Day 2: San Francisco, USA; Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok Thailand
Whenever I am embarking on a long flight I always wish the smart guys would soon patent the “Beam me up Scotty” method of transportation. Poof and I’m in Bangkok. That would be nice. As luck would have it, I get to take a plane.
My mind did mental gymnastics with my three clocks all night long. Eventually I just took the plunge and hit the shower an hour early. No harm done. This gave me time for coffee and Max. He loves attention and clearly seemed a bit confused about what he should be packing or whether he should be packing at all.
An immaculate black limo arrives for us right on schedule and LeeAnn and I are wisked away through quiet sleepy streets to the freeway. At eight o’clock on a Sunday morning it is devoid of the traffic that I usually associate with California. The hills and valleys are blanketed with oak trees and a low haze hangs in the air. I have no idea where I am. The California girl is in charge!
During processing at the Air Korea desk we are told that our flight will be delayed. Nonetheless we optimistically wave goodbye to the luggage having checked that the tags say Bangkok. We still have several hours before we have to be at the gate so a leisurely breakfast and seeking out a exchange kiosk that sells Thai Bhat helps to fill the time. We spend $207.57 to get 5000 Bhat. Who knows how far that will stretch?
I always used to like the order related to flying. The stewardess’ on Air Canada were well groomed and nicely attired. The uniforms are still snappy but the hair and makeup to create that finished look have gone the way of the “whoofal” bird. It appears that Air Korea still has all those pages in their stewardess manual. As we wait to board our flight a battalion of smarty dressed size six bodies, clad in beige suits with light turquoise neck scarves starched to withstand the rigors of an eleven hour flight, march by. It struck me as curious that passengers are not allowed to carry weapons but these ladies had chopstick like hair doodads that could second as barbeque screws!
Ipads, Iphones, Kindles and computers are all getting a run for their money as we wait for the flight to be called. Seems like being in the moment is only good if the moment is elsewhere.
It’s late morning by the time we actually board. Small kids are cranky already and parents look exhausted. We haven’t even started. It’s a day flight so I’m thinking that I will read my way to Korea but the flight crew has other ideas. My seat is loaded up with paraphernalia– a pillow, blanket, slippers, eyeshades and water. Humm.
It turns out that the skinny-minny stewardesses can actually pass each other in the aisle and that speeds up food service and their plan that we should all sleep our way to Korea. Lunch is no sooner over that the lights are dimmed. You will sleep. The message is clear. Bedtime is 2:30 pm.
Well the baby in the row behind us didn’t get the message. As I try to tune out the ambient noise, it crosses my mind that I could slip the parents the name of a Barbara Colorosa child management tape. I think they are really going to need it.
Somewhere around 7:30 PST all signs point to supper. Lights up. Smells begin to waft forward from the rear galley and make their way straight through to first class who apparently gets to eat. Our turn eventually arrives but the pasta dish is less than inviting albeit the smile that came with it should win anyone over.
I read some more, watch a Gaudi video on the entertainment unit, snooze a little and magically its time to start our approach into Incheon International Airport.
Remember the child. He is not happy. His parents are not happy. Three stewardesses are determined that one child will not ruin their spotless record.They begin to swarm. I’m thinking it’s time for the chopsticks to become weapons. All the smiling and unintelligible words do not help. This child has something to say and he will not to be deterred.
During our approach, we pass over an amazingly long bridge stranded in low tide. The Incheon Grand Bridge took four years to build and opened in 2009. It connects Yeongjong with Incheon and provides direct access between Songdo and Incheon. This is a six-lane wonder that stretches for 21.38 kilometers over the sea and, in places, hangs 74 meters above the shipping channel. It has a special seismic design that includes expansion joints as it is in a seismically active area. I still think I like viewing it from above.
We land through thick fog at the Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Korea. The sun is a red ball setting on this day and we have another six-hour flight before Bangkok. Its 5:10 pm. Sunday was lost somewhere over the Pacific and it is now Monday night and we have miles to go before we sleep.
By 6:35 we find ourselves boarding another Korean Air Flight amidst a million kids all brandishing Thailand passports. Its interesting that one is caring a plastic bag from the ROM in Toronto. These are clearly rich kids. But they are very well behaved rich kids who seem to span an age range of between seven and thirteen. There are the cute little ones who seem too young for world travel and then the gawky ones who have finished some kind of growth spurt and haven’t yet found a new balance point. They just giggle and fall over their feet as they wrestle their souvenir-laden backpacks into the overhead storage.
The six hours to Bangkok goes by quickly and it’s reassuring to find “Tan” our guide, standing in the mob at arrivals waving a sign with our names on it. LeeAnn’s luggage arrives in a timely manner while I begin to sweat thinking about what I would have to do to replace the contents of mine if for some reason it did not show up on the carousel. All that worry is for nothing as eventually I claim my bag and head to the van.
The highway is broad and the city expansive. It’s hot. There are few cars on the multi-laned highway but the lights glare off the wet pavement and motorcycles dart in and out. We pass through two tollgates charging twenty five and fifty baht respectively and head further into the city of more than fourteen million people.
The Siam Boutique Hotel is our home for the next two nights. It is centrally located downtown. Our upgraded room has a commanding corner view of the city lights but really my eyes are no longer focusing and I just want to go to bed. Tan will be here in the morning to show us some of the sites.