Chapters
Jauntin'

Bangkok – Medellin the first


The time that I was to be in Bangkok that first time passed.
As I told you in the first trip between Medellin and Bangkok, that was the first trip out of three that I did. It was over, and the time came for me to return to America.

This first trip was only a couple of weeks, for them to test the waters with me, and for me to do the same with them. It all went fine, so much so that I returned twice later, and for way longer time.

I explain why this trip was such an important thing for me back in the day in the introduction on the link above.

The return had a similar route to the one I had used for coming. That is: Bangkok – Beijing – Washington – Miami – Medellin.

So, I went early to Suvarnabhumi Airport in a taxi, through a very good motorway. Back then, you couldn’t get to the Airport on train.

But as you can see in this photo, they were already building the rail link.

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Well, no.

Technically, the project had been stalled for a few years already. Due to a lot of government-politic-economic-corruption issues.
But eventually, they resumed construction, and it’s nowadays finished.

You can now go to Suvarnabhumi relaxed on train. Connecting with the MRT (the underground), and the BTS (the overground).
Both systems co-exist in Bangkok.

I couldn’t use the new link. When it was put to service, I had already left the country after my third, and thus far last, stint around Thailand.

For me, the train is the best way to get to an Airport when you’re alone, and want to arrive on time, and without many problems.

I’ve been ever more convinced about that all the times that I’ve been able to do so. In places such as Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, London, or Moscow.

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Reaching the Airport.

I’m ever more convinced, when I see the mess that is reaching Rionegro’s Airport through Las Palmas, in comparison.

But they killed the train here. Except for Medellin’s Metro, the El Cerrejón coal train, and the sugarcane trains in Valle del Cauca. Anyway.

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Suvarnabhumi.

Suvarnabhumi
Suvarnabhumi's control tower was back in the day the tallest in the world at 132 metres high. Nowadays a tower they made in Kuala Lumpur (close, in Malaysia) beats it by one metre, and it will be beat that another one they're building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that is going to be about 136 metres according to the plans.

Ramírez.

Suvarnabhumi
Super tall and delicious.

Ramírez.

I arrived in the Airport and checked-in. There, they asked for my Colombian ID, because I told them that Colombia was my final destination.

Since I had entered Thailand with another passport, they needed to see I had a residency permit, or visa, or something in Colombia.

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Finger’s good, eh?

Then, I went to see the operations and to take photos from a place that existed back then in the sixth floor.
I don’t know if now, ten years later, it still exists. I had breakfast right there.

Some Aeroplanes I saw at that moment, below.

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Indian Airlines Airbus A320. Indian Airlines was one of the two flag carriers of India.
It merged with Air India (the other one) many years ago.

Back in the day, they were going to fight about the final name the merged airline would have. A Solomonic someone said:

-“Well, let’s call it Air Indian then”.

In the end, common sense prevailed.

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Airbus A330-300, and below, what can be seen of a Thai Airways Boeing 737-400 in old colours.

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Jet Airways Boeing 737-800. Nowadays, India’s second airline.

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Etihad Boeing 777-300. Back then, the airline had been operating only for about 5 years and didn’t have such an extensive network.

Also, it was most likely for me to see the Boeing 777-200 than the -300, so it was great for me to see this one.

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The very scarce, very elusive, and very delicious Thai Airways Airbus A340-500. The airline does not use them anymore.

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Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200.

In countries such as Japan, China, Singapore and Thailand, it’s pretty common for wide-body Aeroplanes to be used in short-haul flights. Such as this one going to Singapore.

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Qatar Airways Airbus A330.

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Sri Lankan Airbus A330-200.

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The queen, Thai Airways Boeing 747-400. I was waiting to leave in another one just a couple of hours later.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 with Star Alliance colours.

Once, I had something happen in Rionegro’s Airport.
There was an Avianca Airbus A320 arriving with those colours, and some woman that was waiting for her daughter said:

-“Nooo sonny she’s not coming there, she’s coming in Avianca. What’s arriving is a certain estar ayi-an-ce, such a weird thing. When does Avianca arrive?”.

