Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wheels Up - Time to Go!

The countdown clock has hit zero and the grand adventure to Bali has begun. I am flying All Nippon Airways (ANA) to Tokyo and then on to Bangkok. When I went to Asia in 2000 I flew Singapore Airlines and had a wonderful flight. In 2006 I flew Korean Air and thoroughly enjoyed the flight. Also in 2006 I flew United Airlines and there is really no comparison between the US domestic carriers and the Asian carriers. I have been fortunate to have flown business class on each trip.

ANA is so far living up to expectations. One of the first and most lasting impressions on each Asian carrier is that the flight attendants truly appear to be glad that you are flying with them. That makes such a difference. As usual, I was asleep by wheels up and woke up about 45 minutes into the flight to find that there was a warm moist towel to wash my hands with and a cool glass of green tea to enjoy.

I opted for the Japanese lunch and it was fantastic. The meal consisted of several courses:

Zensai – Prawn roulade, baked golden brown squid, simmered whelk shell, smoked duck breast, and sweet corn terrine.
Kobachi – an assortment of simmered vegetables
Shusai – Sake-steamed cod with special sea urchin egg sauce
Sunomono – Snow crab and lightly vinegared mozuku seaweed, steamed rice, miso soup and assorted pickles
Desert – A wonderful parfait, mocha a la mode

The cold sake was also very smooth and added just the right touch to a fantastic meal.

This is the longest leg of the trip – 13 hours to Tokyo. I have watched two movies including “A Good Year” based on the book by Peter Mayle. Albert Finney stole the show in that movie.

It is almost 9PM in Chicago and we have a little over 3 hours before arrival in Tokyo, then a 5 hour layover, and finally, a 6 hour flight to Bangkok.

And yes, for everyone who reminded me, I am getting up every two hours and walking around for 5-10 minutes (when I am not sleeping, watching a movie, or eating).

The 6 hour flight to Bangkok found me very tired and I was not only asleep before wheels up, I didn’t wake up until two hours into the flight. Another meal on the plane and this time I opted for the international cuisine rather than the Japanese meal. Somehow, grilled eel after having been up for about 20 hours was not my first choice.

Bangkok is Bangkok. Hot and humid. I was lucky and it did not rain for the day and a half that I was there. I met up with some friends for dinner and then a little karaoke. I did NOT sing, it would have emptied the club and the uproar would have made CNN. I did do a little shopping and am ready for a 4AM wakeup for my flight to Bali on Thai Airways. Now the real part of the trip begins. It is a 4.5 hour flight to Denpasar, Bali and then a 45 minute ride to Ubud where we will be based for the two weeks. Unlike Bhutan where we were constantly on the move, we will only unpack one time in Bali.

I was afraid that this blog would be impossible to create while on the trip because the edit page comes up in the language of the local country where you are accessing it. I made the right guess and the language screen popped up and I got it to English. Shame on Google for not making that choice a little clearer.

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