Hello family and friends. Welcome to our first post of our 2017 trip to SE Asia.
How did this begin? I’ll tell you. (How does it end? Very Well, we hope!)
Back in February, Nancy and I were deciding where to go on our 2017 big trip. As with other years, New Zealand was our prime destination. Once again though we were aced out of that lovely spot due to no seats available using our Alaska Airlines miles. The Missus has never been and I was there as a 17 year old, hitchhiking around the islands with best mate, Aldo. Then my client who lives in Thailand wrote with a tax question and asked when I was coming back. (Brother Matt and I met him in Chang Mai a few years ago.)
At his question, the (energy saver) lightbulb over my head popped on and we decided to go to SE Asia. Alaska Airlines was quite happy to find us the route of Seattle-Vancouver-Tokyo-Bangkok.
We found a tour (though we are not tour peeps but we thought we would give it a go). It is 17 days of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand ending in Bangkok coincidentally (since that is the starting point of our return flying marathon).
As I start this entry, we are still two hours out of Tokyo on a very long but comfy Japan Air flight. (Nancy here, a few days later to interject that the final 2 hours were NOT fun or comfy but filled with turbulence…..UGH! Picture below is before turbulence!
For those of you in the Antipodes, a 10 hour flight is child’s play. Nancy and I have done longer hauls, but the day started with a 30 minute flight from Seattle to Vancouver then 4 hours that airport. In Tokyo we have two hours on the ground then six more to BKK. A looooong day indeed. Luckily I have recently started drinking coffee!
We land in Bangkok at 11pm and fly out at 2 pm the next day. Good thing we have three days in Hanoi before joining our group. We will need time to recover.
A word about Japan Airlines. By using our miles (& a lot of them) we are in quite comfy business class. The food is very good and terrific service. Why is it that airlines in the US have such trouble with this?
When I could not get the WiFi to work on my phone, two of the beautiful flight attendants worked diligently to no avail to help. I told them the only reason I wanted to get online was to check the score of the ALCS game7, so one of the ladies found a passenger who was able to connect. He checked the score and to my delight, the skankees lost. So Houston is going to the World Series against the stink in’ dudgers.
<<Time to do the 1st revision of the above commentary. Shortly after I mentioned two hours outta Tokyo, we ran into a Taifün (typhoon). It was well to the south of us but it affected air travel. Here is the end of our flight path>>
The third leg to Bangkok was longish too. At Tokyo airport Nancy saw there was a flight leaving at the same time for Hanoi. I did my darndest to get us onto it but no luck so BKK here we come.
Made it finally to Bangkok. Now onto Hanoi. A note to our Boeing fans – the Dreamliner is one cool plane and we are happy to report that it holds up VERY well when bounced around with SEVERE turbulence AND A TYPHOON!!
Our short stay in Bangkok included a splash in the hotel rooftop pool and a walk around the neighborhood
Off to the airport (again) where I quickly learned of my rookie mistake. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was a 1st time trip planner but it is more like a 201st time. A few months ago I booked our flight to Hanoi and the airline subsequently cancelled the route. No worries, I found a different airline and booked the trip. (A note to travelers – use a travel agent!) Well, wouldn’t you know it but I kept the old print out, forgot about the new one and we arrived at the check in counter 10 minutes before our new flight! Too late to board? Vâng! (That’s YES in Vietnamese)
We had to buy a couple day of flight tix, sit around the very noisy and HOT terminal (who builds a glass roofed and walled terminal in the tropics then forgets to put in a/c?) for 5 hours. The plus side is we had some nice PadThai noodles.
Then after landing in Hanoi and hoofing the 1/4 mile to passport control (according to Fitbit) I discovered I left my phone (the one in my hand now so you know there is a satisfactory ending) on the plane. Rookie mistake #2 – let’s hope the last! ( travel agent is no help here though. Checking the seat pocket thoroughly is though.) Ran back a quarter mile to the plane but it had already been moved!
Onto Lost and Found and after an hour or so, viola. I have nothing but good things to say about the staff of Vietnam Airlines (and Saint Anthony!)
ONWARD! We survived a wild taxi ride and made it to our hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, had dinner on the street, (which was interrupted by the sudden whisking away of our food, table and chairs as they thought the police were patrolling), the return of said items when it turned into a false alarm and then to a well deserved sleep.
I am ending chapter môt (number one in Vietnamese) as I watch the city awake. It is 6am on Tuesday (I think) and here is the view an hour ago from our little veranda. It is getting more bustling and the roosters are crowing like they know who will be on the dinner table tonight!
A note on the photos. So far we have only been using our iPhones. The Nikons get unlumbered today.
Until next time. And, GO ASTROS!
Chris and Nancy – the peripatetic peoples.