Tuesday, March 21, 2006

No Going Back Now

Suddenly, it’s all falling into place. I paid for my airline tickets today, so it’s really happening. The flights are all booked and the train tickets are all reserved. That means my itinerary is set. For those following along at home, here’s what it looks like:

May 14: Japan Airlines from San Francisco to Tokyo, arriving Narita on May 15.
(Geeky details: The flight lasts 10 hours and 40 minutes, non-stop. The plane will be a 747. There are two meals.)

This week will be spent in and around Tokyo with my friend John and his S.O., who is Japanese. Stops include Kamakura, Hakone hot spring, and the Sanja festival in Tokyo.

May 21: Japan Airlines from Tokyo to Shanghai.
(Geeky details: The flight lasts three hours and 10 minutes, non-stop. The plane will be a 777. There’s meal.)

I’ll meet P. that same day in Shanghai. Together we will make a pilgrimage to the White Rabbit factory. After that….I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a museum or something.

May 28: China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai to Beijing.
(Geeky details: The non-stop flight lasts one hour and fifty minutes. The plane will be a 737. There’s a snack.)

In Beijing, I will meet up with John, and I also hope to visit the father of a friend who’s teaching math at a middle school there. I’ll also look up a T.A. of mine from college.

June 3: John and I leave Beijing on the Trans-Siberian train #23.

June 4: Arrive in Ulan Batar, Mongolia.
We will spend three nights in the area, two in U.B., and one in a yurt in a nomad camp (apparently cushier than it sounds).

June 7: leave Ulan Batar on train #363.

June 9: Arrive Irkutsk, Russia.
Irkutsk is the jumping-off point for Lake Baikal. We’ll spend one night at a home-stay in Irkutsk proper, and two nights with a Buryat family in the village of Bolshoe Goloustnoe, on the shores of the lake.

June 12: Depart Irkutsk on train #9 (the Baikal).

June 15: Arrive Moscow.
We’ll be staying at the AST Hof Hotel. Anyone been there? My mother visited Moscow during the Soviet days, and her stories have set the expectation bar pretty low. As long as the room is not bugged by the KGB and no one has left fish in the nightstand (I’m not making this up), I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

June 18: Overnight train to St. Petersburg.
Here we’re staying at the Vyborgkskaya Hotel. Again, can anyone out there appraise the dead fish situation at this property?

June 23: Scandinavian Airlines from St. Petersburg to Copenhagen.
(Geeky details: The non-stop flight lasts two hours and five minutes. The plane will be an MD-80. I will have to buy snacks. The terrorists have won.)

Later on June 23: Scandinavian Airlines from Copenhagen to Chicago.
(Geeky details: Non-stop flight is five minutes less than nine hours. Aircraft is an A340. There’s a meal and a snack.)

Later still on June 23: Scandinavian Airlines from Chicago to San Francisco.
(Geeky details: Non-stop, four-and-a-half-hour flight. Because it’s a domestic flight, I will have to pay for food. I hope they take Mongolian tögrögs. Plane is another A340.)

ETA: I should be home around midnight on June 23--or perhaps during the first few minutes of June 24. Nothing like starting out your pride weekend with a sleep deficit.

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