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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

PEARL'S ASHES: Chapter 10 Bangkok

My Spring 2011 visit to Bangkok to drop Pearl's ashes was one of my most memorable trips.  This was early enough, so one could make adjustments to your plane schedule.  Well, a relative short Circle Pacific itinerary became an odyssey, for it all began on  March 1, and I did not return to Honolulu until April 10.  I will explain why after the ash deposit in Bangkok.  Chapter 11 in Japan could well in time become another book in itself.

I left Honolulu for Narita, boarding at 11:10AM (Bangkok time, 4:11AM).  To quote:

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.

I was first served a glass of 1998 Henriot Brut Millesimal Champagne in United first class.  I ordered a Japanese set.
Narita has a United First Class Lounge, an oasis compared to the Red Carpet Club.  The flight to Bangkok was even better, and by the time I walked off the plane, I had had 16 different kinds of alcoholic drinks.  Mind you, I did not finish every serving.

The Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit has become my favorite hotel in Bangkok.  Both metro systems have adjacent stations.  Italian Rossini's is a tradition for me, and this time there was a Frank Sinatra show next door.  As there was a bottle of Jack Daniels on the set, that is what I had on rocks watching the performance.

About PA#15:

One of Pearl's very favorite spots on Earth is the Grand Palace in Bangkok.  All the kings of Thailand lived here, except for the current ones and Chulalongkorn.  Just to get your history correct, King Chulalongkorn is the son of King Mongkut, who was the depicted king in the King and I.

To the left is the 500+ year old Emerald Buddha, a photo that took guts to take, for it was expressly forbidden to use your camera in this room.  I didn't think it was such a big deal because that 26" high "emerald" is in color only and either green jade or maybe jasper.

Something I've always wanted to do, I then took the Asiatic version of the legendary Oriental Express from Bangkok to Singapore.  This was an expensive ($3480) train ride of four days.  The meals were part of the cost, but you had to pay for the drinks.  I mostly had Thai wines.

There was a stop at the River Kwai and the constant thought of Muslim terrorists.  This was a narrow-gauge rail system, so each start and stop was like being in a 5 magnitude earthquake.  Walking was a challenge.  And speaking of temblors, a 7.2 earthquake jolted Japan on the west side of Honshu.  We couldn't feel this on the train, but this is a clue to the worst to come, Chapter 11.

In Singapore I stayed at the Marina Bay Sands, an $8 billion complex of 2681 rooms, shopping mall and casino.  It's getting worse, for there was a 7.3 earthquake on 9March2011, shaking Tokyo.

Flying back to Bangkok on March 11 I learned that a monstrous 8.9 earthquake had struck Japan.  My concierge made frantic calls whether Narita was open, or if there even was electricity in Tokyo.  With high uncertainty, first thing the morning of March 12, I caught my flight to Japan.   This was the pleasant calm before the dreadful storm:

Five wonderful hours on Thai Air First Class...followed by chaos at Narita...where it took five hours for me to get to my hotel in Tokyo.  But, somehow I made it, while 14,000 others got stranded at the airport.  Chapter 11 will be a doozie next Wednesday.

Tropical Cyclone Enawo slammed into Madagascar at 145 MPH:


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