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Short Sabbatical

I hope Booking Through Thursday will post this week’s question in time before my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong (13 hours 45 minutes)departs at 1:20 AM tonight. I’ll have a couple hours to kill at the lounge where I’ll sip some champagne and read. The champagne would be like a sleeping pill that pampers me to sleep when I get onboard. I’m actually looking forward to flying this new Boeing 777-300ER plane with flat-bed business class seat. Flight attendants are attentive and mindful that they bed you down and cater up coffee and meal as soon as you get up. Did I tell you that they serve tiramisu on board?

So what am I bringing for this quick trip? (I’ll return on Monday morning.) Chocolate! The Asian obsession with See’s Candies has always been as baffling to me as a physics problem. Why not Godiva or Scharffen Berger? Shopping at these places is a demonstration of status. To refreshen their chocolate-eating habit and to bring sensation, I have bought some fresh cream truffles from Joseph Schmidt Confections for everybody. These are handmade truffles that have mocha, coffee, plain, and vanilla flavors. To prevent debauchery, I rarely keep chocolate at home.

A different, almost unusual, souvenir would be the Obama campaign buttons that are in blue, white, and rainbow designs. Asians are very obsessed with American politics that during the primaries earlier this year Hilary Clinton made the headline on the paper almost every single day. Politics and stock market are hand-in-hand and that the Dow has a huge impact on the stock markets. I walked past one of the tables selling campaign memorabilia and got some of the humorous buttons with message like “If Obama is President…will we still call it the White House?” A friend of mine e-mailed me and asked if I can find some Palin buttons. Nope, not in San Francisco. Somebody can make a fortune selling Palin buttons but he would have to risk his life.

As to reading, I found a copy of Rebecca West’s The Birds Fall Down at Aardvark’s. One afternoon, in an early summer of this century, eighteen-year-old Laura Rowan sits on the garden steps of her house embroidering a handkerchief. She overhears a conversation between her father, an English Member of Parliament, and her mother, Tania, the daughter of an exiled Russian royalist. Tania’s decision to take Laura to Paris to visit her grandfather, Count Nikilai Diakonov, means that Laura will unwittingly become a witness to the momentous events leading up to the Russian Revolution. Francine Prose in Reading Like a Writer has cited the beautiful opening paragraph as an example of one that grabs reader’s immediate attention and packs so much information to foreshadow the plot. The book will satisfy my book craving for the three days that I’ll be in Hong Kong.

Note: While I’m gone, there will be post-dated posts including my contribution to the TLC Book Tour of Kim Powers. The review of Capote in Kansas will appear on the morning of October 6, the day I come back from Hong Kong. I’ll occasionally sign on but probably won’t attend to all your comments until Monday. I’ll bring you a special edition of The Sunday Salon from Hong Kong!

9 Responses

  1. Have a safe and fun journey, Matt!

  2. I love reading about your travels.

    See you soon in the blogworld.

  3. What a quick trip! Hope you have a fab time Matt and I’ll be checking back for your review of Capote in Kansas!

  4. Obama buttons would be fun souvenirs to bring, for sure they won’t have them in Hong Kong!

    The Bird Falls Down sounds good, although I’ve been shying away from the really long (but famous) conversation on the train, which is pivotal to the secrecy of the story.

  5. Cathy:
    Thanks and I’m back. 🙂

  6. Isabel:
    This is the shortest trip ever to Asia. I was coming and going like typhoon.

  7. iliana:
    I’m back after 2.5 days in Hong Kong. My sense of time is warped. Stepping in between times zones. 🙂

  8. John:
    I think you’ll like The Birds Fall Down. Give it a go. 🙂

  9. Thanks for dropping by my blog today (10/7) – I’ve never been over here before so I’m just sort of browsing around and figured this would be the best post to just say HELLO! on. 🙂

    Hope your trip went well!

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