Tag Archives: airport

Flying to Bangkok, Thailand

My sister would be driving me to the San Diego airport in the morning. We agreed on the schedule, 20 minutes to the airport, and arrive a bit more than an hour before the flight, plus leave extra time for good measure. I wasn’t checking any bags so I could skip the lines and use a kiosk for check in.  The next morning, we left the house only about 5 minutes behind schedule. A quick stop for a coffee at Starbucks, then on to the airport. The morning rush hour traffic was just getting started so there was little worry even though we were about 15 minutes behind schedule now. What happen next however, ate up all the spare time and then some. While chatting about my trip, we got distracted and missed the exit to the airport, now we were headed for downtown San Diego. After waiting anxiously at several red traffic lights, and dealing with the one way streets, we got turned around and headed back toward the airport. By the time we arrived I only had 20 minutes to get my boarding pass and get though security.

When I tried to get my ticket at the kiosk, my flight was no longer listed! Off I went to the counter to see the friendly ticketing agent and find out what has gone awry. As it turned out I was too late, and they could no longer issue a boarding pass for that flight. Oops. The next available flight was in about 2 hours, but making the connection would be challenging with only 30 minutes between flights in Seattle. With little choice I booked the flight. The ticketing agent mentioned than I may be able to get transfered back onto my original flight once I pass through security and get to the gate. The travelers in line at the security checkpoint were helpful, and let me jump to the head of the line. I put my backpack and jacket on the conveyor to be xrayed and headed for the metal detector. BEEEP.  In my haste I had forgotten my mobile phone was in my pocket and it set off the metal detector. Now TSA decided a full check over was in order, shoes off, through the back scatter x ray machine (aka naked scanner), and backpack searched and rescanned. No problem of course, but a loss of time that I didn’t have to waste.

With my shoes back on, and my backpack zipped up, I was finally off to the gate. To my amazement my original flight hadn’t left yet. The ticketing agent at the gate was very helpful and was able to swap me back onto my original flight to Seattle.
Piece of cake. Lol.

Forty minutes later the Boeing 737 was crusing at 35,000 feet and bound for Seattle, Washington. Breakfast was offered, and since I hadn’t eaten yet, I opted for the egg sandwich on ciabatta bread. It was scrambled eggs (powdered) with cheese and some sort of meat-like patty. I think it was what they refer to in Sci-Fi movies as, a protein pellet.  It was really, really awful. Reminded me of a scene from the movie “Crocodile Dundee” where, refering to a goanna lizard roasting over a fire, he states, “Well, you can live on it, but it tastes like shit.” I ate it anyway. The TAZO black tea, that I chose for a beverage was a welcome accompaniment.

Two hours later I landed in Seattle and settled into the two hour layover before the next flight to Tokyo, Japan.

The flight from Seattle to Tokyo was just over 10 hours; a long flight by almost anyone’s standards. On board the Airbus A330-300, all food and beverages were complimentary, including beer, wine, and spirits. With the recent troubles now behind me, and looking forward to a long, relaxing flight I ordered a libation. Dewar’s blended Scotch whiskey was the house brand which was fine with me. At the same time dinner was being served. Teriyaki beef with a salad, vegetables,  rice, and a dinner roll. It was decidedly better than breakfast, of course that wouldn’t take much. It was a good flight without much turbulance, but long and tiring. The entertainment system, which had dozens of movies on demand, helped pass the time, and I watched three or four movies before we landed.

A two and a half hour layover in Tokyo awaited me as I disembarked. I’m not one for sitting still for long periods of time, so I wandered around the terminal and fiddled with my phone a bit, swapping out the SIM card so it would work in Thailand when I arrived. The boarding seemed to take longer than usual, but maybe it’s just because I was getting tired. I walked around some more, waiting for my boarding zone to be called, zone two. After what seemed like half an hour, and lots of wandering around, it was time to board. I guess all that wandering made me look suspicious, I was pulled aside and searched again. Backpack checked, shoes off, arms out, and the metal detecting wand scans me once again. Maybe I’ll try to sit still next time. Na, probably not.

On board the Boeing 747-400, I was feeling pretty weary. I had been traveling now for over 23 hours without sleep and still had this six and a half hour flight, plus a cab ride to the hotel. I did mange to nap a bit on the plane dispite sitting nearly upright, maybe two or three hours.

Again food and beverages were complimentary, though I only had water and tea on this flight, skipping any meals and adult beverages. I wanted to be sure I had my wits about me (as much as a sleep deprived person can) when I arrived in Thailand.

The plane arrived almost an hour late due to a delayed departure from Tokyo. A retativley short, 30 minute foray through customs and immigration and I was officially in Thailand.

