Last year, I went on a trip to Asia. Where do I start? I'll start at the beginning.
This was the first international flight I'd taken in awhile, a flight that lasted 14 hours. I was going to be backpacking, so I didn't bring a lot of entertainment options. I just let them pummel me with whatever cinematic glory they pumped through the cabin screens (It was Her, because I'm lucky). In fact, I limited myself to bringing something to read, a notebook (like, made of paper), and a Doritos bag that I wanted to bring in perfect condition to my friend Rebecca who was hosting me in Shanghai. I treated that Doritos bag like it like a fragile, malleable sculpture made of squishy, gold. Squishy, cheesey gold.
Luckily I gave myself a little copywriting job so that I had something to do on the plane. How cool is that!? I bristled because my entire plane ticket was now paid for, as long as I was able to convince myself that the plane ticket cost me $50.
Let's talk about Philippine Airlines. Even a seasoned, nearly zombie-fied video editor like myself has to admit: sitting for 14 hours is a challenge. I do believe that the airline lead everybody in some miniscule hand and feet-stretching exercises (let's call it metacarpal Crossfit), so A+ for that. The very polite flight attendant had an interesting vernacular, in that she used the word "please" with total abandon. "Thanks for putting on your seatbelt, please," was a phrase I heard. "Please, would you like another cookie, please?" Can one just say please anytime they want and become a better person? It's something to please try, please.
The reason I feared for my life was because my eating/sitting ratio was hitting dangerous levels. The food was probably the best I had on any of the flights–they gave a Western option and a delicious Asian option for each meal, complete with a dessert–but again, was this necessarily the best thing at the time? When your energy expenditure is about 15 calories for the entire 14 hours (created by chewing, of course), imbibing about 3,000 calories can be scary. I remember sleeping peacefully when suddenly being woken up by, "Here's your meal, please." I just ate, right? Didn't I just eat? Truthfully, I had no idea.
The problem was that I was traveling West, so I was literally traveling back in time. The plane unravelled the sun so that my 14 hour flight was all daytime. The sun shown through the windows indefinitely, as if we were traveling along the speed of light. The concept of time was somewhat of a cruel joke. I'd fall asleep, wake, eat, fall asleep, wake, eat, like some sort of Kafka-esque cruise ship buffet. How many times did one need to eat in the span of 15 hours? Philippine Airlines says as many times as possible. I was scared for my life. I knew that by the time I landed, I would become one of the humans from Wall-E.
I had a cookie with my last meal, but still the attendant came down the aisle. "Would you like one more cookie? We have more." Anybody who knows me knows I would never turn down a scrumptious cookie. Fine, I'll take it. Philippine Airlines is trying to kill me, I thought.
Luckily, I made it out alive. As we landed, I checked the Doritos bag. It was plump, probably like me. I put away Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, a surprisingly stressful book, and was ready to transfer to my next flight to Shanghai, ready for the next leg of the journey.
Suddenly, the attendant returns holding handfuls of cookies. "Please, take one more cookie, please! We have so many leftover! Please, please!" What the hell? Would you calm down?
I worked up my courage. I'm allowed to say no, I'm allowed to say no, I'm allowed to say no...