Saturday, March 22, 2014

En Route to Bangkok

There’s nothing like the day of a big trip.  I mean, it’s even better when it’s vacation, but I don’t even mind work trips.  Especially if they’re somewhere interesting.  And even better if it’s in business class.

Heading to SFO 
Getting carsick to SFO
I arranged a car to take me to the airport.  Sometimes it’s a hit-or-miss adventure with the drivers.  This time was for sure a miss.  He took a very random and roundabout way of getting on the highway, and then stomped on the brakes a bunch the entire drive to the airport.  I was pretty carsick by the time we got there.  You win some, you lose some.

Massive Luggage
Big Bertha Weighs In
Since I’m going for almost 2 weeks, I checked a bag.  For some reason, this bag weighed a whopping 55 lbs.  I’m not exactly sure why--I packed a pretty standard set of clothes and shoes.  Maybe an extra pair of shoes?  Some workout clothes?  But 55 lbs worth?  Whatever.  Dropped of my bag and decided to wander to the pre-check line at the domestic gates because there isn’t one in International.  It was absolutely worth the 5 minute walk to not wait in line, not take anything out of my bag, and, most importantly, not take my shoes off.  Getting Global Entry basically gives me pre-check on every flight, and it was absolutely worth it for $100 for 5 years.  It’s saved me a ton of time.

POG and cheese
I also like getting to the airport early and do some walking around the terminal.  I make a visit to duty free (and buy nada) and then get my legs moving.  Great people watching.  Since I had business class seats, I went to the United lounge for a few minutes and got a POG juice--Passion-Orange-Guava and some snacks.  That lounge is seriously always super crowded, so I tend to not stay long. 

The view from 13B
Boarding was uneventful.  I had made an extra effort to get a seat on the upper deck since I’m flying a 747.  It’s fun.  A little bouncier of a ride.  I found my seat in 13B and got settled.  It’s a backwards facing seat, so that feels weird on takeoff.  There’s a new amenity kit that is city-based and kind of a fun metal pencil-box type of kit.  Definitely a keeper. 

Japanese Selection
Since the first leg was to Japan, I tried my luck at getting the “Japanese Selection” meal--and won!  Wooo!  It’s a nice touch on UAL flights.  The meal was pretty good--certainly better than my other choices of a pork chop, chicken, or seafood stew (my second choice).  They usually are pretty limited in their Japanese meals, and it’s pretty popular, so I was actually surprised when the flight attendant brought my tray.  

The appetizers were good--small dishes.  I didn’t eat the carrots or the chicken bits.  The fish and soba were tasty, and the soup was ok--a little to strong of a seaweed flavor.  The rice was not good, but packaged in a fun wrapper.  Just enough food, not too rich, overall a good choice.  And then the dessert carts kept coming…cheese plate?  Yeah, ok.  Ice cream sundae?  Sure.  Yum.  And more green tea.  Maybe that’s why I stayed awake most of the flight?

I settled in and napped a little, but not my usual power sleep.  I ended up having more food--a hummus and pepper jack sandwich and chips--when we passed Alaska.  I’m getting back on the workouts tomorrow--even brought my exercise bands.

Tight Connection
Sadness.  No Green Tea.
We departed late, so I only have about 45 minutes or so to enjoy Narita.  That includes de-boarding, then getting through security again and mayyybe making it to my favorite ice cream vending machine.  Fingers crossed.  I suspect there are a bunch of people on this plane who are going to have to make the BKK connection, so I won’t be alone. 

Time for more food (more!!) and maybe doing some reading before landing. 

Narita to Bangkok
Thankfully, Narita is efficient--I was able to get off the plane, go through security, and get to my gate to see that (sadly!) no green tea ice cream was to be had.  Not sure why I enjoy the ice cream from the vending machine at the airport, but I do.

The flight to Bangkok was pretty uneventful.  The food wasn’t great (salmon in a weird carrot-y sauce) and I napped for most of it.  And then my biggest pet peeve on arrival--parking at a remote gate and having to bus to the main terminal…when there are plenty of jetways open!  What about bussing a 747 full of people makes sense?  At midnight.  Why?  It is seriously something I find incredibly annoying. 

On Arrival
Morning in Bangkok
Once in the terminal, it was a bit of a cluster to get through customs.  I had an “express pass” for an express lane that didn’t exist.  I tried to pick the best line, but I don’t seem to have luck with customs lines.  Once through, my bag was already there and I was on my way.  Bangkok is a bit of a sprawl, so it took a good 40 minutes to get to the hotel.

I checked into the hotel in a fog.  All I remember was friendly staff quickly whisking me up to my room, which was huge and has great views of the city.

The next morning was quiet--a chance to enjoy the breakfast buffet, get in a workout, and meet my colleagues and a client at the pool for some relaxation before meetings started in the afternoon to prep for our 2-day session.  I’ll be heads down until Tuesday night, where I hope to be able to do some exploring. 

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