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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

1981 - 1982
A trip through Southeast Asia

January 3, 1982, finally here was the day of our long awaited trip to the Orient. After so many years of hard work and determination a dream came true and I finally was able to visit that part of the world.

As Lu Lu and I were waiting at the Washington Dulles International Airport for our flight to San Francisco as many as twenty of our closest friends came to the airport to say "Bon Voyage". It felt good to see all of them and you wished you could take all of them along.

Dulles Airport Terminal
Dulles Airport

Since I had not flown in an airplane for the last five years I must admit that I didn't feel very comfortable to take this trip. The airport was filled with people and it showed me that flying was the fastest transportation of the time. As much as Lu Lu had complained about flying she kept very cool. Departing from your friends is a kind of sad feeling. Boarding our plane was kind of slow due to a small accident in the loading department. Sitting and waiting in the airbus to get on the plane feels like hours, and a million things go through your mind. Somehow you get a little impatient and start to wonder should I ever have taken this trip. Finally we were on the plane looking for our seats so we could be comfortable. I introduced Lu Lu and myself to the gentleman next to us and he told us he was a salesman for the U.S. Government. The captain gets on the intercom and tells us that we are ready for take-off. Once we are in the air there are a few bumps, but the captain tells us not to worry and relax and stay cool until we get up to 41,000 feet high and we will have a smooth flight. Our 747 Boeing Express, that's what our plane was called, was filled. How lucky Lu Lu was she had an empty seat next to her. It was the only empty seat around. The gentleman next to us claimed to be a Government salesman. In our conversation I discovered that he must be a C.I.A. agent. I noticed he was known to many other people on the plane who were spread around. They were all buddies from the same U.S. Government Agency.

During the flight Lu Lu was very nervous. She kept asking over and over again how much more flying time we had before we would arrive in San Francisco. It was a five hour flight. We left Washington at 5 PM. With the three hours time difference it was 2 PM in San Francisco when we left. The food and drinks services on the plane passed away some of our flying time. I drank gin and wine hoping it would put me to sleep for a while, but that didn't help a bit.

Taking a flight to the West Coast surely showed me how big this country is. Our flight was very smooth. The food on the plane was very moderate and the airline hostesses did their best. To keep every person happy on a big flying monster like that is not an easy job. TWA even served Embassy milk on our flight. That's the last thing I wanted to see -- a carton of Embassy milk on my vacation.

After a 5 1/2 hour flight we arrived at San Francisco. As in most large cities the airport is a madhouse of people, traffic, etc. Our friends were waiting for us.

When we arrived in San Francisco it was dark and rainy. During our ride from the airport to our friends' home in Dale City which is one of the suburban areas of San Francisco I noticed how different the environment was. This was our first trip to the West Coast. With the palm trees in front of most houses it looked so different.

For one week we stayed with our friends in Dale City. The first day of our stay it rained and rained. It looked like a tropical monsoon. On the TV they were showing certain areas across from the Golden Gate Bridge where they had very bad mud slides on the hills and many houses were washed away by the floods. This has happened so many times before and yet people still keep building new houses on those hills. Luckily Dale City didn't have that problem although the house we stayed in was also built on top of a hill. Most of the houses in Dale City were of the stucco type built with lots of wood. I was told that wood has better resistance against earthquakes.

Lu Lu slept most of the day as she needed a good rest. Our friends were very hospitable and their house was very comfortable. As I looked through the window all I saw were hills around built with homes. It was 50 degrees F. outside and raining very hard. As hard as it rains you don't feel that wet cold.

At night our friends took us to San Francisco's China Town and we had dinner together in their favorite restaurant. The food was excellent. The weather was too bad to go around for sightseeing so we went back home and Alfred and I had a few drinks in his recreation room, and after that we played cards until late last night.

CONTINUED: Touring San Francisco
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index