18 October 2010

One Night in Bangkok…

Its true I spent one night in Bangkok, yes the one in Thailand, but I get ahead of myself.

It all started in typical fashion by that I mean that planes and dates changed at least four times. Even when I got on the plane to leave I wasn't completely convinced that it had all settled out. At least I knew that I wasn't going to be alone, there were a few others on the same plane as me, so we could commiserate together. Finally the plane took off and I was heading across the Pacific to Osaka Japan. I know you're thinking wow you've been going to Japan a lot lately. It's true I have, but that was not our final destination, just a transfer point along the way. As a side note: Did you know that Osaka airport was built on a manmade island that is sinking into the harbor at a rate of about 1"/year. Not really relevant, just thought it was interesting. Also for those who don't know being the engineering nerd that I am, while most people are watching the in-flight movie I am watching the flight info channel, you know the one that tells you that you're flying at 39000', the outside air temp is -63 deg F and that you have a head wind of 221 mph. When I saw that we had a huge head wind I had to look out the window and see if we were still moving forward. Yes we were, just slower. So as a result we got into Osaka later than anticipated. Not that this was a problem because I had a 4-1/2 hour layover till the flight to Guam left. Bah! But at least the long leg of travel was done, just a short 3-1/2 flight left. All was going well until the Project Engineer rounded us all up for some late breaking news. It went something like this "You know how we were going to get a nice easy day in Guam before heading out to the Ship? Ya that's not going to happen, we are flying out the Ship tomorrow morning (which at this point was basically today)." Yeah! Who would want to sit around on a tropical island and have a leisurely day anyway.

So to put in all in perspective (all times are Pacific), I left my house at 9:00 am, my first flight left at 12:45 pm, arrived in Osaka 12:15 am left Osaka at 4:45 am, landed in Guam at 8:25 am and to the hotel at 9:15 am so 24 hours of travel and waiting time.

After a short nap of about 4 hours it was time to get up, get going and meet up with the other members of our group. Who really needs sleep anyway? So we all met up at the Sheraton to await transportation to Anderson Air Force Base (AFB). The base was about a half an hour north of town and getting all 26 of us to the right place and the same time would have been difficult so the project leader arranged vans to get us all there. As we were waiting for our van to show up an airman came with a truck so we loaded up our bags in the truck and sent them on ahead to get stored in the plane. After waiting for what seemed like forever our van arrived and we were on our way to AFB and then to the Ship. After a brief safety lecture and donning the appropriate gear it was on to the plane. A C-2 COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) flight is nothing if not completely different then your normal airline flight. There is no in-flight movie, beverage service, or even rest rooms, if you have to go too bad should have thought of than before you got onboard. There are also only 2 windows, which are about 6" in diameter and not very helpful unless you happen to be really lucky and get that seat ( I wasn't, just in case you were wondering). So strapped in with 24 of my new best friends, backwards, it was time to take off. Luckily it was only going to be about a 45 min flight out to the carrier. No worries I've done this before, flying is no problem. The flight was smooth until we had to start circling to wait our turn to land. Three times we went around, not nice smooth turns either, hard and sharp. Not having any sort of visual clues really messes with your equilibrium, not knowing which way was which, or that a turn was coming, just wham, turn. It wasn't too bad, kind of thrilling actually, until the last turn, where we turned and dropped all at the same time. I made it through, but a few of the others had to use the bags provided if you know what I mean. Then it was time to get on the deck, full speed to stopped in like 2 seconds. What a rush. I've now been catapulted and caught on a carrier. I have to say the launch is definitely more exciting, but both are totally awesome!

Now for the real work.... Blah blah.....confidential....national security and all the stuff.....boring! Needless to say that Aircraft Carriers are big steel rat mazes with no windows, very easy to get turned around and lost for sure. Being in the South Pacific it was hot. From the time I arrived in Guam to the time I got back to Seattle I was sweaty. Yuck. It was hot in the spaces I was working in as well. One thermometer said 105, with 90-100% humidity. I know some of you are thinking that's not really that bad its like that where I live all summer. True, but that was just the ambient air temperature, now add a large piece of equipment that is 400 deg and radiating heat that you have to be right next to. Luckily it was not all work, there was time to watch flight ops, once again I am my fathers son and love the sights, smells and sounds of airplanes. The ship also had a ‘steel beach party' while we were onboard. This is where they set up bbqs and basketball hoops and have a party on the flight deck. It was fun to take a break for a while and enjoy the cruise. After nine days onboard it was finally time to disembark.

We got off the ship in Laem Chabang Thailand. Then we had to make our way south to Pattaya Beach. It was there that we had arranged transportation to get us up to Bangkok. After a quick walk on the beach it was time to head north.

It is monsoon season in Thailand. The two hour ride was exciting, our driver didn't speak English and we didn't speak Thai. On top of that it was pouring rain for about half of the drive and people in believe that lane markers are more suggestions that rules. I'm glad I wasn't driving, but I'm also glad that I made it in one piece. The place we stayed was a super swanky 5-star hotel, didn;t really fit in there, especially after just getting of the ship. After a good meal and a few hours of sleep, my one night in Bangkok was over. The taxi from the hotel to the airport was a Mercedes. I could get used to that, I'm sure I could.. Then it was on the plane, a quick stop in Tokyo and then home. The flight home was cool, we left at 7:30 am and landed at 9:30 am, from half way around the world in only 2 hours, amazing! If only.

As far as I can figure, I've now been the farthest away from home in my family, 7439 miles, as the crow flies.


Jenny Moore said...

Wow Brent
What an adventure!!
So did you put the bit in about 105 and 100% humidity just for me?!!! :)
Can't wait to see you!!!

Jess said...

I loved reading about your adventures! awesome. sorry about having to work in HOT tiny spaces. I would not have liked that at all, but everything else sounds exciting.

Thanks for taking time to blog again.

Ash and Brent said...

I have to say, this is one trip that I'm not envious about!

Hey - they went there in Amazing Race.


Mom said...

Boy oh boy...that WAS a journey. Doesn't sound like the funnest "vacation" you have ever had either! But you saw (quickly) some interesting parts of the world and had some very intersting times! Thanks for the travelogue..it was very informative!!! And even when it is 105 degrees here, we still have a little bit of a breeze - WOW!

Julie said...

Great post Brent! Glad you wrote about your trip... I'm with Ashley though... not too jealous about this trip. Glad you survived!