From Korea I went to Japan. Japan Airways. Short flight, not bad. I flew into Haneda airport and out of Narita. Haneda is much closer and easier. Narita is nice, but you feel like you are halfway to your destination by the time you get there. Tokyo is great. I have been there several times and always like it. If you have not seen "Lost in Translation" with Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson, I recommend it. It basically conveys a great western view of Japan. Then onto Beijing. China Airlines. Did you know that any company starting with "China" (Air, Telecom, whatever...) is owned by the state? I didn't. People in the U.S. often find it easy to denigrate anything run by the government, although I think the misconceptions tend to be pretty far reaching. But I have to say, China Airlines was very good. I went to use the restroom on the flight and the flight attendant saw me heading in that direction, she walked over and held the door open. Find that in a United flight. I was met by a woman affiliated with the car service who greeted me right off the gate, before getting through customs. She power walked me through the Beijing airport which seemed to be about the size of Connecticut. The hotel in Beijing was also really nice, as were the people everywhere. Then there was the traffic. I think I could have run to my meetings quicker. But all in all, a great visit. After a long day, it's back to the airport for my flight to Tel Aviv. There a janitor followed me into the men's room in an almost deserted airport at 10 PM. Why in the world was this happening? If I am at Hartsfield in Atlanta, I am thinking he is about to rob me. If in Minneapolis, perhaps he is a Senator. It turns out, he is running ahead if me to spray and wipe the toilet seat. Seriously. When was the last time that happened to me at LaGuardia? Oh yeah, never. Then I board my El Al flight. Before you get the the airport to fly El Al, it helps to think through exactly what you do for a living, why you are flying to Israel, where you have been, where you are going, where you are staying, how long, the people you will see there, and some other fun facts about things you like or whatever, just so they can get a measure if who you are. You will be asked this stuff. Very, very thorough. The 11 hour overnight flight was enhanced by a 2 hour delay on the tarmac, which, when announced, seemed to be greeted as a call for several small discussion groups to spontaneously commence in the isles. All in Hebrew, mostly loud. Too funny. I arrived in Tel Aviv at about six in the morning. A beautiful day. Ben Gurion Airport is first class. Fairly quick through customs as well, to my surprise. Taxi to the hotel to shower and change, then on to meetings. My hotel was a boutique hotel called the Leonardo in a business district in Tel Aviv. The staff was nice and the hotel was very modern. My room was great. There was also a trail that ran along the little river near the hotel, and I went out running in the evening. It was awesome. I found Tel Aviv to be great. The food was good, the people were nice, the business climate was vibrant. My colleague rented a car, which I will also do when I return on my next trip. Two very long days, capped by a fantastic dinner with our partner there at a restaurant right on the shore of the Mediterranean. Then a 430 am taxi to the airport Friday morning, and on to a British Airways flight. I love coming come.
The icing on the cake was getting upgraded to First on BA. I have been a BA gold card holder for 12 years in a row, and after flying several different airlines in the last 13 days, I still feel BA is really hard to beat. The planes are nice, the crews are nice, the ground staff is nice. They are efficient. They get international travel. The clubs are top notch.
Long trip. Great trip. But always great to get home.