Monday, May 21, 2012

Goodbye Heaven, Hello Strikes


Heavenly Flowers

Spend 17 hours at 40,000 feet  and you begin to feel in the company of Mars, Venus, the stars or even better Heaven. That’s the altitude Thai pilots took us to yesterday and last night to get us within range of Nepal.  I’ve had heaven on my mind a lot recently, how people interpret it and how it brings a light and joy to death, and most of us need heaven to aim for when things are low or painful. But an endless day flying on purple and berry colored Thai Airways over the pole to the other side of the world, gave me a chance to think high, very high. It has always amazed me that on a normal crossing  in the USA most of the time, we are told proudly by pilots when we’ve reached the altitude of 30,000 ft. Did you realize that’s the same altitude as the summit of Mt. Everest?  But cutting across the North Pole from Los Angeles, Thai jets travel as high as 40,000 feet! Deep breathe, for heaven’s sake, and watch their pilots land on the clouds.
About half way into that 17 hour trip up high, it’s not uncommon to think, Oh gosh, I need to get out of here and step on some soil. It’s like one often might feel locked on a cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific with land days away. Do I really want to do this? Can we turn around? But, instead of a panic, I just watched a fourth movie, a cute one called One For the Money and dozed hardly through the rest of the flying time on a version of a stretched out business class bed that was too short.
View of boarding area
Bangkok
There was a brief stop in Seoul where we had to get off the plane, march through security (where the very young attractive security person took away my needlepoint scissors) and back onto the plane. Finally, a few hours later, we landed at nighttime in Bangkok. Most airline personnel and security folk are young, thin, not very tall Asians, not the huge, older guards and agents working Memphis and other USA airports. It’s a youth’s world here in Southeast Asia. They all look fit and smiley-faced.
Royal Family Fotos
I had to spend half a night at Bangkok on a layover. It has the most amazing airport I’ve ever been through. The Thai Royal Family  is glorified with giant blown up photographs of their activities and interest across the long entrances. Not only does the building’s wave-like architecture lay out across a huge measure of land, but there is a half mile of Duty Free shops - from Hermes and Tiffany to Thai sweets counters. You have to pass by them to get to the gates. No, I didn’t stop to buy anything. 
And across the way, accessed by bus, sits the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel. I was too late to access their Dim Sum and Sushi menus but did get some green tea ice cream at 1:30 a.m. The hotel’s massive lobby is centered with giant flower arrangements, a modern temple design for a check-in area and a rambling breakfast area in the lobby where I tried Thai omelet, strange fruits, chocolate croissant and a piece of butter cake. What shocked me was that broccoli and cauliflower were part of the morning offerings along with green guava juice. But BBC and CNN (always better when you are outside the USA) gave no clues to how the NBA playoffs are going, nor who won the Preakness.........It’s hard to let go.
Honeycomb for breakfast
Airport Temple
Returning to the airport again at 8 a.m. after a restless few hours and after a long walk to the gate, we departed for Kathmandu, a disturbing, sweltering city which, on our arrival, was locked down in a  political strike. I don’t know what they are striking about, but this one has been going on for a few days (there was also a strike when I was here in 2008 en route to Everest’s base camp)  and so there was no traffic but tourist buses (really a God send) and people had to walk to their destinations or stay locked in their homes. Nothing was open anyway. Commercialism was thwarted.
Hope we get the Tibet visa tomorrow morning at the China Embassy, if it’s open. Visas have been approved but most be stamped in the passports. 
One  learns quickly that one can not control destiny in Nepal, or make firm plans.
Kathmandu is the next blog.

8 comments:

CURTIS & GERALDEAN PERSON said...

Audrey,
Just saw that our third attempt at a comment was actually there on your second posting. Maybe we've learned how to do this.
Your wonderful Letter To The Editor was in this morning's (Monday) CA. Thank you so much for your postive statements about the Court and me. You are the best!
The posting about your flight to Bangkok and your brief stay there brought back many fond memories of our trip to Bangkok in 1985.
We flew home on Thai Airlines and were in the air for 22 hours. Thai Airlines upgraded us to first class and that was a real treat!
Reading your blog makes us feel like we are traveling with you. We'll look forward to your next posting from Kathmandu.
Hope you are enjoying every minute of your journey. We miss you.
God bless you.
Love you,
Geraldean & Judge

Curtis & Geraldean Person said...

Audrey,
In our comment on this posting please note that it begins with
CURTIS & amp;
Where did the "& amp" come from? I did not type that.
Judge

Curtis and Geraldean Person said...

Maybe if I type "Curtis and Geraldean Person" and leave out the & sign the &amp will go away.

Michael said...

Yes, I was going to suggest that - typing "and" instead of "&".

The explanation is obscure and geeky: "&" is used in computers as a sort of prefix code for representing a special symbol or punctuation. It's also ITSELF one of those special symbols, whose code is "&" (without the "). The short of it all: The software for Audrey's blog is getting tripped up and confused.

Michael said...

See? It got tripped up just now and didn't display exactly what I had typed. Instead, the software displayed what it thought I meant to say.

The code for representing an amersand is *amp; (with an actual ampersand where I just now put the asterisk)

Carlos Silvera said...

Very good Audrey, you are the best!!!
God bless you
I miss you

Dan said...

Happy travels dear friend. When you talked about 30 thousand feet being slightly higher than Everest you got me. Never thought of it that way. WOW. Have a magical journey and make plans to tell me about it over lunch when you return.

DD said...

Hi Audrey. Just thinking about you. Looks like a very beautiful place! Praying for you, DD.