When you fly from Asia to the U.S., you lose time by flying 'against' the sun - but this is more than made up for by the International Date Line, a somewhat arbitrary line drawn north-south across the Pacific Ocean and roughly half-way across the world from the line that goes through Greenwich, England for which "Greenwich Mean Time" designates the baseline for all time zones. So what does this mean? Let's use the non-stop flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco as an example. It left at 12:30pm and arrived at 9:30am on what would be the next day, if it were not for the International Date Line. The flight is just over 12 hours long and crosses 9 time zones, 'losing' an additional 9 hours... so 12:30 plus 12 hours plus 9 hours gets you to 9:30 the next morning. But since you crossed the International Date Line, it's actually the same day! How does that work? Well, imagine that you were heading in the opposite direction (in which you do
cross the date line), and somehow the flight also took 12 hours. Well, you would cross 15 time zones in your favor, so you would actually gain 3 hours, arriving - miraculously - three hours earlier than you took off! Ok that may be thoroughly confusing, but here are a few photos from the flight...
It's a short flight from Saigon to Hong Kong, just 2 1/2 hours. I didn't actually get in to see HongKong; just had a few hours to change planes. The airport there is squeezed between steep mountains of Lantau Island and the sea. Actually, the entire airport was created by bulldozing millions of tons of mountainside out into the ocean. Here's a view from the airplane as we landed:
It's then a 12 hour flight across the Pacific to San Francisco. That's where you cross the International Date line and gain a day. That gave me enough time to take a train into the city and spend a few hours with my daughter Katherine, who works at the San Fransisco Public Library. As I came up at the Civic Center BART Station, the Wednesday Farmers' Market was in full swing.
After a delightful brunch we stopped off at the library where the weekly "Steps Sale" of books was underway. It's an amazing sale, you can purchase any used book for just a dollar!
At the entrance to the library, we ran into these two cute ladies handing out information protesting violence. The woman in the middle is 85 years old and comes from New Orleans. We figured out that she went to Sophie Newcomb College with my mother!
I took the escalator back down into the depths of the Civic Center BART station, and was entertained by this fellow with a pig-nose amp and a handful of 70's guitar rock solos.
A quick two hour flight up the coast to Seattle and an early dinner in the city before I realized that it was still the same day as when I left Saigon. Just enough time to grab the camera for one last photo in the day.
Speaking of grabbing cameras, all photos were taken with the Olympus Pen E-P5, using the 12-40 f/2.8 Pro zoom. The last photo is a panorama composite of three photos merged together. When you travel as much as I do, having a small camera system is very helpful. More on that in my next article...