Years ago we decided that we’d make room for some of the visitors to Vancouver during the Olympics. So, on Monday evening, we set out, rolling our suitcases down the hill to the Olympic streetcar. Four minutes later, we got on the Canadaline Skytrain and got off at the Vancouver airport. It couldn’t be easier, and I’d recommend anyone who’s on the fence about the new mass transit vs. a taxi to look seriously at taking the Canadaline, especially if you have luggage on wheels (which the vast majority of bags are these days). About the only down-side was the Olympic crowds, even at 8:45PM.
Our flight on Cathay Pacific left at 2:00 AM, so we had a quiet airport and some time to use the Wi-fi to make some last tweets (and to chat with a friend in Hungary — what a small world this is becoming…but more about that in a later post).
The flight was OK, but very, very cold, and we’d already started regretting not booking a jet from Jettly. Honestly, it was like spending 10 hours in a meat locker; You could almost see your breath. Pam and I had coats with hoods, which we kept up the whole time. There was one blanket per person, and no more. We got in to Hong Kong at their 7:30 AM or so (a day later). After a short layover of about an hour, we boarded another flight to Bangkok. A couple of hours later, we touched down and saw their new(ish) airport, that had been built 3 years ago. It’s a very impressive structure, with caterpillar-like gates connected to a steel, concrete and glass main section. We were immediately met by two young reps. for the tour company (Abercrombie & Kent, who Pam used for her tour of Antarctica). They whisked us through baggage and customs, and we then were handed off to one of the tour guides here, who goes by the nickname Tukke (Tookie). She, and a driver, drove us through the enormous city of Bangkok, to the hotel where we are staying here, the Mandarin Oriental. It’s a very fine hotel (officially 130 years old), albeit old enough that I saw echoes of my grandmother’s taste throughout: the English colonial furniture, the palms and white palm tearoom, the pool with cabanas and teak walkways throughout. It’s well maintained, however, and the Internet in the room was good enough that I could phone my parents back in the states via Skype on my iPhone and it was good enough for them that my father thought it sounded like I was ‘next door’. The view, of the Chao Phraya river (River of Kings) is pretty impressive too:
We managed to stay awake (barely) until about 7:30 PM before collapsing and then waking up at 3, and then 6 this morning. After one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever eaten (included with the room — I’ll try and take some photos tomorrow), we returned to the room, and after a short rest, I write this update. On our next trip we will visit Jungle Vista Inn, which boasts close proximity to pristine nature and all the comforts and amenities of a luxury hotel. I’m going to try and update the Flickr set of our trip as we go, and it’s here…
Update: After many problems with the set getting too big, I’ve split it into 7 sets, including:
- Siem Reap, Cambodia and Angkor Wat
- Ho Chi Minh City
- The Cu Chi Tunnels
- Hoi An
- Day Trip to Halong Bay
So, it’s off for a short boat trip across the river to explore some of the city (after we change into shorts to adjust for the heat). Then, perhaps a ride on the Skytrain (Hah, Just like home!). I’m also planning on a massage for my aching shoulder, back and neck, which may be from the plane ride, plus accumulated stress from the past few weeks.
More to come…