Wednesday, December 16, 2009

For those about to ROK, we salute you

When I saw the trailer for Up in the Air, I realized that I was addicted to travel. I don't have a lot in common with George Clooney or the anthrophobic character he plays, but as I watched the trailer, an large portion of which was set in an airport, I remembered the intense rush I get from traveling. As I write this post, I received confirmation for a flight to Seoul via Tokyo this Sunday, which excites me as much as the act of being on an airplane literally sickens me.

An airport and its airplanes are rabbit holes. You enter a shiny, spotless steel and glass structure that looks interesting if you get a nice vantage point from a half kilometre away, endure some tedium and then emerge hours later, ideally, in a completely different place. Toronto becomes Seoul, Seoul becomes Shanghai, London becomes Toronto, Bishkek becomes Istanbul although Bishkek is more poured concrete than shiny metal.

This addiction really began last summer, when I started teaching and began the first job I ever had that paid more than $10 per hour. I bought an overpriced plane ticet to Hong Kong and took a short flight there, getting in and out of both airports easily thanks to no onerous visa requirements or the still-more-onerous checked baggage. Parenthetically, Seoul and Hong Kong supposedly have the two best airports in the world, along with Singapore.

I did this enough times that the ability to change the language, culture, ethnicity and nationality of your surroundings, virtually impossible coming from a multicultural metropolis where the only options are to cross an ocean or to go to Mexico, became addictive. I count the number of passport pages I have left, the number of countries I've visited, the large cities I've visited, the landmarks I've seen and the different ripoffs I've experienced. I would have a lot more in savings if I didn't have this addiction, but then, what else would I do with the savings?

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