Getting To Australia

London to Bangkok

We had 9 hours between our flight to London and the next one to Bangkok. Originally, our plan was going to include taking a high speed train to Paddington Station and then walking around the sights for a little bit while we had the chance. However, due to April being sick, we decided to spend the day at the airport instead . Not that it was a bad thing since we both love airplanes and all the things associated with them, so this was sort of a treat as well. April: Holy cows I felt so sick. I wish we had gone into London, but I was so tired and worn out that it would have been a bad idea.

To make things better, we stopped by the Concorde lounge in Terminal 4 and dropped off our carry on baggage at the concierge. Our next step was to go downstairs to the Molton Brown Spa and look into taking showers. We were able to get a shower room immediately, and when they say room, they mean it - not some little cubicle packed in with others, but an actual room with tile flooring, vanity, toilet and enclosed shower system. The room was probably 10' x 7' - huge for a bathroom. April: Ohhhh....a shower. Now this was a beautiful thing. The shower was warm and the enclosed shower area was steamy. I was having trouble keeping my nose and lungs hydrated, so it felt really good to inhale all the steam.

The neat thing about the shower system was that it had water jets on the side, a shower head directly above center going straight down, a shower wand and a steam bath feature. Apparently these are all the rage across Europe - something my mom and uncle are looking to bring to North America. Now that I've used one, maybe I will order one from the family!

After taking a refreshing shower, we headed back up to the Concorde lounge where we stayed for most of the day. The lounge actually wasn't as impressive as I would have hoped, but I think it was due more to the surly staff encounters I had during the day than to the atmosphere itself. There was a constant supply of food and beverages - but you had to actually go in search of them and corner a staff worker to get you some things. The lounge also offers a wireless network hotspot so that you can use your laptop and connect to the internet. After checking email and chatting with Mike Seixeiro for a bit, we headed upstairs to another lounge that had a sanctuary room - basically a room where people are supposed to be able to get some sleep for a few hours. April was able to get some much needed shut eye during that time, and Steve was able to work on updating the website - although, he probably should have slept as it caught up with him later in the day. April: I have to disagree with Steve about the surly staff, but then again I usually made him go off in search of food. :-) The Sanctuary Room was nice, but there were a few other people in there who kept chatting loudly when they weren't sleeping!

Next we headed out into the main terminal area in search of cough medication amongst the large array of shops. The English have a weird way of describing what a medication is for rather than what it will do scientifically. For example, back home we would look for cough suppressant or expectorant. Here, we found Chesty Cough or Tickley Cough options. All very weird to me. April: Hee hee. I love the medication descriptions. We bought "Chesty Cough" in an herbal format. There were some pretty neat shops in this area, but we didn't do very much shopping.

Back to the lounge where I got online again - this time to check out the webcams we have set up to look at our living room and fish tank. Logging onto the living room camera, we saw our friend Tania in the house coming over to feed the kitties. That was pretty cool to see as we're always worried about how our cats will handle us not being home. It was nice to see Jefferson have a lil drinky, Walker beg for skritches and Emily being the sweet (but tough) girl that she is. While doing this, I also started chatting on instant messenger with someone from work, actually someone we work with that works in North Carolina. There I was in London, watching my house in Seattle and chatting with a friend thousands of miles away. Who would have thought that would be possible even just 10 years ago? Technology is great isn't it?

At 8pm, we both went back to the Spa for our complementary back massages. April actually couldn't get one, but Steve went in for the full back treatment. It was 20 minutes of twisting out stress knots that had been building up for a couple of weeks. After being done with the massage, I felt much better and more relaxed - that changed the next morning though.

Finally, the time came to board our plane to Bangkok. When we got to the gate, the lineup was huge and was moving slower than a turtle on valium. April decided to walk all the way to the front, and behold there was a very short line for First Class passengers. An interesting thing about boarding this plane, the boarding ramp wasn't functional, so we had to walk downstairs to the tarmac and walk across it to a loading ladder to get on the plane. That was way cool - seeing the size of this plane from that perspective! April: That was pretty neat. Only problem was hauling our four carry-on bags up the stairs. I managed to bonk my head on Steve's camera backpack on the way up. Ouch!

Again, as before we took a sharp left to the First Class section, where we immediately settled in - we're old pros at this now :-) April is seated in 3K and Steve is in 3A - opposite sides of the plane this time. Take off was smooth as silk again - although the pilot griped about air traffic control holding us up a couple of times. Before the plane even rolled away from the gate, we were both in our new set of PJs and comfy.