It cracked me up.

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ANA – All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-200.

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Bangkok Airways ATR 72-500.

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Jetstar Singapore Airbus A320. They would be pretty common for me in Australia some years later.

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Skystar Boeing 767-200. One of many Thai airlines that have come to life just to die a little while later…

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Thai Airways Airbus A300 in old colours.

I had the chance to fly on one, but they changed my flight and I missed it… Now they don’t use it any more, and there are few in the world flying passenger services. Will I be able to make it?

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The queen, but cargo version this time around. Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F.

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Lao Airlines MA-60. It’s a Chinese turboprop based on the Antonov An-26.

The An-26 is an all-rounder, what a good Aeroplane! It’s the only one I’ve seen thus far… I hope to be able to fly on one sometime.

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Thai Airways Airbus A300 in the, back then, new colours.

The purple had a delicious glossy finish before. But they decided it was too expensive to paint them like that, and the current purple is sort of lacklustre. Clicking here you will be able to see other photos of the delicious glossy purple of the time.

I would have remained there watching Aeroplanes all day long. But it was, it was time, it was time to emigraaaate. So I went to do emigration and to the gate.

Route: Bangkok (BKK) – Beijing (PEK)
Airplane: Boeing 747-400
Airline: Thai Airways

My flight to Beijing was, as in the earlier leg, a magnificent Boeing 747-400. This time around it was HS-TGZ, and this one had the new Thai Airways colours.

Flight TG614 was looking good. This was the third Boeing 747-400 that I was going to fly on in less than a month, I could get used to that…

The walk to the gate was long, but delicious, because it was watching lots of Aeroplanes. As usual, there were many duty-free shops but nothing that would catch my interest, or that I could afford.

There was local decoration, and pagodas.

Suvarnabhumi
Pagoda.

Ramírez.

Suvarnabhumi
The royal family is very important in Thailand, so much so that there still exists lesé majesté laws, which basically make it a crime to criticise or insult the royalty.

Ramírez.

Suvarnabhumi
Royal barge representation.

Ramírez.

Suvarnabhumi
They make royal barge processions every so many years in Thailand, it's an event of great religious and royal importance.

Ramírez.

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On my way.

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Another pagoda.

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Yet another…

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Whoooo is thaaaat maaaan…

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Finally.

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One last shot.

I arrived in my gate, the C3. Exactly the “same” that I had in Washington when I was leaving for Bangkok.

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I could finally see my Aeroplane.

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There it is.

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Who bought nosey-nose?

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Those going to Beijing! Gate C3.

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Being prepared.

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Suvarnabhumi is very nice, but it doesn’t lend itself much to take good photos from the gates.

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Who bought foreheady-forehead?

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Boarding. The view from the other side of the HSBC advertising.

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About to go inside.

It was all ready, and I had the row for myself once again. We took off with a view of the Bangkok port. There were many ships arriving.

Then, we made a turn and flew toward China.

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Sitting already.

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Bangkok.

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There was another Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 in the next gate, with old colours.

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Winglet to winglet.

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Being pushed back.

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What I was saying about the royalty. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, died in October 2016. He was succeeded by his son Maha Vajiralongkorn.

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Push back continues.

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A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 was taxiing nearby…

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As well as a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-400.

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Thai Airways.

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Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 old colours.

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On taxi to runway 19R for departure, before us in the line a Thai Air Asia Boeing 737-300.

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And a Bangkok Airways ATR 72-500.

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Behind us, a Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 in old colours.

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And many others behind that Airbus A330-300.

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TG614, line up and wait runway 19R.

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Cargo terminal in the background.

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Let’sgonooooos!

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Ahoooy! Runway 01R threshold visible.

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Suvarnabhumi’s surroundings.

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The sea, and the Chao Phraya river.

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Toward China.

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Lop Buri.

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Beijing, 1995 nautical miles away.

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The time in Thai.

We flew over Laos, Vietnam, and entered China through the south, Guangxi province I think.

It seemed like we were flying through a very congested airway, as I saw many Aeroplanes flying below us opposite way.

