Monday, April 8, 2013

Flying High

Shutters on the Beach
Departure is kickoff to courage. One makes a mental checklist of all the ailments one has or might indulge in depending on the areas to be visited: typhoid? yellow fever?  dengue fever? malaria? I already suffered malaria in 1962 in East Africa. Welp, doesn’t matter, said the infectious disease doctor.  Other kinds of mosquitos thrive in SouthEast Asia.
Kobe owns Staples
I dreaded the about-to-happen18 plus hours (not including the five hour flight from Memphis to Los Angeles) inside a metal tomb with tiny windows. It would do wonders for working on my needlepoint bears for the Grizzlies House at St. Jude. But would acerbate the feet cramps that come along with too much stagnation. 
At least I had an overnight in Los Angeles. The usual routine is a dash to the Beverly Hot Springs Spa to get scrubbed and washed with things sour and sweet at the mean hands of the doers, then a visit with a dear friend - and jewelry designer to the stars - especially country western singers - Aviva Carmy, a quick pass through my favorite store Fred Segals before a major meal with my travel guide and friend Jim Williams (who has guided me to the base camp of Mt. Everest in 2008 and around Mt. Kailish in Tibet last May.)
Scrim with Video of Lakers
In all the preparation, I had missed the fact that the team of my heart, Memphis Grizzlies, was to play at the Lakers den of iniquity - Staples Center - this very night. Wow. Bucket List in action. The concierge at Shutters (best hotel in California - smack on the sandy beach with an atmosphere of Cape Cod) was able to secure two seats on Row A right behind my team! Within touching distance!  In the Staples Center! I couldn’t believe it. I wondered if anyone on the team would notice I was there. I wondered if I’d be the only obnoxious loudmouth cheering for Tony, Mark, Mike, Zbo and the guys. A NBA fan driver had said Memphis needed to bring back Pau to play alongside his brother. Interesting concept.  
It was slowing mowing through Friday traffic in LA. Staples Center, completely decorated outside in a Kobe and the Lakers  fashion, is humongous and packs in so many layers of folk I couldn’t see the top. There was a line at the entrance but we swaggered in and the ushers said unanimously - oh - to the floor. It was too good to be true. But it
Pow wow of the greatest

was. And Jack Nicholson was a dozen seats away in his special 6000 dollar floor seat. There may have been others but I was just happy to see the Grizzlies. The yellow Jerseys of former famed  Lakers hung high on one wall next to the banners of NBA championships. Yellow and purple were in every nook and cranny. I wore a blue and white scarf.
Coach smiled a salutation when he saw me. As did Mark. Tony was concentrating on his shooting as usual. Zbo smiled. He was being heckled, as was Tony, from someone a few rows behind.  Time for the anthem. Weird trio. Very California. Then this enormous round white curtain falls from the sky to the floor and videos of Kobe and his crew are shown on it. A bit gauche. But impressive. And the game was on. Tough play. Great players against great players. One basket victory for the yellow-purple guys. Sigh. But oh what an experience. Thank you Jesus.

Pretty teen in hip Keds
Beach air in Santa Monica was good for the soul. Sun shone with gusto as we motored to Tom Bradley Airport.  Checking in at Thai Airways is always quick and well-attended by the young ladies in orchid colors. It’s my favorite airlines. On their new planes with business class beds everyone wears harnesses - like car seat belts - for takeoff and landing.  What a great idea!! The cross-the-chest harness actually is hooked to the belt across the seat and can be released once in the air. Can we do this in America? Also, the restrooms on Thai Air are so big you can turn around without whopping elbows on the walls. And they smell like jasmine.  The carpets have small lines like a child’s version of birds flying. I kept thinking it was my yarn fallen on the floor.   If you like rice, there was plenty to eat.
Hello Kitty air plane? at Seoul
Our required stop after 13 hours was to be Seoul, South Korea. I grimaced. Would we have to dodge wayward missiles? Would the airport be jammed with tanks and military planes?  I watched four movies, one a charming British film: “Cheerful Weather For the Wedding.”
No missiles. No military. The plane wasn’t even full arriving but was departing. A sign? The Korean airport is huge, precise, friendly. Don’t see morbidly obese people anywhere as in USA terminals. Travelers are thin, well-dressed and the going shoe seems to be a Ked/Converse black one with white stripes on the side and wide shoestrings. Lots of leather jackets on thin boys in tight black jeans.
We are now 12 hours ahead of Memphis in time. Sunday snuck by without a beat. I lost a day. Arriving at 1:30 a.m. on Monday and after this night in the airport hotel - quite spectacularly lit - we return to the airport for the flight to Vientiane, Laos. And the trip begins. 


lsb said...

How do we get on your SoCal to do list?!
Looking forward to following your adventure!
Lynn SB


Sounds as though you are off to a good start. thinking of you,dear friend.Love keeing up through your blog.Enjoy,Hugs, Lou