Having read internet posts about getting a taxi at Suvarnabhumi (pronounced: su-wan-na-poom) Airport in Bangkok, I knew I needed to head downstairs to the public taxi stands. No waiting. I was assigned a cab, and handed a form with the cab driver’s information on it and my hotel destination. This is used to report the driver if he tries to overcharge you or take you somewhere other than your requested destination. The cab was an older model and had no rear seatbelts. A few small dents and scratches, but clean and reliable enough to get me to downtown Bangkok. A twenty minute ride later and I arrived at my hotel. The cost for the taxi ride was 270 baht, or about $9.00.

Now, a little problem at the hotel with check in, the room I booked on Expedia was not available. I booked a room with a single king size bed, and all they had left was a room with two smaller beds pushed together. They wouldn’t upgrade my room, and I was in no mood to argue after traveling for 34 hours. Up to the room I went. Make some phone calls to update family on the progress of my trip, and finally into bed at 4:30 am, in Bangkok.

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Up next, my first day in Bangkok. Feel free to leave questions or comments.

Ringing in the New Year in San Diego

I have arrived in San Diego!

Flight – The flight out of Portland, Oregon was easy. Departing at 11:30 am, the plane was fully booked, and only 5 minutes late taking off. The trip was quite smooth despite some cloud cover on the way out which had me wondering if we’d be in for a bumpy ride.

Mount St. Helens Off in the Distance

A snow capped Mount St. Helens was visible out the window as we climbed to cruising altitude. A mountain with the top blown off of it is quite a sight to see. I remembered a trip I took there years ago and saw the astonishing view of hundreds of thousands of trees laid over like toothpicks on the hillside.

A California girl with blond hair, french tips, and pink luggage, sat near the window. I had the middle seat, which I usually avoid, but it was all that was left when I booked the flight. The isle seat was occupied by a short-haired lady, perhaps 10 years my senior. She had bad breath, but fortunately we didn’t speak the whole trip. The flight was relatively short at just under two and a half hours. This trip is a piece of cake compared to the upcoming 29 hour slog to Thailand.

San Diego – I actually arrived in San Diego a few days ago, on December 30th. The weather here is very pleasant during the day, hitting the high seventies, and cool at night. Some days, I just have to take to the hiking trails for some exercise. I’ve probably walked six miles since I arrived three days ago, and it’s a good start to my plan to shed a few pounds.

Welcome to San Diego

Welcome to San Diego

Hike – Yesterday, New Year’s Day, I went for a hike with my sister, who lives here in San Diego. She lets me stay at her place and in exchange I repair all sorts of things that have broken since my last visit. Well, all that didn’t require immediate attention anyway.

A Local Hiking Trail N.E. of San Diego.

A Local Hiking Trail N.E. of San Diego.

With the winter, here in Southern California, comes cooler temperature and a bit of rain. This really helps to green-up the normally subdued desert landscape. The scenes, above and below, will appear much less vibrant when the heat and nonexistent precipitation become the norm throughout the summer.

Looking Back at a Valley from Part Way up the Mountain

Looking Back at a Valley from Part Way up the Mountain Trail

It’s not uncommon to see rattle snakes on these trails. I’ve seen five or six over the years that I’ve hiked here. They usually sense you coming and scurry away before you see them, but sometimes they’re asleep and you get closer than you’d like. I’ve heard of many, many people seeing rattle snakes, but never heard that anyone was bitten by one.

Breakfast – I have developed quite a taste for Mexican food here in the Southwest. There are several good Mexican restaurants around the San Diego area, it might have something to do with Mexico being a stones throw away. I walked about a mile to a little drive-through Mexican restaurant that I frequent when I’m in the area. They have no indoor seating, only a few tables outside, but that works fine with the warm weather and virtually no biting insects year round. I ordered up a machaca breakfast burrito (they serve breakfast all day) with scrambled eggs, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Machaca Breakfast Burrito

Machaca Breakfast Burrito

It probably weighed over a pound and a half. The tortillas they use are about 16 inches in diameter, which makes for a pretty large burrito. I applied the hot sauce liberally and enjoyed a breakfast I’ve not been able to duplicate anywhere else. $4.76 plus $0.37 tax (7.5%) Total $5.12, I include this for future reference to prices in Thailand.

Well, I’m off to take care of some of the chores on the repair list. Dishwasher, R.O. system, lights, etc, etc, etc…….

 

Merry Christmas from Portland, Oregon

I’ve arrived in Portland!

