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Goodbye America; Hello AsiaWheeling

As I sit, writing this to you, dear reader, your humble correspondents are tearing our way across the pacific ocean on China Airlines 00:05 flight from San Francisco to Taipei.

The past days are whirling through our heads with a kind of fury only rivaled by the anticipation which we excitedly harbor for the road ahead. Jolly memories of raging New Year’s parties with dear friends mingle with bittersweet longing for the loved ones that we are about leave behind.

Scott’s mother was driving like a bat out of hell, as Scott and I rifled through our bags, confirming the presence of items as they suggested themselves as a flurry of little question marks in our minds. I felt like my mind was a dripping faucet, ideas would form and cling to my attention, then fall away only to be replaced by another. We would truly have been in trouble had we not been planning this for the last six months. Thanks to our planning, all seemed to be there. But to be honest it didn’t matter. Unless one of us had forgotten a passport, Diane was not going to turn around.  AsiaWheeling was engaged, and could not be deactivated. It was time to reach for the old tools we forged on the first trip, to relax, to allow experience to wash over us, and to content ourselves with working within the realm of that which is under our control. And that which is under our control was about to diminish sharply.
I sent a flurry of text messages, milking all I could from the last few moments on my American SIM card. At times, I felt on the verge of tears, as I exchanged bits of ASCII with my loved ones. And then, quite abruptly we were at the airport.

We were met there by a long queue of people stretching in a snaking line from the China Airlines counter. Though the line was long, the staff performed commendably, ushering us through the line. We shuffled slowly, moving our folding bicycles foot by foot, closer the the counter. Scott and I were startled to run into multiple friends –from Brown and even Scott’s high school  Sacred Heart Prep– in this mother of all lines.

Not only were these fellows (a Mr. Jason Rhine and Mr. Jesse Maddox) in the vast queue, but the two proved to be on our flight as well. However, we noted that Jesse was nowhere to be found in row 44, as advertised on his ticket. We puzzled over this as we dug into the 1:30 am dinner of ambiguous fish and red sauce which was offered to us by China Airlines.


So far China Airlines has achieved high marks all around, provided us with Uma Thurman to watch, a fine selection of beverages, and a friendly staff sporting skull and cross bones pirate watches… but has completely failed in one notable zone: no ventilation. Well you can’t win them all can you?



  1. Mark/Dad | January 7th, 2010 | 9:23 pm

    Is that a video game you are engaged in on the airplane, Woody? Also, you should notice that you are getting press on the Grinnell College Libraries’ Book Review Site: http://grinnellbookreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/asia-wheeling-packs-books-for-their-ten.html.

  2. Breena | January 7th, 2010 | 10:49 pm

    Did you like the food? My China airlines food a few weeks ago from SF->Taipei was pretty gross, and as you mentioned, the absence of ventilation meant I could smell it long before they asked “fish or pasta.” Also, we didn’t have personal tv screens, which you really do need on a 14 hr flight. However, that noodle bar in the Taipei Airport was stellar. Looks like you guys did well there too.

  3. Woody | January 8th, 2010 | 6:15 am

    Hey, that Grinnell College libraries post is great! Looks like a period was included in the URL… but the link’s not broken, just erase the period at the end of the URL.

    @ Mark/Dad
    Actually that’s me playing the “learn indonesian” tutorial on the plane.

    @ Breena
    Ok, the food was not so hot. But the service was great. We had TV screens for the Taipei to Jakarta flight, but we are not the TV screen types… Scott and I much prefer to play whist read, or write correspondance to dear readers like you.

  4. Rebecca | January 8th, 2010 | 9:55 am

    Hi Woody–I’ve seen that airline meal before and can still remember foodlessness of the fish. I enjoyed your video posts! and will fix the URL

  5. Christi | January 8th, 2010 | 8:41 pm

    Did the missing Jesse ever show up? Your food looks considerable better than some we had traveling around China a few years back.

  6. Woody | January 10th, 2010 | 4:58 am


    Indeed. Looks like his seat was changed at the last minute. We found him later in the Taipei Airport.

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