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fish, mysterious ingredients, Singapore, travel

Fly Me to the Moon

03.30.10 | 4 Comments

I’ve never considered myself to have an addictive personality. There’s pretty much nothing I can’t live without, though when it comes to living without, say, pretty much any food group, I question the definition of ‘living.’ The things we think of first when we think of addiction—smoking, drinking, drugs, video games—have never really appealed to me at all. I have even wrestled myself from the unmerciful clutches of Ethiopian food, though this was through geographical necessity, not personal choice or willpower.

One non-food thing I cannot live without, I’ve discovered, is travel. Not necessarily the hours-long flight kind, but in my year and a half living in China, I have learned that the excitement and refreshment that a change of scenery and culture can offer is my key to mentally going through life. That and peanut butter. And cake.

If I have a long stretch of time at my home base, I lose steam. Time stretches before me in unrelenting monotony. Maybe this is because I’ve never lived somewhere I absolutely loved, but every day will look the same; I have nothing to look forward to, no reason to pass the time. If I have a trip planned, however, even if it’s just a weekend jaunt to Shanghai, life seems a little brighter. Today and tomorrow and the next day I may be in Huzhou, but this weekend I can escape to Shanghai. The bigger the trip, the better life seems, even if it’s a month or two away.

So the other week when I bought some plane tickets, just three or four weeks after having returned from my marathon jaunt around Southeast Asia (and having spent all of my money there), I wondered if I truly have a problem. I have endless, and mostly relevant, justifications for this trip that go beyond Because I want to, but a nagging part of me still wonders if I travel the way some women buy shoes.

While I was in Singapore, I met up with an old friend, Jason, with whom I studied in Beijing in 2007. He was the only male member of the Fat Pig/Feizhu Club, and also considered to be the lightweight eater. He lives in Singapore, so we planned to meet up. Before we did, John and I had a not-so-light lunch with some of his college friends. We ate fried oysters sautéed in egg.

z_oysters

And barbequed stingray.

z_stingray pocket

z_stingray opened

What made the stingray so outlandishly fantastic was the sauce. Spicy and tangy, that stuff would make newspaper gourmet.

A few hours later we met Jason and his friends and ate.

z_chaofan

(Fried rice)

And ate.

z_shiny fish

(Fish and greens)

And ate.

z_fish

(Steamed fish)

All of this…

z_fried chicken pork

(Fried chicken that tasted like pork)

And more…

z_sweet&sour

(Sweet and sour pork)

Over the course…

z_slick cai

(Bok Choi and…Shiny?)

Of one…

z_corn soup

(Corn Soup)

Meal.

z_nom

(Fish in saucy…sauce?)

There were, of course, about seven others in attendance, but Jason went a really Feizhu on that one.

So when Jason mentioned that he and his friends had been thinking of organizing a gustatory tour to Kuala Lumpur sometime in the near future, I sweetly asked if it wouldn’t be possible to just move that up to my birthday weekend, which also happens to be a holiday weekend here (for 清明节, qingming jie, the Tomb Sweeping Festival). This was two weeks ago. My rational, bank account brain was swiftly over come by the NomNomNom part of my brain. Who would say no to people who eat like they do?? I also have a silly desire to celebrate my birthday with something special; for the past 6 years or so, I’ve ended up spending the day alone, eating some lasagna, and maybe buying my friends dinner over a weekend.

Thankfully Air Asia, a low cost carrier, has decently priced tickets from Hangzhou to Kuala Lumpur. Happy 24th, self.

Strangely, with this travel addiction has come an inconvenient new development—a fear of flying, which is rather ironic for a travelholic. I’ve always been just a wee bit jumpy on planes, but never had a problem. It seems to have become a full-blown fear since John and I were on a flight from KL to Bangkok. A few minutes after takeoff, the plane dropped sharply. Everyone let out audible gasps, and most of us grabbed for our armrests, as though that could save our plane.

I saw clearly how the plane would fall from the sky and I would end my life in a free-falling metal tube, panicked and unfulfilled. The plane eventually leveled out, but the remainder of the flight was bumpy and filled with jarring changes in altitude. John, who was a row in front of me, heard another passenger ask if this was the pilot’s first time flying.

This feeling of persistent anxiety and fear has endured through the six or so flights I’ve taken since then. I spent the flights with my heart pounding, palms sweating, and hands clutching armrests. Whenever the timbre of the motor changed, I was convinced the engine had gone into failure and at any moment our plane would seize and plummet to the unforgiving earth. Even writing this right now makes me nervous.

Unfortunately for this phobia, I’ll be stepping on a plane again tomorrow for a five-hour flight. Should the plane not crash going or returning, this trip will be a good thing for my recent post drought. And yes, I intellectually realize that air travel is ‘safer than cars’ and all the statistics people cite about one’s likelihood of being in a plane crash, but it seems like such a terrible way to die that data just don’t comfort me.

Perhaps this is when I should take up drinking?

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