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Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:14 am

I got to the airport early. It was a Friday morning. My dad, who’s an inspector at Thai Airways’ Technical Department, drove me to the airport. My dad basically LIVES there at BKK (Don Muang). Since labor is scandalously cheap in Thailand, foreign carriers like to fly their equipments into Don Muang and sub-contract Thai Airways to repair them. So all of the mechanics at Thai Airways work overtime year-round. But no one complains because they’re extremely well compensated. One notable regular is Lufthansa. Dad had been complaining all morning long about Lufthansa inspectors. He said that they are really tough. He said that these German inspectors comb through every detail before they sign to accept that the airplane has been properly serviced by Thai Airways. He also said that Thai Airways is getting rid of their MD-11’s because, in the past, TG had to fly their MD-11’s to Brazil for C-checks. He said TG always sends some Thai inspectors along when they fly MD-11’s to Brazil. He said he had been offered to go there once but decided against it.

“Well, why didn’t you? You would have gotten all those extra per diem pays and get to womanize Brazilian chicks! And I could have flown down from Mexico to see you!” I asked.

“Nah, your grandma will have a heart attack if I bring home a Brazilian wife.” He revived and smiled.

Then we passed by a hangar on our way to the International Terminals. THERE IT WAS—the same Mexicana cargo container, with the logo and everything. It has been there for 3 years (at least that’s how long I’ve seen it…for all I know it could have been there 5 or 10 years). I’ve seen it there for three freakin’ years people! It just sits idle there! I don’t know what it does there, really. Mexicana doesn’t fly to Thailand? SOMEONE ON A.NET WORKS FOR MEXICANA? You e-mail me and I’ll draw a map to tell you exactly where this container is located in BKK. Go retrieve it back already. It’s so bad for Mexicana and Mexico to have that container sitting there collecting dust. We have a Mexican Embassy in Bangkok. Those embassy staff must have seen it but how come no one bothers? Sorry I have no picture of this because there was a car behind us, so my dad couldn’t stop. I bet that when I return to Thailand next year it will still be there.

We got to Terminal 2 at last. My dad zigzagged his car into a spot in front of the terminal. In his TG mechanic’s uniform, he helped me unload my bags. He said he didn’t want to pay for the parking so he’d better get going, which was a lie. He didn’t want to stay because, like most Thai people and most men, he DOESN’T DO FEELINGS. He approached, paused for a second, and gave a hesitant kiss on my cheek—perhaps out of guilt, perhaps out of complicity. I don’t blame him. I’d be just as comfortable if I had to say goodbye to a gay son who’s flying to some place called Mexico (he vaguely imagined it’s this place beneath the U.S. but he couldn’t exactly place it on a map or even try to guess what the place and its people look like). It was out of his scope so it was best to leave those things in the limbo of the unknown. You see? My dad was being a fish who didn’t want too much to do with a turtle because, though they see each other from time to time underwater, they remain two separate species who live in two different worlds.

Before he left, he opened the car window and reminded me that I could still fly on ID50% tickets with TG and partner airlines even though I just turned 24. It wouldn’t be as cheap as it used to be but I could still save a whole bunch, he said. (I thought I was too old to non-rev on TG under my father’s tenure). Apparently not. May be next time I’ll do JFK-BKK on TG just for the heck of it.

“Dad.” I called him. “I’m moving to Argentina.”

“Oh that’s Diego Maradona’s hometown, right? And Antonio Banderas’ too.” his face went blank, looking straight before turning toward me again: “Does Thai Airways fly there?”

“No?! Thai doesn’t fly to Argentina and Antonio Banderas is from Spain. The closest would be Auckland, I think. I’ll probably fly LAN to Auckland or Sydney, then non-rev on Thai to Bangkok. Sometimes this summer. I have to see.”

“Okie dokie. Just send me a fax when you need that ticket…Take care.”

He left me for good this time. I turned around and breathed in my last dose of Bangkok’s pollution, and entered Terminal 2. I walked toward China Airlines check-in counter but was told that that check-in row was for an earlier flight and that, for my flight, I would have to use the opposite check-in row, which was still closed at the moment. So I stood there for ten minutes, waiting for my rocket to come.

