I'm in Taiwan now, and everything I've seen so far makes yesterday's adventure with trans-Pacific travel very worthwhile. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for that though.
For the record, 12 hour plan flights are unpleasant. Especially when they are followed up by another 4 hour flight. Including the layover at Tokyo-Narita and hour long bus ride to Dr. Huang's father's house, I spent a total of 18 hours traveling. Oofda.
I know that I should be grateful to even be traveling in the first place, particularly by plane, but there was much that detracted from from the excitement I should have felt. Between the turbulence, the upset stomach, and the desire for hard ground and a hard bed that results from imitating the contents of a flying sardine can for half a day – it was difficult to enjoy myself. Honestly, the worst part was just being cooped up so long. Everything else was relatively expected, and would have been balanced out by the rest of the flight. I really got a kick out of the many languages present on the plane. This is probably revealing a little too much of my nerdiness, but with everyone speaking Chinese, Japanese, and English, I felt like IK was on the set of Joss Whedon's Firefly. (I just discovered that it on Netflix and, to my fiancees chagrin, am in love. Alas, both romances will have to go unfulfilled for the next month.) The flight also had some edible food going for it, at least in my opinion. Note that I didn't say good. One of my cohorts spent the last half of the trip hunched over in their seat, probably fighting desperately to avoid throwing up like another one of the group did. I've come to the conclusion that if nothing else, this trip will be one large gauntlet for my stomach. This may be my undoing, but I tend to see eating the same way a velociraptor sees petting zoos.
I spent the time on the plane as best I could, considering the small war against food poisoning being waged in my tummy. As I forgot to borrow a book from a friend or pay my fine at the library, I was stuck with a ten year old book on drug interactions in and outside of the body. It turned out to be about 3 hours worth of entertainment/distraction, mostly because it was like traveling back to a time where genetic engineering wasn't nearly what is today. I'm glad I got to skip out on the days when recombinant insulin from yeast was considered more expensive than hacking it out of pig pancreas. There was also the description of one drug's side effects, wherein a remote number of patients would orgasm whenever they yawned. No joke.
The rest of the time was spent talking to Dr. Huang and the others, attempting to jump start the part of my brain that understands any Chinese, and writing. I also managed to keep my camera alive long enough to take some pictures. For some reason, the thing eats batteries like none other.
Unfortunately, I have to wait until tonight (or tomorrow morning for those of you 14 hours in the future) to post about all the awesome that is here, as I've had hot water and tea to sustain me so far this morning. Until then, happy-day after Christmas from the other side of the world.