Saturday 9 July 2016.
Highlights: The stream-less travel experience flying QANTAS from Melbourne to Bangkok via Sydney.
The joy of travelling can also have its downsides, like getting up at 4.10 am to catch your first flight of the day. I am luckily that my mother lives so close to the airport and is willing to get up so early and driving me.
This also allowed for a family farewell dinner before leaving the country. You never know what tomorrow holds so I appreciate any chance to catchup and attempt to be a good brother, uncle and son. Sometimes I think I travel to remember all that I have in my life, leaving focuses you and the longer you are away the more you miss the voices and stories of those in your life.
The short drive to Tullamarine (Melbourne) Airport went off without a hitch. I was flying to Bangkok via Sydney at 9.50 am so that meant catching the first flight of the day QF400 Melbourne to Sydney (Boeing 737). While I have caught the 6 am first flight before it was for work on a workday, today the terminal was nearly empty. My faithful pack bag (40+ countries / 9 years service and counting) was checked though to Bangkok (I hope to see it again in around 15 hours). I believe I was the third person through security and the first person in the QANTAS Club Lounge when it opened at 5 am.
Freddie the Frog will be a companion on this trip. I promised my niece Erin I’d look after him, show him the sights and bring him home safely. We will see if I can live up to that promise.
One of the benefits of being a QANTAS Gold member is you can select Exit Row seat for no cost on a domestic flight which is great for the extra leg room. On a work day my seat mates are usually big guys like me, today it was young girls (20 years old tops) who both used the serving table as headrests. I’m guessing they got up even earlier than me.
Arriving at Sydney Terminal 3 it was a short walk to Gate 15 and a recheck of my international booking pass and I was on a bus crossing over the tarmac giving me a great view of the planes from below. International checkin at immigration resulted in a full body scanner after being randomly selected, I hope they enjoy the imagine.
My QANTAS Gold membership gets me in their International Business Lounge which allowed for a full breakfast (I skipped breakfast on flight to Sydney). Pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, croissants and juice set me up for a day of seating on a plane. Saw a few people pouring beers at 8.30 am, a couple of whiskey drinkers as well, whereas the fresh fruit and veggie smooth maker wasn’t get much business.
QF23 Sydney to Bangkok (A330 plane) required passengers to checkin at Gate 26F which meant board in another bus (a theme for today) and then boarding from the tarmac, luckily there was no rain. I’m so used to air bridge boarding it actually left weird being out in the elements.
The flight was uneventful, lunch was served at 11.30 Sydney time or on my adjusted Bangkok time 8.30 am. I carefully changed me seat last night and ended up with an aisle seat (36D) and a vacant seat next to me (score). The entertainment system helps the 10 hours go a bit faster, I must have been in a sentimental mode with some of my selection:
- Minions (always wanted to see – no where near Despicable Me standard)
- The Great Gilly Hopkins (abandoned teenager, in the foster system – quite good)
- Fathers & Daughter (Set in two time periods – very enjoyable).
Comedy TV shows and Game of Thrones covered the rest of the trip as sleeping during the day wasn’t going to be an option. Just before landing there was a small cheese pastry and orange juice to complete the journey. We landed a few minutes early. Immigration wasn’t hard, finding the meeting point for the transfer to the hotel was however a little more difficult. Eventually I found the point and a fellow tour member Grahram Smith ex-Australian who has been living in the USA for last 30 years.
It took about an hour to get to the hotel, I forgot how big Bangkok really is. The hotel looks great, better than the last couple of hotels my work put me in at any rate! There was already a tour group briefing going when I arrived. I’m going to a later one which meant a nice shower and change of clothes. Which means officially that;
South East Asia Adventure Now Begins – Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka!!