Yes yes that's not a picture of Atlanta... I'll get to that in a bit. Tempting as it is to exaggerate a horror story of my sensational voyage across the world, my trip from Cebu to Atlanta, though tiring, did more than satisfy my expectations.
Hong Kong has a spectacular airport, impressive enough to even overcome its desolate window view. Looking down the length of their terminal is like staring into an enormous, unending tube of silver and pearl. It is like glaring at a portal into the future, complete with flying cars. Boutiques sprinkled throughout the terminal sold all sorts of tempting souvenirs that I had neither the time to consider, nor the currency to purchase. Unfortunately the layover in Hong Kong was hardly an hour and there wasn't time to hardly time to see much more than our surroundings while walking from one gate to the next.
I got no sleep whatsoever on the 13-hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. I'm not even sure if it was nighttime during the trip. The flight attendants got everyone to close the window shades and darken the cabin, so they could dim the lights to wordlessly tell everyone that it's time to sleep. But so rare is the opportunity to fly across the Pacific Ocean, it seems such a waste to spend the time unconscious. There would be plenty of time for that once I've arrived at my destination. Besides, I had no problem keeping myself occupied with the in-flight entertainment, the airline meals, and Final Fantasy VI Advance.
As you may very well have noticed, the handsome man standing in the photograph at the upper right is not in Atlanta. My 10 hour layover in San Francisco was not spent wallowing in boredom at the airport as I had predicted. As it turns out, one of my workmates travelling with me had relatives in San Francisco, and one of them was lucky enough to have the spare time to give us a lightning quick driving tour of the city. This included seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Coit Tower, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, City Hall, the Transamerica Pyramid and downtown San Francisco. And all the while I'm thinking to myself how fortunate and unexpected this all is.
The next step of the journey was the 4-hour nighttime flight from San Francisco to Chicago. It was definitely night this time, and with over 24 hours of awaketime behind me I could no longer resist the urge to slip into blissful slumber. When I next awakened the plane was descending towards Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
The surprising characteristic I notice in all of America's airports is how spartan and utilitarian they are. They don't reach to the skies to impress with high ceilings and flashy architecture like you'd see in Asian airports. It's relatively very plain, very simple, and it works. That's the frustrating thing about America... it's the richest country in the world, and they make it look so easy. Chicago's O'Hare International Aiport is by some measures the busiest airport in the world, but the terminal was so ordinary-looking that I didn't muster the effort to look around the airport at all during my one hour layover.
The last leg of the trip was the quick flight from Chicago to Atlanta. Compared to the others, this one went by in a flash, and before long the plane was back on the ground in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. There we got our rental car, headed north on I-85 passed downtown Atlanta and finally arriving in Duluth.
Yeah, so that's my trip.