie theatre. And it's very, very cool. Not cool enough to keep me awake though and I never will find out how that episode of Firefly ended. Air Canada delivered my bag and I found my bed. But couldn't sleep. At about 1am I hear trisherina say "STUPID DOG". Katie the wonder dog had spewed up her pig's ear. I decided to take advantage of the moment and ask for sleeping pills (was pretty sure she would have some good sh*t and she did, only it was Xanax and they are deadly poisonous if you need to be more than barely functional in the 24 hours after popping one).

Slept. Sort of . Eventually.
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Old 03-08-2006, 10:26 PM   #11
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Old 03-08-2006, 11:56 PM   #12
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Aw. She's not a stupid dog at all!
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Old 03-09-2006, 03:36 PM   #13
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Speaking of cliff hangers...Another 8 months till Day 5!?

I wonder if she ever woke up...
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Old 05-04-2006, 12:12 AM   #14
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Yes I did you cheeky sod.

Day Five

Woke to a quiet house. Apparently I’d missed the departure of Rat Man and Ratlet who were off to work and school. Went in search of coffee – somehow made it down the stairs without aid of caffeine. Luckily for me, trisherina appeared from the basement and supplied me with same and an English muffin to boot. Trisherina suggested we proceed to Command Central to check message boards. Wheeeeee what better way to start the day?

Trisherina had decided that we should check out the Whyte Ave area of Edmonton so we packed up a very willing Wonder Dog and vroomed off. One vrooms when Trisherina is at the wheel. First stop was the bank and that all important first try of one’s PIN whence overseas. Now. I always seem to get some-one in front of me who needs to consider at great length wether they require cheque or savings and then what amount and then somehow manage to screw it up and have to start over. Transpires that this is a global curse. Eventually the FFS vibes I gave off were strong enough to cause the woman in front of me to press cancel and flee. Hurray! I tried out my PIN. It worked. This is a very important point as if I had not worked I would have been royally rooted. Armed with CDN I stocked up on batteries for my digicam (it never did work thus all my holiday pics are other people’s – with the exception of Frieda’s Korean toilet) and we strolled the Avenue. It was a beautiful sunny day made suddenly brighter by the discovery of an underground (literally) collectable shop. *Sings These Are a Few of My Favourite Things*. Wonder Dog was left in the care of a beggar who was given a dollar and stern instructions from trisherina “not to let any-one touch her” and a promise of another dollar upon safe return of dog. I buried myself in old stuff. Trisherina found a fantastic old African chair with elephant upholstery for a really great price but she didn’t buy it NO NO. Sans African chair (bah) we re-emerged to a beggar crisis; “A couple of people touched the dog, lady! THEY TOUCHED HER!!”. Trisherina magnanimously gave him a dollar anyway seeing as the Wonder Dog was being returned whole albeit petted.

Now Mersyndol is my drug of choice and I was running dangerously low. Trisherina expressed doubts about its existence above the 40th parallel and we both decided that if it existed it would certainly be called something else. Chemist and lunch was in order and behold opposite the donair place (I discovered trisherina means “yiros” when she says donair) was a chemist. Box in hand I looked beseechingly at the lady behind the counter who pulled from a secret compartment under the desk…….a box of Mersyndol…..at half the price I pay here! There was however a mysterious phone call made before I was allowed the box. I can only assume it was something to do with the even more mysterious Australian system of asking you to write your name and address on a piece of paper before you receive Mersyndol. I’ve always imagined that they are filed somewhere in Canberra so maybe that’s where she was ringing. I was dead happy anyway and we filled up on cheese donairs while reading a street newspaper.

Then we found cheese shop. The importance of cheese can never be underestimated. A cheese shop, I tell you. They even have maple syrup flavoured cheese. Some hot and heavy cheese porn followed bow chikka bow. Basic human cheese needs met it was already time to retrieve Ratlet from school which was way cool because I got to see what a real Canadian school looked like. And then I got to see what a real 7/11 looked like as jet leg was rearing its ugly head and screaming “coffeeeee!!”. Um, it was all I imagined and more……………

Ratlet rollerbladed around the lake. I repacked bags ready for departure for Jasper the following day and rolled some ciggies which were greeted with a HOLY MACKEREL from trisherina which was heard two floors up. Meh.

Did I mention its still light at 1am in Canada in summer? You don’t die from jet lag, you just wish you were dead.
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Old 05-04-2006, 12:58 AM   #15
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The chair was ZEBRA, and I didn't mean people couldn't PET the dog, just that ABDUCTION was to be strictly discouraged. Yeesh!

Shoulda bought the damned chair.
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