The last couple of weeks have involved a lot in the way of air travel and family visits. Once again, I flew Air Canada to Seattle by way of Vancouver, and once again I had an incredibly uncomfortable seat in an older plane. I left Beijing at around 6pm on Friday, and got to Vancouver around 1pm the same day, nearly an hour late, but I managed to make the connection to my next flight. I got to Seattle a couple hours before leaving Beijing. Gotta love those time zones.
In my continuing chronicles of Things No One Is Interested In, I got a new digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. I picked it because it’s reasonably priced and has a really good lens with 10x zoom. I also made substantial raids involving used books and CDs.
On Tuesday the 18th, I took a quick flight to Spokane to visit my parents and brother.
Here’s one of the new areas at SeaTac. If you look closely, you can see a grand piano off in the distance. There was someone playing Christmas tunes on it.
It was quite a bit colder in Spokane, and snowing. Here are a couple of pictures taken on the drive between Spokane and St. John.
That evening we returned to Spokane and had dinner with my brother at the Applebee’s near his house. And after that, it was back to St. John for the night.
The next day, my parents took me back up to Spokane for my flight back to Seattle. On the way, we saw this pair of elk run across the road and into a field.
Here are a few shots taken around Seattle.
This is a view of the downtown area taken from an angle you don’t often see.
We went shopping at the big Uwajimaya market. It’s more Japanese than Chinese, but there are lots of familiar items.
One night we accidentally wandered into the Christmas Dimension.
An obligatory cat picture: Baby with her holiday bell.
And so soon it seemed like I’d been in the US only a couple days, it was time to return to China, again by way of Vancouver.
Like SeaTac, the Vancouver airport has undergone some remodeling since the last time I passed through (when going through US Customs at YVR, you don't pass by here). Nifty fish tank.
Luckily I was on a newer plane for the long flight this time, with a better seat and an individual entertainment screen. I took advantage of that and watched Ratatouille (wonderful) and The Simpsons Movie (lots of fun). After making an attempt at sleep, I watched a German film called Eden that was another take on the idea found in Like Water for Chocolate and Chocolat: a chef can cook food that transfers strong erotic feelings to those who eat it. He meets a waitress who is married to a frustrated, unhappy man and has a handicapped daughter. The woman becomes friends with the chef, her husband gets needlessly jealous, and catastrophe ensues, though not necessarily in the ways you expect. It was an enjoyable little film. I also watched a Hong Kong movie called Ming Ming that seemed like a kind of avant-garde martial arts experiment.
And returning, I of course encountered the flip side of the time zone shift, leaving Seattle Friday morning and arriving in Beijing late Saturday afternoon after about 14 hours of travel.
From what I’ve read, I just missed a couple of really horrid air quality days in Beijing. On Saturday when I arrived, it was pretty decent, and today is sunny and clear. Temperatures have been hanging just below freezing, and there is often a biting wind. Ah, winter in the capital!