After three trips to the United Kingdom and four trips to continental Europe I figured it was time to see the some of Asia. I decided to travel to Bangkok, Thailand because my old friend Superfly lives there and he has been pestering me to come and visit for a couple of years now. I booked my flight on Delta (DL), which is my airline of choice these days. My flight was to depart Detroit (DTW
) on June 25th at 12:45pm, which was nice because I could sleep in a bit before heading to DTW
for the long flight to Bangkok (BKK
). I dropped my baggage curbside and headed into the terminal where the typical line at TSA
For some reason a few of the pictures are having a technical difficulty, so I posted the missing photos in a reply below.
Once through TSA
I grabbed a sandwich and water and headed to my gate, which was loaded with folks headed to South Korea. The first leg of the trip was on a Delta 777-200 to Seoul-Incheon (ICN
) and it was a full flight. DTW
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The service was typical Delta, while not world class, is good enough for me. Now I am one of those travelers who actually pays for his own tickets so I fly in coach (Y) and have to endure the crummy leg room and seat pitch.
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The food wasn’t too bad they served Korean and Western dishes and I had the western food, which was chicken. I should have had the Korean dinner, it looked much better.
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I checked out the IFE (In Flight Entertainment) and watched some movies. I forgot my fancy noise canceling headphones at home, so I was stuck with the crummy free ones DL
provides and they hurt my ears after a while.
I watched a few movies and I watched some great Chinese films Back to 1942 and Silent War and enjoyed them both. After watching some serious drama for a few hours it was time to switch gears to something lighter so I watched an Indian movie called “Rowdy Rathore”.
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This may have been the dumbest movie I ever saw, but I loved it (I already bought the DVD while in Thailand). The writers morphed the plot of an A-Team or Incredible Hulk episode with the character of Shaft, Superman, Officer Poncherello (from the TV
show CHiPs), and that guy from Kung Fu; into one badass Indian policeman who takes on bad guys by the dozen.
We were served a snack during the flight, which was a ham sandwich; I liked it.
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I watched some more movies and then it was time for breakfast. We landed at ICN
right on time and taxied up to the gate without delay.
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Transferring to my next flight, Korean Air #KE651, was a breeze and I soon found myself wondering around ICN
checking the place out.
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I stopped for some ice cream, which really hit the spot
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While waiting for my flight I took some photos of some the Korean Air (KE) planes moving around the ramp.
There were plenty of people waiting around my gate so I figured my 777-300 would be full. We began boarding right on time and the process was very orderly.
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This was my first trip to Asia and my first trip on KE
. I was very happy with the service in Y and would recommend it to anyone. The legroom was better on the KE
777 than on the DL
Dinner was served and it was fantastic, for Y airline service.
I then settled in for another movie, this time the American classic, from 1958, “The Big Country”.
When I went to the toilet I was surprised to see toothbrushes and toothpaste, especially in Y. I took them up on their offer of free teeth brushing.
Just under six hours later it was time for landing in BKK
and we got to the gate right on time. Everything was smooth until I hit passport control. It looked like everyone wanted to visit Thailand and the lines were very long. It took me bit over an hour to clear customs.
Superfly met me at the airport and we grabbed a taxi downtown.
I originally planned to stay with Superfly, but water pipe leakage and the resulting remodeling put us in the need for a hotel room, so we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Sukhumvit 15. The hotel was very nice and had all the amenities.
The fly and I were hungry so we went over to Sunrise Tacos and had a few, plus a couple of beers. We then stopped and bought some beers to take back to the hotel room.
After a long flight and plenty of Chang Classic I was tired and slept most if the next day, I did get up for breakfast, then went back to bed for seven more hours.
That night we met up with one of Superfly’s friends (and now a friend of mine), John at a bar & restaurant called Bourbon Street. John is originally from St. Louis and drove a truck for Falstaff, so he and I had plenty to talk about. John has been in Bangkok since 1982 and is an electrical engineer.
After plenty of great food and beer we headed over to Soi Cowboy. I have been to Amsterdam and that is boring compared to this place. Soi Cowboy is not for the light hearted, but if you enjoy debauchery at its finest this is where you want to be.
We were out until the bars started shutting off their lights and the street vendors started packing up their wares, so it must have been getting late (or early, depending on your perspective). Once again I got up to eat breakfast and then went back to bed. The hotel had a top notch breakfast buffet and I didn’t miss one day of it. Since I woke up late again I figured it was a good time check out the Terminal 21 mall just up the street and look around for some neat gifts and buy some postcards. The Terminal 21 is a neat mall, with stores and restaurants of all kinds.
There is also a nice grocery store inside.
Of course the streets near the mall were filled with people selling all kinds of neat stuff too.
