This morning I was cursing when I alarm went off at 6am. Not only was I having a really good dream (yes it involved you Helen), I was fast asleep and had slept solidly from immediately after sending my last days news. Jet lag definitely beaten and now I traversing who knows how many time zones and no doubt I will be totally jet lagged again. We had a meeting with the whole of Europe over breakfast. Yes I know you think I am crazy but that is what we did. All the Europeans have formed an organization called the Group Consultatif which is made up of 33 EU based actuarial organizations. So instead of negotiating and talking to each EU country’s organization separately we could just speak to this organization. So we had breakfast with a Frenchman (who was late of course and it didn’t really matter because every time he spoke no one understood what he was saying anyway), an Englishman and a Swede (who spoke like an Englishman, looks like an Englishman and if I had to bet was probably born in England, lived in England for most his life etc and add to that his name is Campbell which might make him Scottish). It was a very good and productive meeting again even if it had to start at 6:30am. We finished just before 8am which gave me enough time to go and pack (which I hadn’t done yet).
I packed, phoned the family (and spoke to Chloe as the boys would never have answered the phone of course), packed some more, sent a last few emails and by that time it was time to leave for the airport. Checking out was even quicker than checking in – all he asked was whether the account should go on my credit card and when I said yes he handed me a copy of the bill and that was it. The taxi ride to the airport took about 25 minutes along a 8 lane highway (that is 16 lanes in total i.e. 8 both ways). That was the highway that was totally at a standstill last night (you can imagine how many cars!). This morning of course there was no traffic. I am traveling on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. When I approached the check-in counter the check-in lady stepped out from in front of the desk to welcome me. Seriously … which other airline does that in the world?! I had been pre-seated in 1A but they told me the TV was broken and so gave me 2A. Given the flight is 15 hours, a broken TV would have been a TOTAL disaster. What would I have done for the whole time. At least that disaster was averted.
Security at any US airport is generally a mission and today was no different. Even though there was no one in the queue it still took me 10 minutes to get through security. You have to pretty much take everything out of your bag that might be electronic. And you definitely have to take off every item of clothing pretty much down to your underwear. And they now have body scanners anyway which you have to step on the shoe markings on the floor and then raise your arms like you are being arrested. I was just waiting for the handcuffs to be smacked on and taken away for some questioning when the guy said thanks I could do through.
Given I have done zero shopping (and I owe Chloe a present at least), I thought I would do some terminal shopping. Terminal shopping can be fatal. And it was in this case because there are only 2 shops once you pass security in the International Terminal at LA. No, not kidding. In the land of consumerism, LA International Terminal has two shops. And they are both the size of a shoebox. There was also a See Candies stall – I say stall because it wasn’t a shop just a display in the passageway. See Candies is another Berkshire Hathway company which Warren Buffet owns. It is probably the best chocolate in the US (but still doesn’t come near to Cadbury according to Helen’s estimation). The shopping will have to stand over for HK airport it seems!
I am now in the OneWorld Alliance (BA, Qantas, American, Cathay etc) lounge. As I walked in the smell of Asian food hit me. They have noodle boxes, sticky rice, chicken and beef and vegetables all done Asian style. As it is 11am I am resisting the smell at the moment but I can feel my resistance waning by the minute. The flight leaves at 12:55pm and so I doubt whether they will serve us anything on board until about 3pm so a mid-morning snack would be appropriate I think. As I land at 7pm on Sunday (get your around that … I still haven’t figured out how many hours time changes are involved) this will be my update for today and I will email on Sunday evening from Hong Kong again.
So what is my summary of LA. As city it is pretty boring (sorry Rachel … I know you live here). It is very flat. The downtown area is really not great. I can think of numerous city that have much nicer downtown areas including Cape Town, London, New York, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago (for you Helen), Sydney, Auckland, Bloemfontein …. And it is a pretty risky place to visit – probably up there with Johannesburg (though I have never seen an arrest in Johannesburg yet – might be because they aren’t any police in Jhb to make any arrests and those that are around have been bribed not to arrest one). And the meetings were generally boring too. I will definitely have to learn to manage my attendance at these meetings in future (especially since I have another 3.5 years to go of them). Fortunately the next one is in Nassau, Bahama’s and my beloved is going to be with me. The meetings might hold even less attraction there.
Enjoy the rest of your Saturday.