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Lower left corner, another Boeing 747 below flying opposite way.

About one hour after take off food was offered, and this time around I could taste it. They didn’t disappoint!

And like in the earlier flight, whoever finds an ugly flight attendant in this flight gets a United lemon cookie. Bbbrrrr!

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Delish.

They also offered beverages, tea, hot towels. The earphones for the entertainment system were delivered in a very nice little case.

As I’ve said before, I’m very simple in my expectations for service. Still, given a choice, I would have chosen Thai Airways over everything else I had flown on up until that moment.

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Walking around the Aeroplane…

Leaving Thailand, we flew over the Nam Ngum reservoir, located about 60 kilometres north of Vientiane, Laos’ capital.

It has a hydroelectric plant that powers the capital and other parts of the country, and they sell whatever is left to Thailand. It’s one of Laos’ biggest exports.

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Nam Ngum.

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Would that be the Mekong river?

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41000 feet high.

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Crystals on the window.

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Closer to Beijing than Bangkok already.

The flight continued, very calmed, little turbulence, and we reached Beijing on time. That day nothing could be seen either because of the smog situation.

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Descent into Beijing.

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Something could be seen already…

We had a normal landing, but the Pilot flying was missing his intended exit taxiway and stepped on the brakes. First time that I experience the true power of the Boeing 747-400 brakes!

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Taxiing after landing.

TG614
Taxiing with Beijing's control tower in sight.

Ramírez.

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Terminal 3.

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Air China Boeing 767-200.

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Air China.

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El-Al Boeing 767-200.

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El-Al Boeing 767-200.

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Arriving to our sector.

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The winglet of our Boeing 747-400, and the tail of an Air Canada Boeing 777-300.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300.

We parked just beside the United Boeing 747-400 that was going to take me to Washington. This time we were on time, so I could walk a little more around the Airport.

Or at least the part of Terminal 3 I was in.

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Ready in the gate.

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Thai Airways, United Airlines, Air Canada, and Dragonair.

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Catering truck.

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Hell yeah!

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Disembarking.

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My following Aeroplane…

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HS-TGZ in the gate after bringing me from Bangkok. Kop khun krap!

Route: Beijing (PEK) – Washington (IAD)
Airplane: Boeing 747-400
Airline: United Airlines

Unlike the first time I passed through Beijing’s Airport, now I had arrived on time for my connection. So I had more than one hour to see the place.

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At the time there weren’t many people. Or perhaps there were, but very well-distributed, so I didn’t notice.

UAL898
Jackie Chan.

Ramírez.

I walked around and I saw many Aeroplanes of Air China, I saw Airbus A340-300, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 767-200 and Boeing 777-200.

I also saw Aeroplanes from other Airlines, such as Air Canada (Boeing 777-300), Asiana (Airbus A321), Air Macau (Airbus A320).

El-Al (Boeing 767-200), Dragonair (Airbus A330-300), the Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 in which I had arrived, among others.

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Exiting my gate.

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My two Boeing 747-400s of that day. HS-TGZ from Bangkok, and N187UA to Washington.

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N187UA.

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Air China Airbus A340-300.

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Air Canada Boeing 777-300.

There were many duty-free shops as well, but not so many as in Bangkok, or so it appeared to me. I didn’t pay attention to it really.

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Fountain.

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Information kiosk, there were two Irishmen having some trouble.

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Terminal 3.

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Asiana Airbus A321.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300.

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Air China Boeing 767-200.

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Air China Boeing 747-400.

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Air China Boeing 737-800.

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Air China Airbus A330.

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Hell yeah Beijing!

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“Convenience service for fee”. You could pay and go take a stroll around the Airport in one of these carts. Like a morbidly obese in a supermarket.

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The El-Al Boeing 767-200 that I had seen when arriving apparently had transported the Israeli delegation for the 2008 Olympics.

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Boeing 747-400 engine in maintenance.

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Air China Airbus A340-300.

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Whoooo is that maaan shadoow…

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For this phone use…

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…a card here you must purchase.

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Air Canada Boeing 777-300.

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The United Boeing 747-400 that would take me to Washington being prepared.