That night I enjoyed the rooftop pool and bar at the hotel
I am a sucker for boat rides and Superfly and I went and checked out the city. The first boat we took was the water taxi.
The water taxi is kind of like a bus, but a boat. It is old, rundown and noisy; I loved it. The passed by all kind of shady looking neighborhoods, but spending so much time in Detroit has made me numb to shadiness.
We transferred to another boat and got off and grabbed a Tuk Tuk. A Tuk Tuk is a small truck/motorcycle thing and they are a blast to ride in. I would buy one if they sold them in the USA, as long as it was cheap.
We went to a part of town frequented by hippies and saw plenty of them; it wasn’t my favorite part of town I must say.
We stopped at a riverfront restaurant, that had no hippies in it, and had some lunch before getting a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River.
The fly and I bought a private “high speed” boat ride, but is turned out to be sort of pitiful. The boat at a Isuzu 3 liter turbo diesel mounted like an outboard and it was loud and cool. The engine had a dead miss at high speed and was running terrible. We stopped for two quarts of oil at a pitiful dockside diesel station.
The place was very sad (I loved it) it had a transmission lying next to one of the pump and the attendant was drinking beer and watching TV
There was plenty of boat traffic in the river, commercial and recreational, and a lot of really cool sites to see.
Along the river there were buildings of every kind; from shanties to beautiful skyscrapers.
We got off the boat at a BTS
station and took the train back to the hotel. The heat took a lot out of us and we went back to the hotel and slept for a while. It was a quite night for me and I went to bed early, so I could rise at a decent hour the next day. The next day Superfly and I headed out to see Don Mueang airport (DMK
was once BKK
, but in 2006 the new airport opened leaving DMK
operating at less than 25% capacity. In 2005 DMK
) was the 18th busiest airport in the world. Today DMK
sees operations from the Thai Air Force and a few low cost carriers. DMK
is kind of like the STL
out Asia, with its vast numbers of unused gates. One of the cool things about DMK
is that there are many stored and derelict aircraft there. Thailand has a terrible climate for long term storage of planes, so must of the planes here will not be flying again. We talked our way into an empty parking garage and were able to get some great photos.
After checking out the ramp we decided to head on over to the Air Force base and poke around there. We saw some cool old junk, like this Caravelle and Shorts.
There is a golf course between the runways at DMK
, the Royal Thai Air Force Golf Club, and it is usually restricted. However we happened upon a golf tournament and told the guards we were going to play golf, they let us right in.
We stopped at the turn (front to back nine) and had some snacks and watched planes take off. We saw some cool stuff; a turbo prop DC-3 and an Air New Zealand 767. There were also unrestricted views of the ramp. We drove around a bit more and found the main clubhouse and parking lot. The clubhouse parking lot afforded us some great views of the ramp and runway.
One of the coolest things about the course, and the road to it, is that it is cut in half by a taxiway. To make sure golfers and cars don’t wonder into the path of a plane they have a railroad crossing like gate.
After a day of plane watching we worked up a hefty appetite so we headed to a local restaurant and had a big dinner. Superfly did most of the ordering and we were the only two westerners in the place. The restaurant was a family style place and it was filled with families eating Sunday night dinner out. www.nittayakaiyang.com.
My favorite part of the meal was this delicious Snakehead fish. I also had squid, which is one food I never can have too much of.
For the next couple of days I wondered around town while Superfly went to work. I didn’t have a shortage of neat things to see and interesting people to meet. One of the many great things about Bangkok is the huge number of places to have custom tailors clothes made. If I lived in this town I wouldn’t buy off the rack ever again. I stopped a local place called St. Marco’s, which was recommended by the fly, and had a dandy suit made. It is the best fitting suit I ever had and was the price of an off the rack super discount suit back home.
I made sure I went to a Kentucky Fried Chicken while I was in Thailand. I liked how it was kind of fancy, with plates and actual glass for the Pepsi. I found the original recipe as great as always, but was disappointed to see no buttermilk biscuits.
I really enjoyed seeing all the street vendors in Bangkok, many of which made very creative use of mopeds and bicycles.
Superfly kept talking about a restaurant called Rossano’s and how great it was so we headed over there for dinner. It was a great restaurant. We had a couple of pizzas and then sucked down beers until closing time.
The next day I wondered around town for a while and then Superfly and I headed over to another “entertainment district”, where we met John for beers.
We drank plenty of beer and had a lot of laughs.
My flight on July 4th, departed at 5:50am so I wanted to go to a hotel near BKK
so I wouldn’t have to get up as early. I can’t sleep on a plane so staying up all night is never an option for me. The Fly and I rode the express train to BKK
. The station was eerily empty with bright new everything not being used. There airline check in counters and baggage drops were all empty.
My mug slaketh over on Falstaff N503