In the early winter, I decided to go on a trip to China with Joe and, but SARS made me back out, and their BOE's forbade them to go. I checked out the facts about SARS and decided to go on a trip to Thailand with my Jus and Nam, despite the (negligible, from my POV) risks.
During this time, it was a real pain trying to leave Japan to go anywhere, as everyone (meaning Japanese people) was afraid of SARS. Luckily, I won the battle with my BOE and slipped out of the country. I needed this. Japan was really getting to me, especially after the long winter spent in my uninsulated house, layered under no less than 3 garments at any given time to keep from freezing to death.
As soon as I stepped on the airplane, I felt good. Things were gonna change, I could feel it. I noticed that one of the stewardesses was really nice, and we started to chat in the back of the plane. After we had been talking for a while she started asking really specific questions like "what part of Orange County are you from exactly", and "do you know (fill in the blank)". Finally, she asked me "are you Merin's older brother?". It turns out that Kaori (the stewardess) was an old friend of Merin's from OCC. I know that I look like Merin, but this blew me away and it felt really weird to have met someone that I didn't know but sort of did. Anyhow, I snapped this shot (to the ire of the other attendants who told me that cell phones are to be kept OFF during the duration of the flight, thank you very much!), and it still brings back that strange feeling every time I see it.
At the end of my trip, I randomly met a teacher from Kaset Sart University, whom I had become friends with during a previous exchange program 6 months earlier. He was seeing off another friend at the airport, and we just so happened to meet just before I stepped on the plane. When you meet people unexpectedly in different countries, it can feel like the hand of destiny has pushed you together. This was indeed a strange way to start/end a trip.