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Thailand wrap up
Well, I'm home. It feels like days ago that I began my return trek — and, I guess it was, though when adjusting for time, I left Bangkok Friday and got home, well, Friday.
The return began with what I can only describe as one of the more frightening experiences in my life. At 3 a.m., I took a taxi from the hotel to the airport. I should have realized what was in store for me when the driver giggled as he asked me in his halting English, "holiday boom boom?"
In previous posts, I mentioned how the cabs all looked like they came from a Vin Diesel flick. You know, like The Fast and the Furious? Apparently, this cabbie was from the film too. He drove like an absolute maniac. Drifting in and out of lanes, passing giant tanker trucks and careening around curves, he pushed the speedometer well past 140 KPH. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty. I should have told him to slow down, but I didn't.
Amazingly, we got to the airport without incident. Even though my trip from the airport to the hotel just three days earlier as 500 baht, this trip was 700. Not only did this cabbie endanger my life, he ripped me off. Not a good way to start.
However, things rapidly improved. After waiting in line at the airport, I managed to score an upgrade to business class — for a price — from Bangkok to Tokyo. For an additional $300, seat 13H on a 747-400 was all mine. It would prove to be worth it.
While I waited for the flight, I needed to find an airline power adapter for my computer. The whole point of going to business class was to be able to write my school papers while traveling. After such a hectic week, I hadn't had much opportunity to do my work. If I could work on the first leg of the flight, and keep my laptop charged, I should be all set. Then, I could return to economy for the second leg of the flight with a full charge for any remaining work.
It took more than an hour to find the gear I needed to connect the MacBook to the airplane's power outlet. I had to gerry-rig a system with two inverters and I definitely paid for the privilege, but it worked.
Before boarding , while in the waiting area, a guy next to me was reading Genesis and the Big Bang. He was wearing a marine corps. hat. I read parts of the book over his shoulder. It was totally idioitic. Complete "intelligent design" bullshit. I wanted to yell at him, but mollified myself by thinking he might just be reading it to laugh at it. Doubtful, but it made me feel better.
Upon boarding, I discovered that my seat was upstairs. It's the first time I've gotten to go upstairs on a 747, so that brought out a certain child-like glee. Upon sitting down in the spacious seat, I found it difficult to reach the seat in front of me, even with my long legs.
Anyway, business class sure is nice. I especially loved the storage box between my seat and the window. It was like my own private cupboard. And, of course, the service, the food, the high-quality blanket, the personal video, etc. Oh, and the best part? The captain walked through the cabin shaking hands with us all. The funny thing is, this is what flying economy was like 30 years ago.
The flight attendant passed around toothbrushes, night masks and ear plugs. So nice. And, of course, we were given linens for lunch, which was served on china, with actual glasses and metal utensils.
I noticed that the guy in front of me is watching pirated DVD of "Blart." Not only does it look idiotic as a film, because it's pirated, the video is completely out of focus and lacking any chroma.
My second leg, from Tokyo to D.C., we flew a 777. I was back in economy, but in an exit-row seat. Awesome. I noticed that there's a little door leading to the underbelly of the plane. It turns out it's a little hideaway for crew.
The movie on that flight was Flash of Genius. Really good. Greg Kinear is underrated.
Note: It's never a good sign when, in the middle of the flight, the captain comes on and says, "Flight Attendants, please be seated." It's even worse when he says it not once, but twice.
Final thought: What is it with all of the face masks in Asia? Very strange.