This series starts with a very special thanks to Jenny, who among other things worked for these three weeks getting me ready for this next fun trip. Sewing mainly, but also attending to the endless details of ordering gear, arranging travel, and so forth.
And so it was that we found ourselves at the Phoenix airport saying tearful good-bye's, and promising that we would start all future trips in each others company. In retrospect, Jenny realized what she had missed on Vinson and Aconcagua, and had I learned enough to insure her a safe and enjoyable time.
But not this trip, so once through security I was alone. But at least Jenny had given me a sheet of detailed instructions for where to find my next airline connection, how long I had to get there, and so forth.
After an hour's flight to LA, I was on a 724 jumbo jet for a whopping 15 hours. I was headed for the Orient and expected to fly west, but the great circle route put us over the coast of northern California, and Mount McKinley of all places.
The flight itself was not too comfortable, owing to a strange post taking most of the foot room under the seat in front of me, and an inconsiderate man on ether side commandeering the arm rests. I solved the problem by simply going to sleep - and staying that way for most of those 15 hours, except once in a while getting up for some exercise, going to the restroom then drinking more water. So in the end I arrived in Hong Hong at least somewhat rested.
The morning was early, although I had lost a day crossing the Date Line. The airport was the nicest I had visited by far. It was modern, spacious, and very clean. Of all the amenities, the one that caught my eye were the showers. There were loads of duty-free shops, but it took me an hour to find one that sold bottled water. It was a small cafeteria, and there, out of the blue, someone came up to me and asked if I was Ray.
Todd introduced himself and said that when he learned that I had joined his group, he read everything on my website. He was a young and fit looking businessman from San Francisco, and pursued a variety of outdoor adventures such as mountain climbing and so forth, but mainly he was interested in extreme surfing in big waves around the world. I liked his general outlook and personality.
The 2.5 hour flight to Bangkok was on another crowded 757, but this time the passengers seemed much more friendly and considerate, and I had a very good seat from which I could gaze out the window at the landscape below.
Hong Kong had been chilly, but in contrast Bangkok was hot and humid. Once through customs, Todd and I changed a bit of money, then were inundated with taxi drivers. When people are that aggressive for your business, you know to beware. Yet once we were outside we seemed to have no choice but to deal with them. After all, there were taxis parked all around. Fortunately we knew that it should cost 300 baht ($8.50) for the 30-minute drive to our recommended hotel, but these guys were demanding 2 to 3 times that for an hours drive. No thanks.
At last someone pointed down. Ah, there was a lower level. Once down there we found the real taxis, and soon were on our way through the city.
The hotel was very simple but comfortable, and after so many hours of travel, I slept uninterrupted for the rest of the afternoon and through the night.