I am on flight MU586 en route to Shanghai. I am sitting in seat 35D of a Boeing 777-300ER. I am in an aisle seat and on my right is an Asian couple, asleep under the light blankets given out by China Eastern Airlines. Sitting in front of me is another couple, but of the Caucasian variety. They look like backpackers.
The Boeing 777 is a twin aisle jet with 3 seats on either side and 4 seats in the middle. Being in seat 35D puts me on the left side of the middle, and close to first class. On my left, near the windows, is a ton of Asians, and most of them are sound asleep. In fact, while we only left LAX a few hours ago at 11:30 AM, almost every window shade is down while many of the passengers attempt to sleep or watch movies on the headrest monitors.
I find it interesting that it's the middle of the afternoon and no one wants to be able to look outside. It's been a while since I've flown internationally but the unanimous decision to shut out the light feels familiar, which I'm fairly certain is because the same thing happened on my flight to Hong Kong in 2011.
I like natural light and I just tolerate artificial light. When I'm home I wait to turn on any light until the lack of incoming sunlight makes it difficult to read. I would rather stumble in the dark in the morning than turn on some ungodly light bulb and blast my eyeballs with that horrendous yellow glow.
I wonder if the avoidance of sunlight on this flight comes with practice, or experience. Maybe it's their way of preparing themselves for the time zone difference. If I have to choose between a plane-wide unnatural aversion to natural light or a conscious decision to prepare the mind and body for being on the other side of the world, however, I'll go with the latter.
Before I left, people were asking me if I was excited, or stating how excited I must be.