Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Trip to Borneo

One of life’s more anxiety filled moments for the more fortunate, is to be waitlisted in Business Class for an international flight up to the very last moment of boarding the aircraft, hoping beyond hope that the upgrade comes through. The agent must wait until the very last moment to see if some shmuck shows up that has paid the full price for a Business Class ticket thereby eliminating one of the available seats for upgrading. United even has the list of names wanting upgrades on one of their computer screens so you can find where you stand on the priority. But when you are listed as #9 you have another anxiety moment because you don’t have any idea how many seats are potentially available and it sure would be better if you were in the top five.

My upgrade status fell from 1K (100,000 miles in one year) to Premier Executive (between 50,000 and 100,000 miles) on March 1st and it is March 2nd., explaining why I am #9 on the list instead of in the top five. Which again points out there is only so much you can control in your life.

There is a group of us huddled around the podium really to bolt to the man in power as all those who already have a secured First or Business Class seat board the aircraft. If you don’t get an upgrade, you know that you will have to go to the end of the economy class line which means by the time you arrive at your assigned seat, the best luggage storage spots will already be taken. And I will be muttering, “why me”?

But there I stand watching the agent’s every move. At that moment, if a halo appeared over the agent, I would fall to my knees and confess that I have been unswerving loyal to United Airlines since 1987 and beg that he has heard my prayers to be one of his chosen few. I realize I have no shame but could not care less.

My name is announced, I hand him my coach seat boarding pass which is somewhat by now anything but pristine, I the agent hands me the golden calf Business Class seat and his halo disappears. I sincerely thank him and an relieved that won’t have to think ill of him for the rest of the trip. My religious conversion is put on hold once again. Back to hedonism.

If you have never flown Business Class for a 10-12 hour flight, you have no idea how much better it is than coach. I could write many words about the benefits, but mere words are totally inadequate. But if recall, rat studies indicate when there is not enough personal space, they go berserk.

The first leg of the flight is to Narita airport in Tokyo and after less than an hour I am on my way to Singapore (Business Class) arriving Changi Airport (the city that never sleeps) shortly after midnight. From the time I get off the airplane to the time I get in a taxi is about 10 minutes. The efficiency, cleanliness, and orderliness in Singapore are models for the rest of the world to follow. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the Singapore government takes an extremely dim view of sex, drugs, and rock and roll but if you can avoid these things (and chewing gum) life there could be pleasant. The city/country sits on the Equator so it is warm/hot year round. It is a tightly controlled democracy with less freedom for error or rebelliousness.

Hotel Re was selected due its price and customer comments as researched from the Internet. In the morning I find the clientele consists of Aussie and UK men in their 30’s who arrive at breakfast promptly at 7 AM, as I do, and are out the door to work with backpacks in hand within 15 minutes. As I wait for my taxi about for the airport between 10:15 and 10:30 several other guests coming into the lobby and they are tourists Western retirees. I imaged they chose the hotel the same way I did. The Internet is changing the world is so many ways. I suppose you have to be my age to be continually being awed this technology which could not have been imaged 30 years ago.

The flight to Jakarta is about 90 minutes and after I long line through customs, I gather my luggage and taxi to the Grand Hyatt to meet Judith who has been having a very successful business trip there while I was off skiing in Vail, the week before. At the Grand Hyatt, we had messages and mine was one of the best I ever had. I felt so alive and energized it took me a while to fall asleep that night.

But off we went at 6:30 in the morning to catch a 8 o’clock flight to Borneo, or more specifically the city of Pelangkaraya, Kalimantan, Indonesia. Kalimantan is north of the island of Java, so once again we are on the Equator.

Judith has booked us on a 4 day boat trip on the Kapuas River and its tributaries just outside Pelangkaraya. After four straight days of boarding airplanes, I look forward to some really, really nice relaxation.

1 comment:

GETkristiLOVE said...

Let's hope that trip gets you back into the 1K club.