Since my last air travel update, slightly more than a month ago, I've been on 20 flights, and in one particularly insert creative adjective here stretch of 19 days, I visited eight different countries.
I added miles to my frequent flyer accounts with Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, and Philippine Airlines, in total more than 30,000 miles in this stretch, and I'll go over 100,000 miles for the year before 2012 is half over. But what are the rewards of all this travel? Let's consider a few highlights.
How about shopping for elusive panda hats in the shadow of the Great Wall of China? These hats, by the way, are not made from real pandas. I practiced my bargaining skills and picked up one of these classy headpieces for about 4,000% less than the original asking price.
One of the cool things about the Great Wall is how it snakes along the top of the ridgelines, meaning that when one is at the Great Wall, one is actually up quite high above the surrounding areas, including much higher than the parking area where one arrives at the Great Wall.
Naturally, one needs to get down. And as I was quite busy and rather short of time, and because I have a habit of living life all the up, I chose to go down from the Great Wall at a high rate of speed. If it were not for the Dutch models ahead of me, this video would have been much shorter. In retrospect, I probably should not have worn my sporting jacket, as it could have been trapped under the runners and a calamity could have ensued.
As it was, however, I did, just barely, make it down safely. And I went, then, to one of Beijing's finest restaurants, for that eponymous dish so associated with China's capital city.
I refer, of course, to Peking Duck. I always like to take the opportunity to order some side dishes at this type of restaurant. A platter of duck feet with mustard sauce is always a good way to start the meal, and one never goes wrong with a big bowl of fried duck hearts, either. Then for the main course we have the skin, and the little pancakes, and all the various things that go with that, the sauces and the vegetables. But it doesn't quite get the adrenaline going like the feet and the hearts do.
I would be at Nuwara Eliya the next week, for what, I have been assured, is the best tea in the world, and then down to Colombo in a rare trip not involving air travel, for a fine blended coconut arrack. Then it was back to Bangkok, arriving just after sunrise for a slow flyover of this massive city. And with it a welcome two week respite from air travel.