Thursday, December 26, 2013

Eggs or Pasta?

This is a blog post that I wrote in March 2012, about our journey home after volunteering at Honour Village for the first time.  I'm not sure why I didn't publish it then, and after reading it over, I thought some of you might still enjoy reading it, and learning a bit more about what it's like to fly half way round the world, even if it is old news now.  Since then, we've stopped flying from Bangkok to Siem Reap, and now go over land.  (You can read about our over land travel here)

March 2012.....
For the first leg of our return journey, our plane took off from Siem Reap at about 2:30pm on March 7, bound for Bangkok, Thailand.

The roundabout at Siem Reap Airport

I think most air passenger carriers around the world have a lot to learn from Bangkok Airways , 'Southeast Asia's Boutique Airway', about how to treat their customers,. As we taxied onto the runway, we were given a 'refreshing towel' to cool off and to wash our hands. 

A cool moist towel on a hot day
Just what I needed

Shortly after the plane took off, (and well before it had leveled out) the flight attendants were already serving a boxed light lunch, as well as coffee and tea - All this on a 45 minute flight! 

Fancy box that the lunch comes packed in...

...and inside, a delicious lunch of fruit, sandwiches,
dessert, water, and fruit juice.

At Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, the complimentary shuttle van for the Convenient Grand Hotel was waiting for us.   The hotel is about a 10 minute ride from the airport, located in the middle of not much, so it's really not that 'Convenient', but it is 'Grand'.  Below is a photo of the the room we got for $30 US/night.  Buffet breakfast was included, but unfortunately we had to be at the airport for 4 am, long before the kitchen opened.  

Our room at The Convenient Grand Hotel

For reasons that will soon become apparent, I won't name the airline we used for the remainder of our journey.  The flight to Narita airport (Tokyo) took about 6 hours.  Still too early in the day to sleep, we enjoyed breakfast and a snack and watched two movies (I thought The King's Speech was excellent. True Grit. prefer the original with John Wayne.)  By the time we arrived at Narita airport we were really looking forward to the next flight (13 hours) where we would be able to have a good rest.  Little known to us, that wasn't about to happen.

In the waiting lounge at Tokyo's Narita Airport, we noticed an older man and woman who were carrying two very young children.  The baby girl seemed quite calm and content, but the small boy was noticeably distressed, and wailed incessantly.  I said a silent prayer to be seated far away from them.  

Sadly, sometimes the answer to my prayers is a resounding  'No!'  Due to a booking error, the seating for this couple and their two children had to be changed.  The man and whining young boy (who'd originally been seated about 5 rows back of us) were relocated to the seat directly in front of us..... and that sad little boy howled and cried non-stop until about one hour before the flight ended.  We didn't get any sleep either.  

By this point, we'd been enroute for over 20 hours. I was exhausted and had lost all track of time, but I do remember the choice for the final meal they served on that flight was 'Eggs or Pasta?'.  (Hmmmmm.... Do I want to eat Breakfast or Dinner?)

Turbulance and a weather disturbance delayed our arrival into Washington.  I've probably already mentioned I'm nervous on airplanes, so it was a good thing that I was 'well-lubricated' with wine while that airplane rocked and rolled for that last hour or so.  (That wine was also responsible for calming my jangled nerves created by the aforementioned disturbance in the seat ahead of us.)  

With only minutes to spare before our next flight, we practically ran a marathon to get to our gate in Washington (Dulles) airport on time.  It's a huge airport.  We made it... just barely.

This last flight was short, and fairly uneventful, except that the back on Gordon's seat would not go into an upright position.  (I thought that was a violation of TSA regulations...) In any event, we arrived in Buffalo safe and sound, and what a total shock to our system!  We'd gone from temperatures of nearly 40C (100F) to 0C (32F).  Even more strange, it had been 22 hours since we'd left Bangkok, and by Buffalo time, we'd arrived a mere 12 hours later.  (How wierd is that?)  My internal clock was still on Cambodia time which was 6:00 am Wednesday, but since we were half way around the world and had crossed the international date line, it was actually 6:00 pm Tuesday.  

Now I understand why they asked us if we wanted eggs or pasta.

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