Soft-Shell turtle soup, Carls Jr & world travel

It’s layover in Taipei International Airport, after 12 hours in the air from Seattle. Everything’s just a little too familiar. Instinctively, I made my way to the connecting “C” gates through yet another security check point. I have about 45 minutes to kill before the business center opens at 6am when I will check my email.

I sat next to a Chinese gentleman on the Eva flight over and we went through the whole trip without a single word to each other. Just eye contact got me past him two separate times to use the facilities. The flight attendants only spoke to me in Chinese but I knew by context what they were saying so I played along: I closed the blinds, opened them, declined food, put my seat back up…

I enjoyed being left along as I wasn’t feeling well. An ambient pill let me sleep almost 8 hours and I finished the flight by watching two movies. Surprisingly, I feel better than when I started this journey.

Right now, staring at me is a life-sized cardboard picture of a Chinese chef tempting me with soft-shell turtle soup. I’ve never tried that before. I appreciate the fact it’s something quite different given the familiarity of everything else around me: The duty free shops hawking exclusive brand names. That magazine smell of expensive perfume is the same in Heathrow as it is in the Taipei International Airport. The world has become so small.

I’ve been jumping from Seattle to London to Ho Chi Minh City over the past year. When I go to one of these three diverse cities, there is a surprising amount of similarities. I guess that’s called globalization.

I remember the first time visiting Paris with my wife in the hot summer of 1996. It was almost impossible for me to get any ice with my drinks. I complained quite a bit about that throughout the trip. Now, you can’t get a drink without ice throughout Europe or Asia. In a way, despite all my previous complaints, that makes me sad. So, I heard Carl’s Jr. is opening up in Ho Chi Minh City. I should really try this soft-shell turtle soup.