05 April 2009

Long flight, sleeplessness and the colorful Colorado

12 March, 2009: I woke up in the morning around 5 o'clock. In fact, I could not sleep the entire night. Normally, I can't sleep during the night if I have to go out for a trip in the next morning. I got ready at around 6 o' clock and one of my friends, Hasitha Ariyaratne who hails from Sri Lanka and currently pursues PhD from Hiroshima University in Information Engineering, was there to give me a ride to the Hiroshima International Airport. I had to catch the 7:45 AM Hiroshima- Tokyo flight. I was on a trip to the United States.

It's almost mid-march but the cold winter was taking my memory to the freezing weather of a couple of months back. It was extremely cold and rainy last night, getting almost to the freezing mark. But, the morning promised a bright sunshine and a warmer day ahead. The car was running at fairly high speed. I looked around the landscape which appeared freshly washed.

We reached the airport on time. I thanked Hasitha for the ride before proceeding towards the departure terminal. The flight was on time. Within 2 hours, I was at the Narita Airport in Tokyo. I cleared the immigration formalities but my next flight to San Fransisco was scheduled at 5:10 PM. It was indeed a long and boring wait. I passed some time shopping at some duty-free outlets and then had lunch at a Japanese restaurant. Still I had a little over 2 hours left, so decided to spent some time on the net (I had my laptop with me). Like many, I too believe that internet is the best way to utilize (or kill whatever you say) the time specially during the transits.

The San Fransisco bound United Airlines flight was ready for boarding. I saw my wrist-watch. It was 6:40 PM. I shut down my laptop and got ready with my passport and boarding pass. I had to wait a while as the economy class passengers get last priority in the boarding scheme. After being in the queue for few minutes, my turn came. I showed my boarding pass to the young lady who was tirelessly welcoming everyone aboard with a smile. The lady took my boarding pass, tried to read my name and then 'politely ordered' me, "could you please show your intended address in the United States? we need to collect it and it's a rule"! I had been to several places prior to this, including the trip to Europe, but never had this kind of experience before. Then I realized that this was going to be a different trip! Anyway, after explaining the details of my schedule, I was finally 'released'. I stepped into the airplane. "Welcome aboard!", a lady smiled impotently. I could not respond to her smile and almost rushed to my seat. Soon, the captain was instructing the crews to prepare for the take-off!

The airplane flew over the pacific ocean for approximately 10 hours. I slept for sometime. And when I woke up, the airplane had already crossed the 'International Date Line'. Therefore. despite of starting the trip on 12th evening, I reached at the San Fransisco International Airport on the 12th morning itself! It was precisely 10:30 AM when the airplane landed.

The world is divided into 24 time zones, and there exists a place where there is a difference in days, somewhere the day truly begins on the planet. Thus, the 180° line of longitude, exactly one-half way around the planet from Greenwich, England and 0° longitude is approximately where the International Date Line is located. If you cross the line at precisely midnight, going westward, you skip an entire day; while going eastward, you repeat the entire day.

Soon, I was standing in the queue that was crawling towards the immigration counter. Eventually I reached the immigration officer. "Good morning", I whispered to the officer who barely smiled in response. He first looked at me and then my passport strangely as if he was going to find that it was forged or out-of-date! "So you are coming from Japan, what do you do there?", the officer then started asking even those questions that I thought were pointless to ask. I went through the answers almost in the parrot fashion! What surprised me most was that he knew Japanese and started interrogating me suddenly in Japanese language. After giving me some anxious moments, he finally asked me for my fingermarks and instructed to pose for a photograph. I was 'admitted' to the United States for a 3-month period!

I rushed to the baggage claim area as I had only one hour left to catch my next connecting flight to Denver. I found my stuffs easily and then headed towards the Customs. I took my suitcase over to the customs officer and presented my filled out customs declaration card. As usual I had nothing to declare. He looked at the card (where I had mentioned address of the Seattle Sheraton hotel), looked at me and then asked, "going to Seattle"? Though, I was going to stay in Denver for few days, I uttered before he could complete his question, "yes"! As expected, I cleared the customs without any hassle.

I was running out of time so went quickly to check-in my baggage for another approximately 3-hour long flight. However, the security at the San Fransisco Airport was extremely tight despite that I was on a domestic route. Passengers were even forced to put-off their shoes! It took me some time to reach to the appropriate departure gate. The boarding process had already started and soon, I was inside the airplane bound to Denver. I was feeling very sleepy even before the airplane took off!