Then a flock of CI check-in chicks walked toward the check-in row and settled themselves down. They didn’t take long at all. As soon as my check-in agent sat her dedicated ass down, she called me right up with a smile—how friendly and efficient! That’s the way it ought to be everywhere.

I was so happy that I had my last chance to communicate in Thai with her. I was so proud of myself. Then I got ticked off. Because she gave me this GEEKISH, green sticker on which she wrote down “Los Angeles” and “CI 6”. She told me to stick it on my shirt so CI staff in Taipei could wake me up or guide me to the right gate. I was this close to having a b-tch fit. Who did I look like? An old Asian man with a safari hat, who falls asleep as soon as he sits down? A lost traveler who doesn’t speak English? Does China Airlines give this sticker to everyone who has to connect in Taipei? Or do they only give out these stickers to passengers whom they profile as “clueless”? I was pissed. What an insult on my savoir-faire and savoir-voyager.

Then I paid the 500-baht airport fee. That’s really messed up though. Thank you for visiting Thailand. Smooth-as-silk return to your country. Thanks for all the money you spent here in our splendid little kingdom. NOW BEND OVER!

Walking toward the gate and passed by a TG A340. Hey there you sexy THANG! Hope to see you again soon either in Auckland or New York.

Here’s the plane that just flew in from Amsterdam and will now fly me to Taipei.

My seat:

The food…some pork prepared the Asian style. It was so-so.

By the way, as it was Chinese New Year, they had all these Chinese characters painted with gold on red paper pasted everywhere in the airplane. I thought that was nice: ethnic charms at that height.

This was my first time with CI. What can I say about China Airlines except that it’s just correct? It would be unfair to say that the service was poor. I mean they did their job, although don’t expect anything above and beyond. One thing I found annoying was that THEY COULDN’T MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT. I know that in Asia—especially in the Chinese culture—eye contact is very rude and looking away is a sign of respect. But they should have been trained not to do that in front of people who speak English. May be my FA did that to me because I looked Asian. It’s so disagreeable when I said “Thank you” and the FA looked away while saying “My pleasure, sir.”

Arriving in Taipei. Look look, there’s an engine being transported I don’t know to where. Must be another China Airlines technical mishap. Hehehe. Scary thought.

HOLY MOLY! This is the HALLWAY TO HELL. So this is the newly built Terminal 2 at Chiang Kai Chek? More sterile than this no life form would exist. This is a morgue, people, not an airport. God, I hope the new Bangkok airport isn’t like this. I just couldn’t breathe here. I had to walk elsewhere!!!

Ouf! What a relief. There’s at least ONE oasis of greens in this sterile isle, a place where one could breathe in this brand new but lifeless terminal. I decided to wait for my connecting flight to LAX here.

I whiled away my hours by trying to finish To the Lighthouse and the next thing I knew it was time. So I braved through that hallway to hell again and arrived at my gate. And tada! Paradise found! Lookie look look! I get to fly on a 747 with the new Boeing Signature Interior. What a wonderful surprise! I had no idea! What a beautiful BEAST!  wideeyed 

Another surprise! The two China Airlines pilots were Hispanics. I eavesdropped on them and was able to find out that they were Mexican-Americans from LA. I was so happy. I remember reading a Mexican newspaper about Mexican pilots who work for Asian carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. I didn’t know I’d get to fly in one. I mean they were pochos (U.S.-born Mexicans) and all, but still. BUT THEN this white guy came over, with one extra gold bar on his sleeves. It turned out that those two pochos were first officers under the command of the Caucasian American captain. Man, that’s bull. It’s always the same story. The person on top of the pyramid is always white and middle-aged.

