We are off to Okinawa. CX138, seats 47J and 47K. Well, these seats will get us to Hong Kong at least. The notes are scratched with a crayon I found in the pocket usually housing flight entertainment guides and other weighty tomes I rarely read anymore. It’s been a long time since I logged anything. Far too long. But the crayon stirs the muse. Or is it the fact that I am in a plane again? Those muse sure do like to travel. It’s the day after the wedding and we slip away in that turbo hum of a jet airliner that tells us a long haul is ahead of us. Vivid lighting across Sydney paints the Harbour Bridge a bright mauve and the coat hanger stands out against the deep, black, empty space of the harbour. It’s 10pm and we are fatigued from what was a relaxed celebration but which was clearly draining nonetheless.
We are still savouring yesterday, replaying conversations, catching each other up on things one of us heard but the other missed, lingering over the warmth and camaraderie that marked the day. We are enjoying the photos that have been posted on social media and though few are enough to keep us entertained. And sufficient to remind us that yes, it is all very real despite the surreal sensation which envelops us.
We arrived at Hong Kong airport shortly after 5am. By 5.30 we were in the main terminal, a building strangely empty of people. We attempted to buy a coffee but the only café open only took cash, something we do not have. Nothing else was going to open until 6am, a time at which all the lights came on and the place seemed to wake up. Strange, I had an idea this terminal was an international, 24 hour hub. Clearly that is not that case. Perhaps we are too used to the hubs of Singapore and Dubai, sufficiently so to be surprised at this 9-5 service. But it is China too and that means a little more regimentation. The lights coming on sparked a flood of other passengers and within an hour seating spaces became scarce. We have another four hours to kill before we start boarding.
We are now doing a bit of homework courtesy of the folk at Lonely Planet. Even as we do so a young Chinese couple ask if they can sit with us. Tables are taken up but chairs abound so they make the most of the spare ones at our table. They drop their trays of Maccas noodles, we move our debris out of the way and they chat away while we work out what the next few days might look like. I am reminded that our sense of personal space is very different to that found in North Asia. We finish our own discussion having worked out a rough plan once we land in Okinawa. Thank you Lonely Planet.
We are bussed to the Dragonair hub and squeeze into an Airbus of the smallest kind and bump our way across the East China Sea to Okinawa. It looms large in my mind from my recollections of World War 2 history, the fighting on which was a large determinant in the thinking behind dropping the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Who can forget those black and white images from the documentary ‘World at War’, of citizens here jumping to their deaths rather than face the prospect of being eaten by US Marines. I am vaguely aware of Okinawa in a more modern military context for its Kadena Air Base though I am out of touch with recent history. As if to make their own point when we land and walk off the tarmac a pair of F-15 fighters flip a couple of touch and go passes at us. This place is still at the pointy end it would seem.
7 – 8 June
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