24 hours of Travel

Trip Start Dec 08, 2008
Trip End Dec 24, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hello everybody! I just wanted to make a quick post to let everybody know that we've made it through all of our flights back to the US safely. Only to land in one of the worst winter storms in the pacific northwest in quite awhile.

We've been traveling for more than 24 hours straight. We got to the Delhi airport at 11:30 PM on the 23rd (local time) and waited around until 3:30AM for our flight. I gotta say that the international terminal in Delhi is strikingly different than the domestic terminal. The international terminal looks a lot like most of the other international airports we've been in, with gigantic duty-free shops selling overpriced crap (seriously, who is going to spend $2400 USD on a bottle of whiskey at an airport in Delhi?) and they have obviously worked hard at making the food stalls appear to be something that would appeal to a westerner on both taste and hygenic levels.

We partially passed out time by watching the last half of a bollywood movie called "Jhoom Barabar Jhoom" which we've been told a dozen different times in a horrible movie, but it's got great music and I kinda wanted to see what it was about. We watched the first half at Devika's house before coming to the airport, and at that point, I was seriously thinking that this movie was just a big train wreck. But now I'm not so sure. I kinda want to write more about it, but I'm already kinda digressing, and it's just another reason why Rebecca and I should start a bollywood review blog.

So after the four hours of waiting for the first flight, we had an eight hour flight to london. On this flight was the most significant security concern I've ever seen on a flight since 9/11 and the British Airways staff just blew it off like it was nothing. It really pissed me off actually, and I kinda want to write a letter to the London Times or whatever to let them know what a joke all this security bullshit is.

Here is what happened. First off, I've gotta say that I've never seen such volumous amount of carry-on luggage as the two flights to and from India. I don't know what it is, but it's like every single Indian person was traveling with one of those gigantic carry-on bags, and they would have a second bag almost as large to count as their "purse or laptop" it was so absurd it was downright stupid. I really wish they would enforce the carry-on restrictions. And it's not like they were doing the whole "lets put everything on carry-on in case our luggage gets lost", because I watched these same people pull off the largest check-luggage I've ever seen as well. So anyway, the result of this absurd volume of carry-on baggage is that there is no room on the airplane for it. And every single one of them gets on and starts stressing about where they are going to put all their crap. And after all the overhead bins are starting to get full, people start getting snappy. They don't really bark at each other, but they definitely start tossing stuff around and reorganizing bins trying to make sure every square inch of space is absolutely crammed. This also stresses out the flight crew, so it would be better for everybody if they would just enforce the rules at the time of check-in.

Ok, so that's the background situation. The security scare is that this one gentleman right in front of me had the flight crew come up and ask him if it was his carry-on in some room in the back of the plane. The stewardess came and told him he couldn't put it there, and this guy just played dumb. So a man came up to him and started asking him "How did you get in that room? Who let you into that room? Did you know it's a violation of federal law for a passenger to enter that room?" And that should have been the end of it in my opinion. As soon as he admitted putting in his stuff in this special room, they should have stopped the plane, escorted him and his luggage off the plane and done a thourough security check on both of them. But they didn't... this guy just say there playing dumb, like "Oh, I'm sorry" or "but it's too full up here". So this male flight-crew man actually personally took this guy's luggage and hauled it up to the first-class section and found some overhead bin up there and stashed it up there. And this dude just got to sit in his chair and watch the whole thing. At that point I was pretty upset because I wanted to ask the crew "who is this guy?" "Do you know his background" and specially "Did you even look inside the bag??" But they were freaking out trying to get everything else ready, so I let it slide.

But then it gets even worse. Ok, this dude sitting in front of me, he was obviously trying to look like a Sikh, because he was wearing a turban. We've seen dozens and dozens of Sikhs on our plane and train flights in India these past couple of weeks. So that's nothing special. But after seeing all the Sikhs I've seen, I have noticed that most of them (if not all of them) are very meticulous about their turban. It is usually immaculated wrapped and folded and tucked. But sitting right behind this guy and I noticed that his turban was really quite sloppy. He had hair sticking out and the fabric kind of haphazardly wrapped, so it was wringled and blunging in places and not very even. So that was kinda suspicious by itself, but I let that slide too. But then, right as the captain announces "we've got 20 minutes until we land in London" I look forward and notice that this guy sitting in front of me as disappeared.... AND the fabric of his turban is lying crumpled up in his seat. Yeah, you could say that I was freaking out inside a little. Rebecca noticed me stressing out and I told her the whole story. So started scanning all the people that were still standing waiting for the restroom, and I realized the brilliance a person with ill intent starting the flight with a turban on. Because as soon as they take it off they are really hard to identify. I didn't see anybody I thought might have been this guy, so I made a mental note of where the emengency exits were, and I scanned around real quick to see if I could spot any large imposing men that might be recruited if there was going to be an issue on the plane, and I was about the hop up and alert the flight crew to this whole suspiciousness, and then the dude came out of the bathroom and sat back in his seat. He had short hair (Siks are supposed to keep their hair long) and looked very average. Nothing really looked out of sort and we were just about to land, so I sat to see what would happen, and it was a normal landing like any other....

