Houston to Dallas
Trip Start Aug 08, 2006
36Trip End Oct 11, 2006
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Today is the DAY: the start of a journey across several oceans and countless borders, a chance to celebrate with much joy the weddings of good friends, and an opportunity to reunite with familiar faces. In 64 days, my body will be subjected to more than 25,000 miles (40,000 km) of travel and half of the world's time zones. Soon, Melatonin will be my best friend.
Last night, I had a pre-departure reunion with a group of friends at Two Row's Restaurant in the Rice Village. I was quite honored that they showed up to wish bon voyage to me as we dined on fine brick-oven pizzas. I had a feeling they were going to have a great time in Houston filled with parties and summer social events while I was going away on a 2 month trek across the big Eurasian land mass. There will be a lot of catching up to do when I get back in town.
Leaving George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston this morning, I landed one hour later in Dallas, a city I called home during my 4 years of graduate studies in Medicine. Passing by certain terminals, memories of airport reunions and farewells of friends flashed before my eyes. It is ironic that I am now returning to this very familiar airport in the guise of a traveler-in-transit.
To prepare myself for the diverse linguistic landscapes, I had diligently been reviewing seven languages for the past month. Two languages that I wished I had more time to peruse in depth were Mongolian and Hindi. However, I felt confident with all the others. Part of any rich traveling experience is the opportunity to communicate with the locals in their tongues and absorb the history of the human condition. Armed with 7 pocket dictionaries and a quad-band wi-fi internet smartphone, I hope communication in the most remote parts of the globe will not pose any problem.
Overhead, the announcements at DFW Intl Airport were already becoming bilingual. Most of the passengers in the waiting area were whispering in Japanese. My ears perked up, perceiving that it was not standard Japanese, but a regional dialect typical of the Kansai region in south-central Japan. The Osaka accent is characterized as "harsh" and incomprehensible even by speakers of the standard national language, which is derived from the Kanto (Tokyo) area. I just wish that all my years of self-study in standard Japanese will allow me smooth passage through the meticulous immigration procedures in Osaka.
Boarding announcements were just made. I proceeded to the gate of American Airlines bound for Kansai International Airport in Osaka. This is it. The countdown in progress. Inside the plane, all passengers have been requested to turn off all electronic devices. The main cabin door is about to close. The start of a whirlwind adventure through 2 continents, 9 countries with 25,000 Frequent Flyer Miles is now underway as I am about to send this travelogue from my smartphone...
Until next time, let's meet again in the Land of the Rising Sun...