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The Thai Boeing 747-400 that had brought me from Bangkok being prepared to go back there. A Boeing 737-800 taking off in the background.

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Loo.

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HAHAHAHAHA!

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Terminal 3.

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The Toronto flight taxiing. It wasn’t as long as mine, but they didn’t have a short flight either!

It was time to board, and right there in the gate, they checked my cabin baggage.

I thought they were going to be troublesome about a Thai Coca-Cola bottle I was bringing to my friend Rascael who collects them.

But no, they saw it was empty, and it was no problem.

Coca-Cola Thai.
A thai Coca-Cola bottle like the one I brought my friend Rascael.

Ramírez.

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Boarding.

I went inside N187UA, the United Airlines Boeing 747-400 that was going to bring me back to America. I sat in my 49A window seat, the long flight UA898 was starting.

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Being pushed back.

This one had the grey colours, the “old” ones back then. The new ones were the very pretty blue ones.

They replaced them by Continental Airlines’ colours in the merger.

The middle seat was again empty, and in the aisle an old guy from the United States was sitting. I never get hot chicks sitting beside me as I’ve said.

It’s the same anyway, because I don’t talk to them, and they don’t talk to me, muahahaha.

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Being pushed back.

This time around there was no baby wanting to grab my nose. No tipsy Harley-Davidson aficionado, no seat changes, no delays, nothing.

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Air China Boeing 777-200.

We were pushed-back on time and made our way to the runway. Rotation happened at about 19:00 local time in Beijing, there was still some light.

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About 19:00 local, starting our taxi still with some daylight.

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Air China Boeing 737-800, 2008 Olympics logojet.

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About to take off. Shanghai Airlines Boeing 767-300 in sight.

We left the same way in which we had arrived a couple of weeks before. That is, around Mongolia, Russia, Canada, and then the United States.

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Is that you Yisus?

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Mongolian skies.

I was awake up until lake Baikal, and then I fell asleep. When I woke up we were already over Canada. I lost the snow this time because of being a sleepyhead, but I am not even sure if it there was any light by the time we flew over it.

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Canada, after I don’t know how many hours that I slept…

After waking up, they offered food. I think it was the third of the flight already, and they hadn’t given me the first one because of being fast asleep.

The second meal was the noodles and they were around. No complaints either.

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This time, there was a very beautiful flight attendant that could compete with the Thai Airways’ ones. Her name was Anne, but she didn’t serve my sector (and it would have been the same anyway).

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  THIS IS AMEEEeeeEEeeeRICA!  

We entered the United States around New York and Buffalo. We landed in Washington at around 19:20 of the same day we took off.

This time the flight took almost 2 hours less than when going to Beijing, because we had favourable winds.

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I had been inside an Aeroplane for 12 hours counting sleep time. My butt cheeks had merged again (“fusionae arsum”).

But time had only passed by 20 minutes, it was craaaazy crazy.

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Approaching Washington-Dulles.

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Taxiing to gate C3 again.

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Southwest Boeing 737.

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Aer Lingus Airbus A330.

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Immortal Northwest Douglas DC-9.

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Dulles mobile lounges again.

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United Express CRJ-700.

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Texas Rangers Boeing 757-200.

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United Boeing 767-300.

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Arrived in gate C3 again.

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AirTran Boeing 717-200.

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United Boeing 757-200.

I did immigration and customs alongside the passengers of the Air France flight that had just arrived as well.

I met with who was supposed to pick me up very quickly, and I went to see more Aeroplanes from the roof of a parking lot.

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The main terminal of Washington-Dulles. Photo taken from the parking lot after arriving from Beijing, and having made immigration and customs, now at nighttime.

I think it’s beautiful. Designed by a Finnish architect called Eero Saarinen.

Like in the earlier leg, now that I was returning I had a free day in Washington.

And like in the earlier leg, I used it for walking around and going to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

This time, I didn’t go to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles. I went to the “original” one, right in downtown Washington.

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Around Washington.

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The Federal Aviation Administration, all hail!

