New Year’s Day in Thailand

We’ve been on the move since Bangkok, touring the coast of Thailand all the way down to Penang, Malaysia. Internet has been pretty spotty at the places we’ve stayed. It’s easy enough to catch a WIFI network here and there for checking email, but not enough for a longer blog entry.

We’re spending New Year’s Day in Hua Hin, a beach city relatively close to Bangkok. This is a popular beach destination for those in Bangkok- the King of Thailand has a beach house here.

We watched New Year’s Eve celebrations from the 9th floor balcony of a condo that we’re staying at. Floating lanterns filled the sky flying out towards the ocean. A floating lantern is like an upside down paper bag with an oil candle at the bottom. The heat from the candle causes the lantern to rise like a hot air balloon.

The red streaks in this photo are the lanterns in the sky. Photos can’t really capture the beauty of the river of red dots moving through the sky.

Over the city fireworks lit the sky bringing in the New Year.

I shot the fireworks photos with my Canon T2i pressed onto the balcony with an exposure time of 8 seconds. I think they turned out pretty well!

Temples, temples, temples

If there’s one thing you’ll get used to seeing Thailand, it’s Buddhist temples. Thailand is over 90% Buddhist and temples can be found everywhere.

Besides the Grand Place, my first two days were primarily spent visiting some of the more notable temples.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is known for one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in Thailand. The statue runs the entire length of the temple and is covered with gold leaf.

The bottom of the feet of the Buddha is made of mother of pearl.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun “Temple of the Dawn”. We saw this temple as we were sailing down the river in Bangkok. it is an enormous temple with steps that you can climb almost to the top. The steps get progressively steeper as you go up. The steepness isn’t a problem on the way up but is kind of frightening as you try to descend.

One of the interesting things about this temple is that it is covered with recycled china and other bits of ceramic.

Grand Palace in Bangkok

The Grand Palace is the must see destination in Bangkok. It’s a little overwhelming when you first see it, a visual overload of colors and shapes.

Temples at the Grand Palace.

Gigantic statues guard the palace.

Closeup of a temple.

This is just a taste. Unfortunately with sporadic and slow Internet it’s hard to get pictures uploaded.

Airplane food

Besides getting there, the one other thing you have to look forward to on an airplane is being fed. The whole process of serving food and eating helps make the time pass more quickly

For dinner, I had the beef.

While not visually attractive, it actually tasted pretty good. It was an Asian style dish with a black bean sauce.

The three pieces of shrimp in the cocktail were also good. I wonder how much thought went into choosing three shrimp as the appropriate number for an airplane shrimp cocktail. Maybe that’s all the shrimp that one packet of cocktail sauce can cover.

I’ve never seen cocktail sauce packaged this way like ketchup. I wonder if this is made for airlines or if there is a need for cocktail sauce packets.

The rest of the tray was pretty mediocre.

Salad: lettuce and one tomato. I only ate it because that’s probably the only vegetable that I’m going to see on this flight.

Bread: dry and flavorless. Pretty much just a deliver vehicle for butter.

Dessert: a cross between the worst parts of a cookie and a brownie. Seems designed solely for the purpose of leaving crumbs everywhere.

It’s dark now, but I can’t sleep. Even Eat, Pray, Love isn’t putting me to sleep as I thought it would.

Breakfast is going to be a long night away if I can’t get to sleep.

Delayed by a snow bank

Our flight out of Minneapolis got of to a slow start because of snow. Not falling snow, but a pile of snow. Our plane was a little late leaving the gate because of several minor issues. The pilot said that we could make up for the delay in the air.

The plane taxied for a short distance and then came to a sudden halt. The pilot came in and told us that if we looked out the left window, the outermost engine was in danger of hitting a snow bank if went forward.

The snow removal crews had left a snow pile that was too high for the very large 747 engine to clear. We were the first 747 to fly out today so they didn’t know that there was a problem until now.

The captain said that a tug would be sent out shortly to push us to a wider taxiway.

Because we were on an active taxiway, we had to stay seated with our seat backs up and no electronic devices. I ended up falling asleep. One of those uncomfortable ones where your head keeps bouncing up and down waking you up. Every time I woke up I’d look out the window and see the engine and the snow bank and know that we hadn’t moved.

After a total of two hours of waiting a tug pulled up to the front of the plane and pushed us to the larger taxiway. That’s two hours to spend in cramped coach seats and being no closer to out destination.

After the tug released us, we were finally on out way. As the plane made our final turning the taxiway to the runway, the speed quickened and the engines let out a deep throaty roar. It’s been a few years since I’ve been on a 747. I’ve gotten used to flying smaller regional jets that the airlines seem so fond of. And their engines produce more of a whine than anything else. I’ve forgotten the sheer guttural sound of the 747 as we powered into the sky. I’m near the very back of the plane so every little vibration seems exaggerated. Over the years I’ve been progressively less comfortable with turbulence and I’m not really sure why.

Our flight is taking us over Canada, Alaska, and then Russia before entering Japan. The captain mentioned that we’d be spending about two hours in Russian airspace. I guess the captain thought we’d be interested in the fact that we’d be flying in an airspace that once would get you shot down.

Unfortunately with the delay, we’re now due in around 6:12 pm Japan time which is 5 minutes after our flight to Bangkok is supposed to leave. Delta has about 11 hours to figure out if we’re going to make our next flight or be spending a night in Tokyo.

Well, we made it to Tokyo and whether by plan or convenience our Bangkok flight was delayed 45 minutes. By the time we made it to the gate we could hear our names being called out for boarding.

As I’m writing we’re approaching Bangkok arriving at 11:45pm Sunday night. Temperature outside is expected to be a balmy 85 degrees.