20 May 2004

Back to Life, Back to Normality…

OK, so I am sitting in San Francisco Airport, at Gate 77A to be precise, right across from Peet’s Coffee and Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, and I am typing the final installment for this current Asian tour. I am looking towards a return to “normal life” with both longing and trepidation. The past weeks have been a time of exploring, of freedom, of interaction and of new and remembered sights, sounds, smells and tastes. But there is a comfort in returning to the interaction and care of a family, to the certainty of a schedule and to the intellectual stimulation of the office.

My flight back was largely uneventful, although it was an adoption flight, with plenty of noisy babies. Once again, though, I must say that I am on the whole unimpressed with United’s “service.” This airline treats passengers like barely animate cargo, like animals or small children that need corralled, cajoled and contained rather than paying customers of a service. In essence, the impression comes across that the flight attendants are exasperated at having to deal with us travelers, like we are idiots or something. This is in stark contrast to the Asian airlines, and may simply reflect the “American” way of doing business. But it is a pretty poor way of doing business.

That said, at least my flight was on time, so there is something positive. But enough about the flight. There are numerous other thoughts, ideas, inspirations and memories spilling over from this trip, but for now, it is time to bring it to a close. The journal will remain online and updated, but focusing more on observing from afar, rather than interacting directly. I will add photos later, if I decide to shell out the cash for a full service plan, and with the photos will come new stories and dredged memories, ideas and comments.

For those who actually read these posts as they came online, I thank you for your indulgence and hope this has given you at least a small glimpse into life in Asia for a foreign traveler, and a bit of a better understanding not only of them, but of me as I interacted. A final note of thanks to my gracious Korean and Chinese hosts, my new friends, my temporary acquaintances and my old friends who were there and indulged a wayward Miguk in his quest for excitement and meaning.

-Yi Sun Shin 040519:1010 (California time)

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