The 36-hour Day: Welcome to the United States … and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

The three of us, Ian, Mahirah, and myself, took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 2:30 pm (23rd Apr). A 7-hour flight to Haneda, Tokyo, a 2-hour stopover, followed by a 10-hour flight to the Los Angeles International Airport, and we’re all just adrenaline-fueled zombies staggering about – and we weren’t even done yet. Another 3-hour stopover was to be followed by a 5-hour flight to Washington D.C., our intended destination (final destination just always sounded too morbid).

Haneda Airport did provide some beefy solace.

At Dulles International Airport (5:20 am, 24th Apr), first thing I noticed was a small, moon-sized crater on my luggage that beckons belief. It’s a real solid piece of luggage and I suspect that the Hulk must’ve been part-timing at the airport – there simply was no other way. Sorted it out with the baggage authority, who were very polite and helpful about it, and then headed to Hyatt Place … not before a bacon and egg bagel and a hot American coffee.

Evidence of the Hulk gone broke and moving luggage at Dulles International Airport. Be very afraid. A broke Hulk is an angry Hulk.

At Hyatt Place, the other two got their rooms hassle-free, and I took a little tumble finding that the room I was given was occupied, and the substitute room key won’t work – fixed when someone came from the lobby to help me out. Well, it was only 9:00 am; plenty of time for the day to get better – and get better it did.

After a nice Italian lunch at China Town, Ian and I took a stroll to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The place was amazing – if we only had a little more attention span and a lot less jetlag, we would’ve emerged significantly wiser. Here are some of the things I found interesting the museum:

I enjoyed that Risotto al-funghi lunch – nope, this wasn’t in the museum.
Here you see that a T-rex’s skull is actually only a little larger than my head. This picture is simply to prove that I was actually in the museum.
A moai from Easter Island. After reading much about these from Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”, it’s great to finally see one – even if it wasn’t on Rapa Nui itself. Memories of unsustainable extraction of the island’s natural resources leading to its current barren state resurfaced.
Pardon the “EXIT” sign reflection, but these birds … are huge. I’ve seen them in pictures and tv countless times, but seeing these life-sized, taxidermized avian monsters right in front of you is actually slightly scary if you allow your mind to wander.
An unusual 2-tusked narwhal specimen with an anonymous, token Malaysian YSEALI fellow in the background. Those tusks were over 2-meters long.
The dingo (foreground) and the extinct thylacine (background).
This double coconut exists. In the Seychelles. It just does.

Of course, after successfully stretching my day out with Ian, we got back quite late. And, I slept at a respectable 9 pm, waking up fresh and recharged the following morning for breakfast. Kidding, I got up at 3:30 am along with roommate (now, buddy) Reeve from Singapore and thereafter failed to muster another wink of sleep – both of us.

The next day (only the 25th April now) was simply terrible, save for the good company of newfound YSEALI-an friends … and not forgetting Tony and Kara.

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