Tag Archives: San Diego

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.

A Week in San Diego

First of all, a special thanks to my friends and family here in San Diego. My sister put me up at her place and cooked me some fantastic meals, making my stay in San Diego pretty cheap. She treated me to a day out at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, and lent me her car to run some errands too. On Sunday, some other friends that my sister and I have known for years, invited us to dinner. We had perfectly grilled, marinated Ahi tuna, al dente asparagus spears,  and flavorful red wine. A leisurely dip in the hot tub completed a remarkable evening. This all is very much appreciated as money doesn’t grow on trees in my back yard. I did splurge a bit in Portland, and glad I did, as the time with my kids was well worth it; we don’t get to see each other often enough. Once I get to Thailand I’ll be looking to live inexpensively, eating from street food carts and staying in some cheaper accommodations. I’ve read that a furnished studio apartment can be had for less than $350 per month. We’ll see.

The weather here in Sad Diego has been close to perfect. A bit of a preview of what awaits me in Thailand, I hope. It’s been mostly mid-seventies during the day and forties at night, although this morning it was 29°F when I awoke. This was nowhere near as cold as in the Northeast U.S. where, with the windchill, it was 25° below zero (-25°F). Have to say, I’m not missing that one bit.

I like the hiking here in Southern Cal. Getting out there is easy since the weather is rarely an excuse. A short drive out to Lake Poway provided a hiking trail that is quite popular. We shared the trail with other hikers,  mountain bikers and horseback riders.

Trail around Lake Poway, Notice the Horses at the Bend on the Left

Trail around Lake Poway, Notice the Horses at the Bend on the Left

Lake Poway

Lake Poway

Here in San Diego, I’ve spent many of my days learning how to work with my tablet computer for blogging. The Android operating system is very young. I’m finding things that I took for granted on a Windows machine often don’t work on the tablet. For instance, I can plug a keyboard and mouse into the tablet but the Home and End keys don’t work, and right clicking on a mouse often does nothing. These little bugs are slowing me down for sure.

Photo editing is another tool that is clumsy on the tablet. I am exploring new programs, and will eventually find a solution, but I really miss Photoshop on my laptop. I discovered a scaled down version of Photoshop for Android,  I’ll be trying that out in the near future.

Since I won’t be back in the San Diego area for some time,  I headed out to my favorite  Mexican spot for one more visit. This time I opted for Huevos Rancheros, English translation – Rancher’s Eggs.

Huevos Rancheros - "rancher's eggs"

Huevos Rancheros – “rancher’s eggs”

Buried under the avocado and the cheese are a couple fried eggs, salsa, beans, rice, and a corn tortilla. I’ve found that, like most things, there are as many ways to make this dish as there are chefs. It’s always one of my favorites and I rarely pass it up when it’s on the breakfast menu. This was $8.00 at a local diner, it’ll be interesting to see how much it costs in Thailand.

I head out for Thailand tomorrow. It’s going to be a very, very long day with total travel time being more than 28 hours; if all goes well… lol. I’d better get to packing since I’ve only got a few hours left to prep for the trip. So far my plan for traveling light has worked out pretty well, though I did borrow a sweater in Portland to combat the cold there. I’ll try to update as I go along, but it may be difficult once I leave the U.S. since my phone won’t work till I get to Thailand and slip in a new SIM card.

 

 

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…….