Bangkok, Day 1 - The Journey
Tuesday, December 5
Mad last minute packing. I was going to check my huge suitcase which was essentially empty except for 25 lbs (I'm not kidding!) of unread magazines from the past 5 months. I was going to carry on my rollaboard and backpack with reading materials, iPod shuffle and iPod (my batteries wouldn't last 24+ hours), a change of clothing, my inflatable neck pillow and of course my arsenal of medication (sleeping pills, Xanax, nasal spray, eye drops, benedryl, etc.)
For international flights, you are told to arrive 2 hours before departure. I find this to be a total crock. It doesn't take you any longer to get through security. But, I decided to humour United and showed up at 7:00 a.m. for my 8:45 a.m. flight.
When I checked in, the agent asked if I would like to be placed in the 7:45 flight so I could wait in more comfort at the Red Carpet Club in Chicago for my Tokyo flight. It made sense so I hopped onto the earlier plane.
I got to Chicago ontime and waited in the quiet of the Red Carpet Club for my 12:00 departure to Tokyo. I did the math and figured out that Bangkok was exactly 12 hours ahead of DC time. Which meant that if I could sleep for most of the Chicago - Tokyo leg (it's a 13.5 hour flight), I would be able to reset my body clock pretty close to Bangkok time.
The Tokyo flight was ontime. In all honesty, considering my obsession with keeping hydrated and the unfortunate affect of having to go to the toilet every other hour, I should have seated myself on the aisle. But, on long flights I prefer the window simply because I like to lean on the wall of the plane as I sleep. Luckily, there was an empty seat between myself and the woman seated on the aisle and though I had to wake her up a few times to go to the washroom, at least we weren't playing elbow jockey on the armrests.
As soon as I was seated, I popped a Rozeram along with a benedryl. By the time the first food service came along, I was very drowsy. After drinking a glass of wine, I had blissfully nodded off even before they came to take away the trays.
I woke up five hours later when the next food service came through and fell asleep again soon for another couple of hours. I stayed awake for the rest of the flight and amused myself by reading every page of the six newspapers I'd collected before boarding (Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times) and the first of my books, Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinnette - The Journey and listening to my iPod.
Wednesday, December 6
We landed at Narita at 4:30 p.m. Tokyo time. I had a couple of hours between flights and freshened up at the Red Carpet Club at Narita. Nicely appointed with a great open bar.
My 6:35 flight to Bangkok took off ontime. I finished Marie Antoinette and started on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals. Seven dull hours later, I landed in the new Bangkok International Airport at 11:45 p.m.
Customs was a breeze and I immediately found an ATM, got cash and exited to get a taxi. A hot wall of humid, petrol filled air greeted me as I walked outside. The queue was very long and the whole concept of waiting your turn seemed lost on a large group of my peeps from the homeland (aka South Korea) who, judging from their golf bags, were on a golfing holiday.
Eventually, I found a taxi and was on my way. It's about 19 miles from the airport to central Bangkok. All told my taxi cost 240 baht which was less than $7. Shocking! I pulled up to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. Cousin Izzie was waiting for me as she had arrived the night before. It's a lovely hotel and our room was gi-normous.
Thankfully, I was exhausted enough to fall right to sleep.