Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to Malaysia via Tokyo and Singapore

One of our sons has the worst luck with cars. Shortly after posting the last blog we received a phone call asking us to meet him on the side of the Loop 610 freeway and pick up the baby and our granddaughter because they had just been rear-ended -- in their new BMW. Since the car that hit them was not drivable, both drivers had to wait at the scene until the police showed up to take the report, about an hour later. Luckily no one was injured in our son's car, just sore. They were all buckled up and the baby was in a top-of-the-line car carrier. The baby was flopped forward and backward in the crash but did not suffer any injuries. Now that infant car carrier must be discarded and a new one purchased. Things are so different now than when my kids were infants and babies rode in those old-fashioned infant car seats with the flip-over tops and toy steering wheels. Thankfully. infant car seats are much safer now.

They were rear-ended by a young girl who was driving with her right leg in a temporary full-leg brace. How bright is that!! Both her air bags deployed so she received the typical bruising from the air bags. Our son's car is one of the new clean-air diesels by BMW. It was the first one sold in Houston and I think that girl's insurance company is going to be surprised at how much it will end up costing to repair what looks like minimal damage. This car has active head rests and they deployed in the crash. Since this is such a new car, the BMW dealership isn't even sure if the head rests can be re-set after a crash or if the seats including headrests must be replaced. Fancy cars; fancy prices.

We picked up our visas at the Chinese consulate a few days before our flight back to the boat. That turned out to be a very simple process. Glad to have it taken care of. Now, if we can just decide where and when to arrange a trip. I would like to see the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Sunday morning we arrived at the airport more than 3 hours before our scheduled departure, only to learn that our flight was delayed more than 5 hours. I overheard other passengers talking and learned that this flight is quite often 5 hours late departing on weekends. I think Continental must have a scheduling problem with this particular flight. Bill has a lifetime membership at the President's Club so we had a comfortable place to sit and wait those 8 hours.

The 12-hour flight to Tokyo (Narita) went smoothly. Bill slept but I was wide awake the entire trip and watched 4 movies. Of course, we missed our connecting flight to Singapore. Continental put us into a hotel for the night and had booked us on the first flight to Singapore the next morning on ANA (Al Nippon Airways). There was time for an early breakfast before taking the shuttle back to the airport. Bill opted for traditional western-style breakfast fare, but I decided to eat a Japanese style breakfast since we were in Japan. The roasted salmon steaks and grilled squid were delicious, even if it was only 6 a.m.

We were way over the luggage limitation on ANA and they wanted to charge us a very hefty fee; but Bill explained that the rule is that the baggage allowance is whatever applied on our originating flight and that Continental allows two 50-lb bags per person on international flights. It took almost an hour to get our four 45-lb bags checked with ANA, but at least they did it with typical Japanese polite smiles on their faces.

Another 4 hour wait for this flight; then 8 hours flying time to Singapore. The marina was sending a private car to pick us up at the Singapore airport, so we stood around waiting for another hour after arrival. The car was delayed in extra-heavy traffic in Singapore, and we could certainly see why as we drove back through Singapore towards Malaysia. Four hours later we arrived back at the marina. This trip normally takes one hour. We had dinner at the marina cafe and crashed for the night. The overnight layover in Tokyo helped us avoid any jet lag. We slept all night and awoke at 5 a.m. with no jet lag whatsoever.

Today was like Christmas morning. We order various things all during the year and have them shipped to our son's house. Then when we make the annual trip home for Christmas we pick up everything purchased during the past year. Even though we maintain a spreadsheet of items ordered, there are always surprises -- usually clothes, books or DVDs. So today was like Christmas morning as we unpacked the 4 large duffel bags and discovered what all we had bought during the past year. Finding a home for everything was challenging. This boat is getting too full. Our new rule is that nothing can be purchased unless an equal weight item is discarded.

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