Boarding began with lots of chaos. I was in an ocean of Vietnamese people who had flown from Vietnam and were heading back to their second homes in LA. It wasn’t even funny. The thing is that so many Vietnamese words, by mere accident, are onomatopoeia in Thai. So it always tickles me when I hear Vietnamese people speaking. Imagine you speak English and you hear people speaking like this: “Buzz, chink, kaboom, bang, click, moo, quack, meow, hoot, ribit, oink!” You know what I mean? It’s not just because it’s a different language. Because when I hear Chinese or Japanese, I don’t mind listening. But when it’s Vietnamese I have to decline because it really tickles me. I always take ear plugs with me when I go eat Pho’, which I often do because I love Pho’. It’s cheap and nutritious. Pho’ is a perfect food pyramid that cost only 6 something dollars. But that’s another story.

Here’s the new Boeing Signature Interior:

A hammock for my cell phone and a mirror to excrete my blackheads. Life is good!

An inseat power supply for my laptop.

DROP AND SNAP everyone! Elle Woods (from the movie Legally Blond) must be working at Boeing. Look! She lobbied Boeing to add women-friendly footrests. No more back-bending to shave legs. Go Elle Woods and viva Delta Nu. The next thing we need is personal pouches to put our Chihuahuas!

Look! Boeing copied the live-camera concept from Airbus. COPYCAT! YES! Let the A-vs.-B battle start on this thread. YEAH, kicks and punches and everything. Get it all out.

First meal: 8/10

Second meal: 7/10

Arriving at LAX:

Overall, it was NOT a bad experience considering the cheap price I paid for this one-way BKK-TPE-LAX. China Airlines is not bad per se, as far as service is concerned. I can’t say anything about safety because I’m no expert on this. But it sucks for a carrier based in a region known for superior inflight service standards. However I will have to give China Airlines a 10/10 for entertainment once they get their new inflight entertainment fully functional. It was installed on this new airplane I flew on but it was not up to its optimal performance just yet. Because this new, intelligent system, when fully functional, could offer soooooooooo many movies and all the latest musical hits. Kudos for the live cameras, however. That was way cool.

It took me exactly two hours riding LA metro from LAX to Thai Town. I’d hate to live in LA man. LA is no place for people who believe in public transportation like me. You either own a car or rot in this city.

I just stayed in LA for one night. Just a quick stop to say hi to my friends, Latinplane being one of them. Latinplane and I had endless debates about aviation and each other’s personalities. We went out to eat Japanese curry in Little Tokyo. Then we went to this really “happy” bar outside LA. It was full of cholos but it was fun. But I was eager to complete my Round-the-World-in-7-Days trip so I hurried back to LAX the next day to return to GDL.

Here’s Latinplane, another pocho in Los Angeles.

Air Tahiti Nui:

Singapore Girl:


Mexicana to Guadalajara:

It was an afternoon flight. They served some plastic chicken (I think…I wasn’t really sure). It would be unfair to judge this flight as an international flight because it was relatively short. I was grateful enough that they served any food at all. Besides I was too tired to take picture and too eager to be home and cuddle with my dogs. I just kinda slept all the way through.

Oh yes one thing I noticed. As of 2006, both Aeromexico’s and Mexicana’s inflight magazines have gotten some serious budget cuts. They used to be one of the BEST inflight magazines out there, printed on heavy matte and everything. They used to be magazines that I wouldn’t at all mind paying 5 bucks to read. Their articles in Spanish and English were usually pretty good too. These days they’re so slim. I guess they cost too much and not enough people read them.

I’m moving so I threw out the Mexicana ones. But you can see here that the difference is clear at AM. Then and now.

So let me end my trip report here. My next report will be a collaged review of Mexico, all the trips I’ve made all over Mexico: Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, etc. This will be my homage—my last tribute—for my México lindo y querido.

See you all then.
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:47 am

Great report and pics - that Signature 747 sure looks good!
My soul is in the sky...
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:56 am

Excellant report and pics. Very much looking forward to next one!!
too bad most of us get too soon old and too late smart
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:23 am

Very nice report, again! So, you're really moving to Argentina, then? I guess you had even more fun on your trip to EZE than you let on.  Wink
May I ask how you are managing it? Immigration wise, I mean--are you going as a student, or how?
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is temporary; the evil it does is permanent" - Ghandi
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:55 am

"May I ask how you are managing it? Immigration wise, I mean--are you going as a student, or how?"

