Essentials on a Long Haul Flight

A good friend is planning her trip to Europe and is asking me what I bring in my carry on bag for a flight. I don’t travel often but when I do, it’s purely for leisure, to Africa, South America or Asia, so my in-flight packing list applies mostly to 10+ hour flights.  Some of my recent and future destinations includes Antananarivo (17), Santiago de Chile (10), Rio de Janeiro (10), Beijing (14) and Cairo (13).

1. Pen. You won’t know how important a pen is, until you have to wait in long lines to fill border crossing and declaration forms. Bring a pen in flight will save you a lot of time.

2. Sheet mask. This is why my skin always looks radiant right out of the exit, besides the fact that I’m Asian. I always put on a mask when they start to serve food, so for a 10 hour flight, I need 2-3 masks.

3. Sleeping pills. Especially for red eye flights.

4. Eye mask. Some airlines offer it for free (ie. Ethiopian Airlines), but I’d still bring my own.

5. Flip flops. Or slippers, whatever that’s comfortable to sleep in and easy to take off.

6. Thick socks when I have a window seat. I almost always choose aisle seats but sometimes unfortunately I miss my flight and get assigned to the next one on a window seat. The window seats are colder on the walls so a pair of socks will help you sleep.

7. Foldable water bottle. It’s very important to hydrate in a flight and foldable water bottles take up less space. I usually bring a thermos too, because you know, I’m Chinese and I drink hot water.

8. Noise canceling headphones. It’s not necessary if you don’t care a crying baby onboard and in your proximity in the next 10+ hours.

9. Lip balm.

10. Entertainment. I download audiobooks before flight but in reality I always fall sleep.

** I don’t need a neck pillow because I basically can sleep in any position; and also I don’t bring a jacket because international airlines (at least the ones I took) always provide blankets.


I was robbed in Guatemala City


I was robbed today a little while after taking this picture. It was about 2pm in the afternoon, a bright sunny day. I was in Zona 10, right under the Torre de Reformador, at exactly this location. I was waiting for Uber with my phone in my hands and two guys on motorcycle stopped by me, grabbed my phone quickly and went away.

I’m glad at least I’ve synced my photos with Dropbox whenever I can, so I can post this one from my computer. I only lost a couple photos from Museo Popol Vuh. Now I need to either buy a cheap digital camera or a single use film camera, as I’m leaving for Tikal tomorrow. While it is not my intention to speak about the relative safety of other third world countries, except to say that I did not experience similar events in my recent trips to China, Mexico and Honduras. I feel that most Guatemalans are nice, friendly, and honest people who would probably be more enraged what had happened to me in their country than I was. I’m simply sharing this information and hoping other travelers who also plan to visit or already in Guatemala to be careful.

I want to have my life for the unexpected

I find it’s hard to answer these questions,


Which one should I choose? The place I was born, the place I had lived for most years of my life, the place of my current residence on the record, the place my parents are from and the place my parents currently living – are all different. Therefore I don’t know which one to choose.

I don’t know where I am from.

Neither do I know where I am going.

Sometimes people would ask me where I plan to stay after graduating from college. “Going back to China?” They would ask.

“No,” I’d reply, “I’m definitely not going back to China.”

I have lived in China for more than ten years – more than half of my entire life, and want no more of.

Then I left for the States.

Programming is logical, abstract, cool. I chose it because I love languages, and thought since I can learn natural languages, then it won’t be too hard for me to learn artificial ones. I am ready to study seriously again – programming, technology, and everything related. At the age of 18, coming to my senses as a human being at last, I am not done with learning. I know I am no longer ashamed of my ignorance, nor afraid of liking things.

Perhaps I should be impressed by the fact that I haven’t attached myself to things, that I am loose and free enough to walk away from anything at anytime. But what am I free for? I want to have my life for the unexpected.

Anyhow, I still take it for granted that not settling down is a necessary rebellion.