Air Travel – The rerouted flight went along without much trouble at all. The final leg of the flight was non-stop from Charlotte, NC to Portland, OR. The Airbus 321 departed only about 25 minutes late due to an issue with the paperwork. Seems some fuel was unaccounted for. Part of the delay was made up during the flight, despite a 136 knot headwind, and I arrived in Portland at about 9:15 pm. The first class seat was a welcome, and unexpected addition to the trip. The jovial lady taking care of the first class cabin was a veteran stewardess, professional, courteous, and witty. The dinner she served was barbecue beef, garden salad, shrimp cocktail, mixed vegetable (broccoli and carrots), and a dinner roll. The beef was tender and tasty, the veggies were a bit over cooked for my liking and the salad was getting a bit limp as might be expected having been prepared many, many hours earlier. Pairing with complimentary cocktails, vodka tonic was my choice du jour, rounded out a tasty meal for this hungry traveler. Things were looking up.

Arrival in Portland – By the time we landed I was feeling pretty exhausted, and experiencing that wired feeling you get from being over tired. My daughters met me at the airport to give me a ride to the hotel. Hugs and seasons greetings all around. We had not seen each other for many months and it was good to see them again. Our spirits were high and everyone was happy knowing we’d be together for Christmas.

Within an hour we arrived at the hotel. It’s usually a 20 minute ride but, due to distractions from conversation and the general euphoria of being together with family again, we missed an exit and took a bit longer sightseeing route. My youngest daughter was pretty tired and opted to head for home as we arrived at the hotel.  My eldest daughter, who lives about 12 blocks from the hotel in downtown Portland, opted to stay a little longer. We enjoyed a cocktail at the hotel lounge and chatted, catching up on what we’ve both been up to. After a half hour or so I walked her back to apartment and headed for the hotel.

It was now just after midnight here in Portland and I had been going for about 24 hours.  The king size bed was a welcome sight. I expected to be sound asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow but, it took over half an hour to finally fall asleep.  Five hours later I awoke. It was nearly 9:00 a.m. Eastern time (6:00 a.m. here in Portland) and my internal clock decided it was time to wake up. Oh well, I guess I’d have to catch up on sleep another day.

Christmas Eve – Ah, what to have for breakfast? I ventured out of the hotel to have a look around and see about finding something for breakfast. The first thing I saw were some street food carts directly across the street from the hotel. There was Mexican, Falafels, Greek, and a Thai food cart. A Thai food cart! Perfect I thought. I knew from researching about Thailand that I would be eating from Thai food carts very often, and very soon. I figured I may as well get started  and it would also give me a reference point to compare the carts in Portland to the carts in Thailand. Hmmm, not really what I had in mind for breakfast though. I opted to get an egg-roll for $3.00, and to keep looking for somewhere for breakfast. The egg-roll was tasty, but still cool in the middle, not quite long enough in the deep fryer.

Back at the Hotel, I stopped at the front desk for a recommendation for breakfast. The athletic looking young lady was more than eager to offer her opinion. After a short list of near-by eateries was discussed, I opted for her top pick of Tasty n Alder. It was a bit more than a mile walk through the streets of Portland but, as I discovered, more than worth the effort.

Tasty n Alder is one of the “diamonds in Portland” as a tourist put it that sat next to me as I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast. I had: Polenta & Sugo with mozzarella & over easy egg.

Polenta & Sugo with mozzarella & over easy egg

Polenta & Sugo with mozzarella & over easy egg

After breakfast I texted the gang and a plan for the day was set. We’d go for dinner and head to Peacock Lane to see the Christmas Light display. Apparently, the residents of Peacock Lane have been doing, and overdoing, Christmas light displays since 1920. A quick Google search will likely give you a bit more insight than I can offer here.

Dinner was at Thai Chili Jam.  A preview of the many Thai meals in my future. The food was excellent and the owner taught me a few new Thai phrases as a bonus. Life is good.

Christmas Day – I joined the family at their three bedroom apartment late in the morning. A cozy place on the first floor. In the living room was a natural Christmas tree with brilliant silver and blue ornaments and twinkling lights to set a festive mood. Beneath the tree were many cheery, brightly wrapped gifts with shiny gold and silver bows.

“A Christmas Story” marathon was playing on the TV as friends and family watched the traditional show. The air was filled with the aroma of Christmas dinner being prepared in the galley kitchen; a bone-in ham, with sides of scalloped potatoes, and corn. Christmas cookies made by Grandma, from old family recipes handed down from generation to generation, would finish the feast.

After dinner the younger generation played a multifarious board game called “Terra Mystica“. I watched as they moved their pieces and planned their strategy. My eldest daughter won in the end, and all declared the game to be exceptional.

It was truly wonderful to be able to spend Christmas with my children.