This was like many of our oversea trips...a blur of loading bags, unloading bags, taxi rides, crashing in your hotel room trying to recover from a 20 hour + day only to get up early the next morning to do it all over. Long story short...we flew to Anchorage for a meeting, then on to Khabarovsk, Russia for a tech stop, and Beijing for a RON. After a night in Beijing we flew to Macau for a day meeting and then to Hong Kong to spend the night. The next day we went to Xiamen for a meeting then back to Hong Kong so we could fly to Taipei (Mainland China will not allow flights to Taipei from their airspace) for a RON. The next day we were to come home but...when the boss showed up at the airport he "wanted to stop short and spend the night...somewhere..." The scramble to find a place to stop, to get permits, to set up hotel rooms, to get landing slots, started. BTW, we told him his best option would be to go back to his hotel in Taipei and we could start early Saturday morning for home. Nope, he wanted to do a short leg and then go home the next day. At this time we had been on the airport 6 hours with the APU running most of that time...the short part of the story...after almost 5 hours of work putting the permits and flight plan together at a cost of around $??,????USD...just as the "handlers" were walking up the air stair with the overflight permits, the landing "slots", the flight plan, just as we were less than 5 minutes from cranking our engines....you've got it..."we are going to spend the night here and go home in the morning". The bottom line...after 12 hours at the airport, Mucho $ for handling fees, and 2000 lbs. of kerosene burned we were back where we started...still 12 hours of flying from home...another unloading and loading of bags, a 1 hour cab ride on rain slick streets, two ways, and two very exhausted pilots that still needed to get a new set flight plans and permits. The good news...we left Taipei on time the next day, Saturday morning at 11:00 local, after a tech stop in Petropavlovsk, Russia we made it to Portland, OR at 09:30 Saturday morning. Did you notice...we made it home an hour and a half before we started :-) ...BTW it was a hell of a long ways to go for a bowl of noodles.
A couple of observations from someone that really didn't get to spend enough time in any one place to learn much but that has never stopped me from having an opinion or expressing it :-) ...we (the USA) are in deep dodo...the Chinese have their shit together. The place is clean and modern, the infrastructure is in very good shape, the people are smart and educated, and there are a ton of 'em, and we are shipping our money over there as fast as we can. We are screwed unless we get our act together much faster than I think we can.. Hong Kong is another world...I would love to have some time to spend there...it is also an example of how to make things work...money has been spent on the infrastructure, it is maintained, and there is an investment in the future...something that has been lacking in the States... our roads and public buildings are falling apart. We are not spending our money or our public capital wisely....maybe because our sense of community, of common cause has eroded, as we have been distracted by side shows and red meat thrown to the rubes. Whatever the reason...the result is our pockets are being picked and our country is falling apart compared to what I saw in Hong Kong and China.