August 15, 2013

THAILAND - Day 1: The [long] Journey

We left home at 4:45 AM and drove to the park & ride to catch the Van Galder bus to Chicago.  We arrived at Chicago O'Hare airport around 10:30 AM and met up with Deb Bachmann for a little breakfast at Wolfgang Puck's.  We parted ways soon after to catch our 1:00 PM flight.  (Deb flew on a different airline.)  As we checked the monitors again we discovered that our flight had now been postponed to 5:00 PM, which meant our connection in Tokyo was not going to happen.  That sucked, but really I was so excited for the trip that I let this problem go for the time being. 

Our flight to Tokyo was 13 hours.  We all had little monitors in front of us which made the time pass a little smoother.  The kids did great.  I slept quite a bit and tried to do some reading.  The food they served was excellent.  We had two meals and two snacks during the flight so we got off the plane feeling thirsty but satisfied. 

It was just after 7:00 PM when we arrived at the Tokyo Narita International airport.  Once we landed we were informed that there were no other flights leaving for Bangkok that evening but United had arranged a shuttle bus for us to go to Haneda airport to catch a flight from there that was leaving at 12:05 AM.  The panic started creeping in then because the shuttle was going to leave at 8:20 PM and we still had to get our bags and then go through customs even though we wouldn't be setting foot outside of an airport.  It was pretty much a blur, but we did make the shuttle, barely, and everything else went smoothly.  And finally we arrived in Bangkok around 6:00 AM.  Yeah!!

We found a taxi driver to take us to our hotel but he had a hard time finding the hotel and what should have taken 20 minutes took an hour.  I don't believe he spoke English (we had arranged the ride with someone else), so we ended up directing him by using Google Maps on my phone to locate the hotel.  While driving in circles we were shocked to see all of the crazy traffic and the construction workers standing directly on the roadside sweeping and doing their work.  I commented that if our U.S. construction workers were put in those conditions they'd probably have a heart attack--it was very scary to see, but apparently normal for them in Bangkok.  

Finally around 7:00 AM we arrived at the Ibis Riverside hotel.  It was a gorgeous hotel and we were so thankful to have arrived. 

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