First class was full tonight, and given that we were leaving in the late evening, we were quickly provided with our dinner menus. April decided not to partake in dinner this time, and tried to get some sleep instead. On the dinner menu this time around:

Starters

Chicken satay with almond sauce

Goat cheese and butternut squash terrine with red onion marmalade

Spiced prawn soup with straw mushrooms

Fresh salad leaves with choice of dressing


Main

Pork in black bean sauce with stir-fried noodles and bok choy

Lobster fish cakes with shellfish sauce, spinach and vegetables

Grilled fillet of beef, bearnaise sauce, Anna potatoes, turned carrots and asparagus

Salad of lemon pepper breast of chicken with basil dressing


Snacks

Grilled fillet steak sandwich with red onion marmalade (darn it, I meant to try this)

Spiced prawn soup with straw mushrooms and a side salad

Fresh pasta with cherry tomato/basil sauce or spinach and Parmesan cheese sauce

Duchy of Cornwall biscuits

A selection of cheese and fruit


Dessert and Cheese

Cheesecake with strawberry coulis

Ice cream profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce

Cheese plate

A basket of fresh fruit

Espresso, cappuccino, coffee or tea

It was, as expected, all very yummy. The one thing that made dinner tough was that we hit a lot of turbulence while we were eating. It was really difficult to keep my wine from spilling all over the place. I don't know what the turbulence felt like in regular class, but right up front it was certainly intense for a while.

April: I slept through much of the turbulence, but a couple of times checked the map on my IFE unit to see where we were. The bad turbulence seemed to be over Austria. A funny thing happened during the turbulence - someone came over the PA system and said "HELLO!" and nothing else. It was funny.

After dinner, Steve decided to watch a movie and then went to sleep. This time, I learned from my previous experience and started off by sleeping on my back. I had to switch to my side at one point because the person sitting in the aisle had their light on. Luckily, at a certain time in the flight when everyone was dozing off, the flight crew turned off his light. Ah - sweet!

Amazingly, I was able to actually sleep for a couple of prolonged periods throughout the night. Maybe it was because April wasn't sitting behind me kicking my cabin partition, or maybe I was just extremely tired. After waking up some time in the morning and realizing that the sun was coming up, I decided to give the eye shades a try. Don't knock it till you try it - it actually helped a lot, even if I looked really silly wearing them!

April: After getting some sleep I woke up and walked around a bit. I spent probably an hour chatting with one of the flight attendants. That was really nice. I wandered back through some of the other sections of the plane, too. As I got further and further back and the seats became smaller and smaller, more people were awake. Everyone was asleep in First, most people in Club World were asleep, but by the time I got to World Traveler most people were awake and watching movies. I felt kinda silly walking through that area in my PJs labelled "FIRST" so I soon turned around and headed back to the nose.

So, the problem with the massage I received is that she worked my muscles so much that in the morning they were pretty much frozen in place, and more tense than the night before. It may have something to do with dehydration from all the traveling, but I think she may have overdone the workout on my aching muscles. I'm glad now that I didn't leave a tip - something I didn't know if I should do in any case, but now I feel vindicated in not doing so.

Next came breakfast. On the menu this morning:

Breakfast

Cleansing mocktail

Chilled fruit juice - (this was a blood red orange juice - very tasty!)

A fruit smoothie

A selection of fruit, plain yoghurts and cereals

Warm breads and breakfast pastries

Scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, pork sausage, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomato (Steve just had eggs and toast)

Egg white frittata with vegetables

Waffles with orange compote


Again, after breakfast, we change out of our PJ's and get ready for landing in Bangkok. As we flew over the coastline, I could see what I believed to be damage from the recent tsunami. It certainly looked like there used to be stuff in the area - you could see some foundations and such, and now there was nothing but sand and silt. If what I saw was actually due to the tsunami, it certainly showed the power and devastation that could occur. April: I was surprised at how much of Thailand seems to be farms. There were lots of rice paddies (I think that's what they were). Another thing we noticed was lots of areas burning. We wondered if this was the slash-and-burn agriculture you read about, that causes so much smoke in the atmosphere in SE Asia.

Finally we landed at the airport - welcome to Bangkok, oriental city (if you're old enough you'll know the rest :-). 35 degrees centigrade outside! It was very interesting to see that there is a golf course in between a couple of the main runways. There were also a number of airline carriers that we just would never see anywhere else in the world - Gulf Air, Emirates Airlines, Thai, Singapore Air and an interesting little airline called Nok.



Coast of Thailand.

Coast of Thailand.


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