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Guild Wars 2006 World Championship
Gaile's Diary - Day One - Departure

10:50 p.m. — We're on a late-night flight from Seattle. It departs after midnight but I'm a bit early. This precision of timing is the result of my memories of galloping through the airport to make the flight to San Francisco for the World Preview Event party and of how they were, literally, pulling the door closed as I arrived at the gate. I figure I can be a little early rather than risk a repeat. So I arrive at the Crown Room Club Lounge first. Mike O'Brien and Tyler Kim arrive about 30 minutes later, and Jeff Strain and his father a few minutes after that. (They were book shopping; something I remember from trips I've taken with Jeff to London to see our NCsoft Europe partners. I think Jeff supports every airport bookstore he comes across. Certainly a noble endeavor! :) )


11:35 p.m. — I ask Mike about Taiwan and he asks me what I know. I roll off a few facts, describe the photographs I've seen, say how much I hope to see some of the beautiful settings around Taipei. Mike tells me a bit about what he's seen there and it all sounds pretty great. I've been to 17 countries, but this is my first trip to Asia – a dream come true, really – and I'm really excited about this!

Until…

Mike decides to share his videos with me.

Videos of air disasters.

The exploding plane.
The amateur video of a flight evacuation.
The failed takeoff with the plane going end over end.
The bouncing landing that so spectacularly results in a burst of red flames.

Joy.

I smile politely and grit my teeth. He offers a few more videos, and I finally bust out with a sarcastic commentary on his choice in "pre-flight entertainment." Mike smiles wryly.

It's a decent lounge. Comfortable chairs – much better than the steel and plastic that is the airport norm – and a bird's eye view of the passengers below us. We snack on peanuts, Sun Chips, and granola bars. Tyler opens his laptop and examines the box art for Guild Wars Factions, and I crane my neck trying to discretely peek over his shoulder. He finally takes pity on me and lets me see the box art. As Hemingway said, "And it was good." Nice images of the Assassin and the Ritualist. The Ritualist is wearing my favorite head-dress, and the Assassin looks sufficiently threatening, with the gleam off her dagger matching the steely glint in her eye.


(Click here for a larger image!)

1:45 a.m. — An hour delayed, the flight is still exceptionally nice. Excellent seating arrangements, good food, and hey, for the first time ever, I manage to nap on a flight. 14 hours, two meals, and three cat naps later, I see the sky start to lighten. I catch Mike's eye and ask him to take a photograph of the red edge of sunrise, which he does. A half hour later, the sun is a burnished red, and he obliges with a few more pictures.


5:50 a.m. Taipei Time (1:50 p.m. Pacific Time) — And as the sun rises, I notice a strange phenomenon: The clouds are tinted lavender. The distant haze is lilac, and the mountains of Taiwan are a dusky purple. And given my Ranger's (and my) predilection for all things purple, I know I'm going to love this place.