To Chiang Rai

We called our dog sitter, Bobbie, to check on Abby and then went down for our last breakfast at the hotel, where we both decided to have American style omelets and bacon.

After breakfast I bought silk and cashmere pashiminas for my daughters for 20 each and a truly lovely beaded one for myself for 40 american. I later learned that these were not from Thailand at all, but were marketed by middle eastern merchants to unsuspecting naive tourists like myself. They were still lovely, though.

We then finished packing and got the bags out and identified and went walking downtown a last time for some coffee overlooking the street while we waitied for our airport transfer.

The Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi) is huge but doesn’t have enough bathrooms, at least according to Ray. Check-in was uneventful and while we waited for our flight our co-traveler Terry, a nurse from Southern California, entertained us with her massage stories. They are probably a bit too risque for this blog, but suffice it to say that when having a massage in Thailand, it is important to be VERY specific about the kind of massage you want, even if you are a woman.

The flight was beautiful and Thai Airways is gorgeous, with great service, and interesting, un-named food. We even had window seats for the one hour flight. We arrived at the Chiang Rai airport and were whisked off to our hotel on the Kok River. It’s a truly lovely hotel with a view of the hills to the west and a light down comfortor in a cotton duvet on a very comfy bed.

As we arrived on our bus, there was a group of Thai girls from a private school visiting as well at the hotel and they were a delight to watch, giggling and sweet in their very proper uniforms. We are looking forward to new adventures in a new town after a good night’s rest.

Flying to Thailand

Flying to someplace as far as Thailand was a first for me, if not for Mo. I was so excited and it was hard to figure out just what to take. I had packed several times, but still spent the last day before our departure trying to figure out what I really needed. I am still not a very good international traveler I am afraid, I think my one checked bag was a pound or two under the limit. That is one of the nice things about not having to haul my luggage around all the time alone. We are traveling with Grand Circle Travel, the same company we went with last year to Malta. They do a great job of getting us around a country without a lot of hassles, but we still manage to stay somewhat independent and do our own thing as well.

We left Jamestown at 11:45 and drove to SF via 108, 120, 280 and in to San Bruno. Found our Super 8 hotel with ease, unloaded and checked in, then decided to go to Union Square. Parking was 2.50 for 20 minutes so we didn’t stay long, but still had Irish coffee at O’Doule’s and went to the 5 story Williams Sonoma store, my favorite! The lights in Macy’s were gorgeous! Huge wreaths in every window of the skyscraper. The main window had really magical displays that told the story of Beauty, Wisdom, Peace, etc, with magnificent puppets. It was a great way to enjoy the Christmas season a bit before traveling to a country where Christmas might not be such a big deal.

Early Monday morning we tried to sleep but of course I was too excited to sit still so we called the taxi a bit early. A very large, very friendly, and very talkative and smelly guy took us to the International Terminal in his beat up cab. Once there we sailed through all the check points in spite of the new regulations for security. Ate a great breakfast of foccacia bread and coffee while we waited for our flight.

We left San Francisco at 12 noon with seats in the center so we could have an aisle. It was nice getting in and out but I really missed the view, although most of it would be over the ocean and in the dark. We flew 12 hours to Tokyo, but it didn’t really seem as long as I thought it would. I knitted a lot, and sometimes tried to watch tv, but the most fun was the electronic solitaire game on the seat back tv’s that we played till our eyes bugged out. Finally arrived in Tokyo which was actually pretty boring, at least in the part of the airport where we were able to see. Not much there, but the security police looked very smart in red uniforms and white gloves. We had to go through security again and wait about an hour for a change of planes.

My eyes were burning horribly from the airplane air and all the solitaire, so I tried to find some eye drops. Tokyo is expensive, I am sure, but the airport is worse. Reading Japanese is not something that gives you any visual clues about what you are seeing whatsoever, so I finally found a tiny bottle of something that the clerk told me was eye drops and dropped about 1000 yen for it which turned out to be something like ten bucks! I think the cure was worse than the problem, though, I felt as though I was dropping acid into my eyes. Note to self: carry eye drops in those ziplock backs of liquids on the plane!

Funny thing. When we finally got on, it turned out to be the same plane. We were on United Airlines, and our plane was an AIRBUS 330 and really quite comfortable even in coach class. The flight to Bangkok was 8 more hours. Early on I thought I was going to be really uncomfortable, but it actually went fairly quickly, with the help of solitaire, of course. Arriving in Bangkok at 12:30 am and the Montien Hotel at 2 or something in the morning, a bit worse for wear, ready for some sleep and to thankfully close our eyes at last in a real bed.

Traveling to Malta

We are on our way at last. We left Klamath this morning just a little bit after 10AM, Thursday December 8. Klamath wasn’t too bad, but HWY 97 was a solid sheet of ice all the way north and it was snowy to Oakridge on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. Very slow going, for sure! We drove straight through and got to Dan’s (Mo’s brother) house around 4pm, visited a bit and then went to the Olive Garden for supper. Home to bed by 830, getting ready for the big travel day to come.

And big day it has most certainly been. It’s all running together at the moment, sun shining in this Air Malta Airbus while we wait for takeoff. We have been awake now for more than 24 hours. It is noon here in London, center of the world, zero hours Greenwich Mean Time. Funny. I’m losing track of time it seems. Still waiting, the variety of humanity in this airport is amazing, all kinds of people. There is a whole plane load of family going to Ceylon, and another planeload of people who know each other going to Malta. It was an experience boarding this aircraft, lots of Muslim women with children. The Maltese language sounds melodic, somewhat Arabic, I think I will like learning this language

The flight from Portland to Chicago was fine, except for landing on the icy snowy runway, which just a little nerve racking. We made our connections to the big 777 to London, didn’t dawdle at all, only to sit on the plane for 2 hours before it would actually take off. Some story about fuel and maintenance. Don’t they get tired of repeating the same tired excuses? They gave us water and a really bad oat bar, but once we were airborne we did get free wine with our dinner. It was amazing to watch a long night pass in a few hours and we managed to get to London in time for our Malta flight in spite of the delay. Finally airborne, on the way to Malta. We just crossed the English Channel and will arrive in Malta at 4:30 this afternoon. I have completely lost track of exactly how many hours we have been traveling, what day it is here, what day it is at home, or anything else for that matter!