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Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It took nearly 20 hours, from leaving home in Honolulu to arriving at the Sheraton Grande Sukhamvit Hotel in Bangkok.  However, getting there can be half the fun.  My philosophy when flying is, "if free, every drink not drunk is money wasted."  I'm not sure my body, and liver in particular, would agree, but it makes for an enjoyable flight.

The day begun in the Red Carpet Club with a Bloody Mary (1).  The Noon flight boarded at 11:10AM, and started with a Delapierre Champagne (2, 11.5%).  The plane took off at 12:15, and we were served a 1998 Henriot Brut Millesime Champagne (3, 12%), which, according to the write-up, was supposed to taste of cooked pears and toasted nuts.  Did not quite sense those  essences.  But note the year, 1998, for this bottle can be purchased for $75.

Then came a 2009 Groom Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (4, 12.8%) from Australia (pear, melon, citrus), which I had with a Kahlua corn vanilla bisque, a truly terrific soup.  The next course was a Malayan beef skewer with  curry sauce.  At this point the flight had traveled 500 miles, about an hour.

A 2007 Buena Vista Chardonnay (5, 13.5%), having a mango and pineapple aroma in a creamy toasty background, was poured with the salad, which was very fresh and artistic:

with seasonal greens, strawberries, daikon, mandarin oranges and a balsamic vinaigrette.  I had to show this dish because here we are, seven miles in the air and traveling at the muzzle velocity speed (500 miles/hour) of a pistol bullet, and the salad looked impossibly fresh.

I had a Kirin beer (6) and Geikkeikan daijingo sake (7, 13.5%) with the Waishoku Zen:  apppetizers of layered egg, salmon temari, burdock wrapped in glazed beef, shrimp with eggs, seared tuna with wasabi dressing and somen nooodles in simmered shiitake mushrooms.

The main course was a seared monkfish with nannan, simmered daikon, oyster mushrooms and sauteed vegetable.  Of course, steamed rice, Japanese pickled vegetables and green team.

This is what a monkfish really looks like:

We were now 1000 miles from Hawaii at 36,000 feet.  With the dessert, old fashioned hot fudge sundae and Maple blue artisan cheese, I had a 2008 Domaine des Senechaux Chateneauneuf Pape (8, 14.5%, only $28).  This French wine is generally overpriced, and is in the range of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre.  In tandem I had a 2005 Graham's late bottled Vintage Port (9, 19.5%, $20), a rich, opulent and max body wine that made the CP taste like water.  (The 9 means my ninth drink, 19.5% indicates that this is an alcohol enhanced wine and $20 is the cost per bottle.)

I then watched the best movie I've yet seen this year with a White Label scotch (10) on the rocks.  Can you imagine a 2010 film directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Matt Damon...and I never even heard of it?  It only received limited distribution.  Entitled The Hereafter, it is about a psychic who abandoned his gift (frankly, as chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity  indicates, I don't believe in these types of paranormal phenomena--but for this movie, it works, and, who knows, if 90% of Americans believe in an afterlife, and I don't, maybe I'm wrong), calling it a curse, but finds happiness at the end.  

The very first scene is about the effects of that 26December2004 tsunami at Khao Lack: 

with the special effects scarily effective.  The movie suggests that some traumatic brain trauma can induce this communicative capability.

After the film I had a Bailey's Cream (11, 17%) with coffee, and rested.

The second meal was a pork tonkatsu with curry sauce and udon noodles, which I had with another Kirin beer (12).  It was okay, but nothing close to the Nagasaki version, where it was invented.  I'm looking forward to this meal in a couple of weeks.  

My United First Class experiences the past couple of years have been dismal, at least compared with Lufthansa and Singapore Air.  However, this flight was superb with good service and exceptional food.  I took this photo of Vivian Chisato Tanaka, who told me she roomed with Joyce Harada Patrick during their PanAm days.  Joyce was in the same nursing class with Pearl at St. Francis, and was responsible for organizing the ceremony for "Pearl's Leaf."

The approach to Narita was eerie and beautiful:

I had an hour in the United First Class (one floor above the Red Carpet Club), and had a snack with a Yamazaki Single Malt (13) on rocks with maguro and hamachi sushi, edamame, soba noodles and cream of mushroom soup.

Then off to Bangkok, where they served a Delapierre Champagne (14).   My final meal of the day was an outstanding series beginning with sesame pork, vegetable sushi, Mesclun mix with shiso vinaigrette and an excellent Braised short ribs with BBQ plum sauce, macadamia nut potato pancakes, curry glazed mushrooms and a vegetable medley.  My final drinks to accompany all this was a 2006 Truchard Merlot (15, 14.2%, $20) from California and a third Kirin beer (16).

Kind of a waste, but I did not exactly consume every drop of each drink.  

Twenty hours, but three days--left on March 1 and arrived just after midnight on March 3, I made it from the Suvarnabhumi New Bangkok Airport to the Sheraton Grand Sukhamvit Hotel in twenty minutes.  It is reported that you can catch a cheaper meter taxi outside to take you into town for $10, as it is safe, but I would recommend going with the AOT limousine which you sign up for and pay in the terminal.  While the cost is $30, the service is good and car reasonably luxurious.  There is also a bus for $4.  Ignore the touts.

The Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit has become my favorite hotel in Bangkok.  I've stayed at the Oriental and Shangrila, but now that I'm a Platinum member with Starwood, I got upgraded into a suite (the largest hotel room I've had in all my years of traveling), will have free internet, evening cocktails, laundry and breakfast:

...and this is only part of the Japanese table.  You also have access to Western, Thai and Chinese breakfasts and stations for omelets and fruits.  The hotel is next to both Sky Train (less than $3 for an all day pass) and subway stations, and those street stalls line both sides of the Sukhamvit.  Across the street is the Westin.  

It is overcast today, as the view from my room shows:

Those Dow Jones Industrial Average and Oil details to the right will suffice on my Orient trip.


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