I reached to the Denver International Airport at around 4 PM local time. I had my baggage and then proceeded towards the Arrival gate. My cousin was there waiting for me. My sleepy eyes suddenly lit up as I was quite excited to meet him after so long. We talked for a while before deciding to continue sharing the experiences and feelings later. He put my suitcase in the trunk of his sporty car and requested me to take my seat. After nearly 45 min. of drive, we were in front of his beautiful house located in the Frederick city. I was immensely pleased by the manner in which he welcomed me. There was a sense of excitement all around!

Finding me sleepy-eyed, my cousin asked me whether I needed any rest. I had not got enough sleep, hence was obviously feeling very sleepy. But I refused to go to bed that time and told him my intentions, "I will sleep later, probably in the night not now"! I explained him that it was all due to the Jet lag.

Jet lag (time zone change syndrome) often results in symptoms including difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, excessive sleepiness, and a lack of daytime alertness following rapid travel across multiple time zones. People who have a fixed daily routine often suffer jet lag the most.

I went to bed early however failed to sleep throughout the night. I 'woke-up' in the morning a bit too early next day (finally, it was 13th March!). We had our breakfast before we decided to go for a sightseeing. My obvious preference was to go for a trip to the country side and natural sites instead of the city sightseeing. My cousin agreed.

We covered about 200 miles that day. I loved the colorful Colorado. We went to various places of interest. I managed to take some snaps through my camera few of which I am uploading it here. And I hope that you all will like them!

It was around 2 PM when we started feeling hungry. We decided to take lunch at the nearby restaurant called Kathmandu Restaurant. Located in the Nederland area of Colorado, the Kathmandu Restaurant serves authentic Nepali and Indian cuisines. In fact, there were many Nepalese and Indian restaurants and groceries located conveniently at almost every place that we traveled. I felt like eating at some hotel in Kathmandu!

One more point I want to mention here is that the Hindu community in the United States is growing constantly and they appeared to have maintained their cultural traditions. I came to know that increasing number of Hindu Temples are being built in almost every State of the USA. In addition to serving as a holy place of worship, prayer and meditation, they also serve as a place for promotion of culture. We too went to visit few of the temples located at a large premises. Below is a glimpse of one of the temples that we visited (Shambhaveshvarya Mahadev Mandir).

It was already dark when we finally drove back to Frederick. I was very happy but at the same time extremely tired. I was praying for a good sleep that night. We took our dinner and talked for an hour or so. It was almost 12 PM when we decided to say good-night to each other. I appreciate your patience and thank you for your interest in reading this long post. And hope to see you soon with the rest of my experiences!

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Sameer on April 5, 2009 at 10:52 AM said...

enjoyed reading it, thanks for the sharing.

abc on April 5, 2009 at 12:00 PM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alok said...

I really like the way you explain your travel experiences. I feel myself there at those places. Thanks for posting the related information on 'International Date Line', Jet Lag (time zone change syndrome) etc. The pictures have come very nice. How was the conference? Looking forward to the remaining parts!

Basanta Gautam on April 6, 2009 at 7:10 AM said...

Nice narration!

And you are funny abc:) In American accent, It really sounds like that.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading about your trip. The audio link is really nice and thanx for lovely pictures. thank you for sharing.
-A Tiwari

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



सिकारु on April 7, 2009 at 11:58 PM said...

dependra jee really i enjoyed with this article,and picture . thnk you for sharing such a good journey.

Dilip Acharya on April 8, 2009 at 9:15 PM said...

It reminds me about my last years official trips. though it was not that long, but my job required a lot of travel by air and I somehow realized what was "economic class syndrome".

I always enjoy reading your "tour diaries".The way you describe things, makes it more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for sharing your opinions.

@abc: I deleted the comment made by you as I found some unsuitable (as far as I think) words used in it. I hope you won't mind it and respect my views.

Dilipji, thanks for sharing your views on 'economy class' traveling. & thanks for finding my tour diaries interesting!

Anonymous said...

I have never been to CO yet, but after looking at your pictures and your descriptions I might head west this summer.
BTW, you got a very creative banner. Also, the disclaimer at the end of page is comprehensive. All bloggers should add it to their site (just in case, doesn't cost anyone penny to add it). I just added one.

Anonymous said...

Prajwol ji, I am glad that you liked the post. yes, it is indeed a beautiful place to travel. I hope you will enjoy your trip this summer!

Thanks for your compliment! And you are right, it's good to have the 'disclaimer' at our blog.

Anonymous said...

hey, did u get to know about south park? any way when i was kid i used to think only nepal has mountains hills, any it's nice place..so US is country with highest no. of internal and external tourist.

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