I enter as a tourist. I have the right to stay 90 days max. But then I will acquire an internship with an English newspaper in Buenos Aires or something even though I will only be in Buenos Aires for a prolonged vacation (6 months).

The reason for that is because in Argentina, there is a double-standard system. If you are a tourist and you don't have the resident card, you pay tourist prices, which is actually legal in Argentina. Cheap airfares quoted in Argentine pesos are ONLY available to native Argentineans AND foreigners who stay in Argentina with resident cards. Furthermore, when you have the resident card, you get full protection from the law when you rent an apartment.  stirthepot 

And, if opportunities permit, I will try to open an authentic Thai restaurant down there before I leave Argentina. Buenos Aires can certainly do with a REAL one.  stirthepot 
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:00 am

You are a busy boi I like your down to earth reports andhope it all goes well for you in Argentina.. Not sure they like us ( Brits) even now because of Falklands, However there would have been a chance to fly on one of the worlds best long haul planes (VC10) ......Hope you keep up the reports and thanks
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:02 am

Wow, I read your whole around-the-world report and I loved it. Fascinating travels, delicious pictures, and fantastic writing. When you write a book, be sure to send me an autographed copy  Wink

I am supposed to go to TPE in November and I am debating between SQ and CI still, but still leaning toward SQ.

But let us know when you open your "real" Thai restaurant in Buenos Aires...Thai is my favorite!!
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:15 pm

Thanks for making me part of your trip report Thaiboy.

Next time you're here I'll take to to Little Saigon in Orange County so you can get some good Pho'. Or, Perhaps you'd rather visit Little India? Indian and Pakistani food is delicious! But maybe, if you really wanna be adventurous, I can take you to this place in the middle of South Central, which has the best Burritos you'll EVER taste. Big grin

Dude, you're so funny and your trip reports just crack me up!

 Smile LatinPlane

P.S. I don't know if the Argentinians will find Thai food edible. Thai food is very yummy, but its very hot and spicy. I think its more sutable for Mexican taste buds! Perhaps, you should open one in Guadalajara, the Tapatios seriously need to learn what good ethnic food is about!
Pan Am - The World's Most Experienced Airline.
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:45 pm

Great down-to-earth report, fun to read  Smile keep up that good work..

Quoting ThaiboynMexico (Thread starter):
Does China Airlines give this sticker to everyone who has to connect in Taipei? Or do they only give out these stickers to passengers whom they profile as “clueless”? I was pissed. What an insult on my savoir-faire and savoir-voyager.

Don't take it personally. It seem to be a Chinese thing. I have experienced it both in HKG and PEK. Even on an AF flight  Smile
Last flight: SAW-CPH on H9 on 02/11/09 - Next Flights: 23/12/09 CPH-AAL on QI, 30/12/09 CPH-LHR on SK, 19/01/10 CPH-CDG-
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Thu Mar 02, 2006 3:42 am

Fantastic report ! You're an excellent travel writer, and this one is just as wonderful as your others.

The 744 with the 777 signature interior looks great. Did they have a laptop port at every seat?
Atheism is Myth Understood.
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:17 am

Did they have a laptop port at every seat?

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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:18 am

Great! You are a very good writer, maybe a book next time?  Wink Keep up the work dude! And I can feel the smell of Bangkok pollution.. Ah, I miss Bangkok for sure..
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:13 pm

Dude, as sterile as CKS looks, it's SO much better than the old terminal. That was just a hellhole! Sterile AND run-down and ugly. Much nicer now.
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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:14 pm

Quoting ThaiboynMexico (Thread starter):

DROP AND SNAP everyone!

Actually it is "Bend and Snap". haha i watched the movie. it is pretty good. hope u enjoyed ur stay in LA. i know it says i am from HK but i also have a home in the san diego area. california rocks.

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RE: Around The World In 7 Days (Finale)

Sun Mar 12, 2006 1:32 am

Great report & photo's, really enjoyed the reading.



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