Wrapping it up! Wed/Thurs, Oct 28/29, 2015
Our driver parked the bus and we walked to our boat launch, more like stumbled in the heat. Lunch was across the murky Chao Phraya to Supatra River House - "Exotic Thai Seafood Cuisine." 11 hot, thirsty travelers sat down in the air conditioning and cooled off. Water and juice were served and we drank our fill. The food was delicious. Thailand had the best food on our trip by a long shot.
You guys get away from that dog!
All of us were undone by the heat, but it was nice to cool off, sit with friends, and enjoy lunch.
While we waited for the river boat to return following lunch, I wandered into the courtyard where enormous orchid plants were in full bloom. Bangkok can grow some flowers! The cute little elephant below was nearby.
Back at the Majestic Grande, Jimmy and I shucked off sweaty clothes, showered, and decided to join Sheila, Bernice, and Irwin on the streets near the hotel to search for T-shirts. After the fact, Jimmy and I wished we'd gone to the pool instead. Sheila found a T-shirt, but none of the rest of us did. We managed, however, to get hot and sweaty all over again!
I just don't know what I can say about this picture!!!
Dinnertime found us back on the bus and then walking toward the river, but the sun was down and the evening air was balmy. Did we see a flash of lightning? Was that thunder? Yes and yes. We made it to Arun Restaurant on the river, seated inside (that's important) in air conditioning and watching the lightning show before rain fell in sheets. The first rain of our entire trip, and the rain stopped before we left the restaurant! Lucky, lucky us!
Last night's dessert was white sticky rice. This evening we had black sticky rice with fresh mango and a tiny dish of ice cream -- delightful and delicious! Double thumbs up. After dinner we strolled back to the bus on wet streets, returned to the hotel and packed our suitcases. The bus left the hotel at 9:30 pm for Bangkok's airport; our flight to Beijing would depart at 1:05 am on Thursday.
So, this basically marked the end of our three-week trip to the Best of the Mountain Kingdoms. Months of planning and anticipation went into our trip, and though I failed to keep reliable notes at times (blame it on overwhelm?), the pictures we took and this blog will serve to jog our memories when we need an assist. Truly, a trip of a lifetime!
The sights we saw, both natural and man-made, won't fade in our eyes anytime soon, if ever. New friends, new countries and cultures, fantastic experiences, hikes to monasteries most can only dream about, all these things we'll cherish.
On a lighter note, some of the bathrooms we used were, uh, certainly different than anything we'd seen in the west. The worst was having to squat over a smelly cement trough with liquid running along the bottom, but at least it had stalls with doors! Everybody has to go, and it's any port in the storm, so to speak. Many of the toilets in ladies rooms had what looked like a man's urinal, only flat on the floor, and that was what we had to use.
As I was saying, Krish and Matthew guided us through the cavernous, crowded airport, avoiding long queues, and we made it in and out of customs and security without delay. Our luggage was checked straight thru to Los Angeles (LAX) for which we were grateful. We bade Krish and Matthew goodbye ... we'd grown quite fond of Krish and his impulsive, fun nature.
We didn't see Mount Everest or the Himalayas this flight, but I wanted to leave you with this photo.
The flight from Bangkok to Beijing was peaceful and uneventful, with little sleep for me unfortunately, and we landed at 5:30 am Thursday (6:30 Beijing time). We had a fairly long layover in Beijing, and the lounge we had passes for turned out to be less than stellar, so four of us scouted out a breakfast place. Our next flight -- the long one -- from Beijing to LAX left at 12:30 pm Thursday afternoon, and landed at LAX something like 12 hours later at 9 am Thursday morning. How's that for flying into yesterday? Food was served twice, the first time shortly after we boarded. As we traveled into night, the cabin lights went dark and the plane became quiet. We slept off and on. Between 3-4 hours pre-LAX, life aboard the jet stirred and more food was served, which we ate; we were hungry. We still had three hours till we arrived at LAX. I was next to a window and even with my blanket and pillow, I got cold. I grew tired of sitting and got up occasionally to stretch and walk in the aisles.
Finally, at LAX, all went smoothly and our little group of 11 split as people went to find their connecting flights. We changed (and paid for it) to an earlier flight from LAX to Sacramento (the last flight this trip!) and got into SMF (Sacramento -- we call it Smurf) a little after noon on Thursday. Still Thursday! Matt picked us up at the airport and soon we were home. Home. We spent the next week-and-a-half trying to get right-side again -- jet lag supreme!
Lastly, Jimmy requested no more rice for a long time, since we had rice with every lunch and dinner!