Except... we were a little ahead of schedule, so the plane before us in our stall wasn't done yet, so we had to wait on the tarmac, not moving, for about half an hour. These old ladies were trying to get up and go use the bathroom, but as soon as they stood up and flight crew would rush over and force them to sit back down again. It was absolutely stupid!! They frreak out about the security concerns of a little old lady wanting to use the lieu, but this other guy that had all the signs of something really serious and they ignored it. Just infuriating.

So anyway, we landed and what was noon for our internal clocks was just approaching breakfast time for Londonites. So we found this cafe at Heathrow and I tried my hand at a big english breakfast. Wooo... that was interesting. I definitely like their bacon better... but red beans with breakfast? It'll take me a while to get used to that one.

We wandered around the infamous teminal 5, trying not to get completely nauseated every time we walked past the overpowering perfume counters. And we actually found this odd play structure thing for kids at one end (see the pictures). It was like a big 12ftx12ft squishy pad with different shapes on top of it. There weren't any kids around, so Rebecca says "I want to sit on it" so she did. There were these wavy sections on the other side that looked perfect for laying on, so we went over to that side and promptly fell asleep. It was actually quite comfortable (more comfortable that some of the beds we've slept on this trip) and we think more airports should have these play structures at every gate.

After we got situated, the two scandinavian guys that were sitting on this thing kinda stretched out like they were going to nap as well, along with an asian woman at the other end, so all together there were about 5 people napping on this thing. About an hour later, I woke up and there were people sitting in most of the seats surrounding this thing, because it looked like a plane was getting ready to fly out of this gate. And there were also about 7 or 8 little tikes running around jumping up and down on the side we weren't napping on. So without a word, we all kinda hopped up, gathered our things and went out seperate directions.

We went back to the giraffe cafe for lunch and I was really hungry to get a hamburger (You can't get beef in India). So we both tried their burger and it was probably the dryest, most boring tasting burger I've ever had in my life. They tried really hard, it had a fancy poppy seed bun and onions and all the trimmings, but for one, I forgot they don't have tillamook cheese in England, so their cheddar was pretty boring, and the whole combination of flavors was just kinda meh. I totally would recommend against trying the burgers at Heathrow.

After our 7 hour layover in Terminal 5, we finally got on our plane for Seattle. That flight was about 9.5 hours, and when we flew over Greenland, the ground was actually visible, and Rebecca spotted giant cracks in the ice at one point. They must have been like 60 or 80 miles long. That was kinda cool. The flight continued over northern Canada and as we approached Seattle, the turbulence started up and continued pretty consistently until we hit the ground. It was interesting approaching Seattle in the middle of the day when everything was under a sheet of snow. That was kinda cool also, but as we shot down the runway, seeing all the icy and slushy tracks through the snow kinda hammered home just how harrowing it must be to land a plane in frozen conditions.

Off the plane, collected baggage in one of the stupidest baggage handling systems I've seen yet. And then we got a ride from out hotel. Now the big mystery was whether my car was going to work after being in a deep freeze for the past week. I took the ice bucket from our hotel room, put on tons of layers (remember I packed for warm weather, not this sub-zero stuff) and headed out to the car. It took about 45 mintues to scoop off the 8 inches of snow accumulated on my car. And when I checked the radiator water, it was still liquid, so much celebration there. The car actually started right up and was fully functional, so it looks like Rebecca and I will be braving I-5 tomorrow to get her to the Portland airport so she can fly back out to visit her family in Florida.
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starlagurl on

Love the stuff you guys did to kill time in Heathrow. Great blog post, it's featured on http://blog.travelpod.com today.

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

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