Jet lag hit me a bit late yesterday. After a long long journey from KL to Atlanta, I finally made my way from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, I got an early check-in at 8AM. After settling in I went for the complimentary American (what else?) breakfast which ends at 10AM. At that point, all the blood rushed to my stomach and then I realized that my body was still in a different time zone, regardless of what I was trying to tell myself. Atlanta is exactly 12 hours behind KL. I ended up sleeping the Saturday afternoon because it was nighttime back home.
Some hassles about time zones:
1. I have to reset the time on my watch, mobile phone, camera, laptop computer and this blog every time I cross time zones. I especially made sure I reset my watch at LA (so that I wouldn't miss my connecting flight) and then reset again at Atlanta. Well, those of you frequent travellers might probably be thinking what the big deal is. See, I haven't crossed a time zone in 9 years, so this is a big deal to me. Oh wait, Chiang Mai and Bali are 1 hour behind KL, but they don't really count coz it's just 1 hour.
2. My watch has a day and date change mechanism that changes the date at midnight KL time. So now, it's changing the day and date at noon Atlanta time and I don't think I can do anything to fix it.
Oh yea, at LAX I had my first taste of the famous US Dept of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration's super strict security checks. Shoes must be taken off and scanned. Laptops must be taken out and tested. I took off my belt. I basically took off everything that might remotely contain metal. But they didn't ask me to start the laptop computer. They didn't look at my small bag of LAGs (liquids, aerosols and gels). They basically ignored me after I walked through the metal detector, whereas I saw some other people who went through further checks after passing through. Did I look that innocent/harmless or what? I saw some people's handbags being subject to testing by gas ionizing detectors after going through the X-ray. Looks like they are dead serious about detecting chemicals and explosives.
So, now I'm at a hotel on Peachtree Street, the famous Atlanta street. It was eerily quiet when I stepped out of the MARTA station just across the road from the hotel. Extremely convenient. It's even nearer than from KLCC LRT station to KLCC.
Some interesting observations here... Atlanta is home to two of the most famous American brands in the world -- Coca-Cola and CNN. Yet, downtown Atlanta is pretty small, all within walkable distance. I can see the CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola right from my window on the 18th floor.
Another interesting fact about Georgia state: It is the home of golf in the US -- The prestigious US Masters is held at the Augusta National golf course every year.
It's funny listening to Jet Li speaking Spanish in his movies on TV.
Twilight zone over the northern Pacific Ocean east of Japan... high above the clouds... I felt like I was on a spaceship... so serene
Somewhere over the Pacific... as we flew into the rising sun the sunrays became so blindingly intense that all the window shades had to be shut... it was also sleep time for most of the passengers, since it was already night time according to our biological clocks
Somewhere over northern California... earlier, the window shade was down, so I missed the landfall on the west coast of the USA
Making a steep bank to the right on the final approach to LAX... downtown LA is shrouded by mist/smog... in the evening.
LAX is a busy airport... there were planes taking off and landing all around us... flying over California, I also saw other planes flying in the sky nearby... it was a bit unnerving at first, coz I'm not used to seeing other aircraft in the sky at the same time as me... but I guess the air traffic control knows what they are doing.
Our gate at the terminal was occupied, so we got sent to a remote gate far away from the main terminal... it's like a low cost terminal, but with air-conditioned aerobridges.
Getting in line at the Customs and Border Protection (CPB) a.k.a. immigration. The international terminal is under renovation, so space is constrained. The majority of CPB officers were non-white Americans. Their names were Jang, Afzal, Pangpang, and the like. The guy who processed my entry was Nguyen. I think the US government is really trying to project a more familiar international face. There was an amusing interaction between one of the few white officers and an elderly Taiwanese couple who looked like they didn't understand English. The officer had to use sign language and physically "assist" the Taiwanese man to remove his hat and glasses for the photo-taking by the camera.
Civic powered by Compressed Natural Gas... California takes their air pollution control very seriously
The first person I met in downtown Atlanta, the moment I exited the MARTA station... his name is Shorty... he's 51, homeless, very friendly... he gave me a running commentary of downtown... I think he would make a good tour guide.
Historic fire hydrant, the site of the first demonstration of the city's water system on September 11, 1895
Homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk... it was close to midnight, time for me to scoot back to the hotel... I didn't feel in danger out on the streets... there were police officers around... and local guys cruising in their fast cars (19 inch chrome wheels are in fashion) but I didn't wanna take any chances anyway.