Even though the Udvar-Hazy Center has a Space Shuttle, the “original” seemed to me to be more inclined toward space. Delicious.

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The very Spirit of St.Louis, the first Aeroplane to make a transatlantic flight.

I had a blast there. I saw aerospace beauties such as Soviet satellites, the nose of a Northwest Boeing 747-100, a Ford TriMotor, and a Douglas DC-3.

Also, the SpaceShipOne, the very Spirit of St.Louis, an Imax film… and other things. I waaas spooooiled for choice.

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SpaceShipOne. The very first Aeroplane made with private capital with sub-orbital flight capabilities.

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Watching a film in the Imax.

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Sidereaaaaal space stuff.

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More sidereaaaal space stuff.

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Soviet sidereaaaal space stuff.

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Said stuff and me.

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Sidereaaaal space stuff cockpit.

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N-X-211, Spirit of St.Louis.

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Ford TriMotor.

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Douglas DC-3.

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Nose of a Northwest Boeing 747-100.

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Cockpit.

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MUAHAHAH!

Route: Washington (IAD) – Miami (MIA)
Airplane: Boeing 757-200
Airline: American Airlines

After resting in Washington, it was time to return to Colombia.

The first flight, AA1569 to Miami, was pretty early. When I reached the Airport it was still dark, but there was already a line for that flight.

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Going inside the terminal.

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Inside.

I checked-in. After removing my shoes, watch, and everything else, and being almost naked to be able to go in the waiting room, I sat for a while to wait.

By the evening I would be in Colombia again.

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Dawn in Dulles.

We boarded right on time and so was the push-back. At times, I liked to film take-offs, but this time, I didn’t do it.

Back then, in theory, you couldn’t have electronic devices turned on in that phase. Years later they would notice that for most purposes it was a dumb thing and now they’re allowed.

I was right in the visual field of a flight attendant called Corey that was very maaad, and had me in sight. So nope.

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Beware of falling!

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View from my window.

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CRJ-900.

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Another CRJ and another Boeing 767.

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AN-TOO-NOOOOV 124! It was the first time that I saw one, even though far away.

We left Washington, and flew over Savannah, Georgia. In Savannah, Gulfstream Aeroplanes are made. Beautiful Gulfstream! Delicious Gulfstream!

Soon after, we reached Miami.

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A totally non-eventful flight, without turbulence and without food. I drank two Minute Maid orange juices though, typical.

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Again I had a window seat and nobody in the middle. In the aisle, there was a kind of cute girl with a Latin surname, but she slept all the way. I don’t think we would have talked any way, hihihi.

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What Airport could that be…

We started our approach to Miami, and Corey started to read a newspaper. So, I camouflaged my camera with a jumper and I filmed the landing. Oh, I’m so badass!

AA1569
Descent to Miami.

Ramírez.

AA1569
Approach to Miami.

Ramírez.

We arrived in gate D49, the same one I had used for boarding to Washington in the earlier leg.

I then sought for the gate the Medellin flight was going to depart from. That done, I walked around.

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UPS Boeing 767-300F.

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Variglog McDonnell-Douglas MD-11F. This airline doesn’t exist any more.

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American Eagle ATR 72-500.

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Atlas Air Boeing 747-200F.

N181AN, the Boeing 757-200 in which I had arrived, looked beautiful there in the gate. You can confirm it in the series of four photos that are coming next.

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Cutie pie!

Route: Miami (MIA) – Medellin (MDE)
Airplane: Boeing 737-800
Airline: American Airlines

I had some time to take photos in Miami, although it was only American Airlines in the part of the Airport that I was in.

It was fine anyway. Airbus A300, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 757-200, and Boeing 777-200 appeared.

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Airbus A300. American Airlines flew to Bogota with this one for many years.

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Boeing 777-200.

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Boeing 757-200, I had arrived in one of those (but not that one).

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Boeing 737-800, I was to leave in one of those (but not that one). Nowadays, American Airlines is flying to Medellin on Airbus A319 Aeroplanes.

I went to the waiting room and I sat.

There was a certain Adriana talking to the guys that were sitting next to me. They were talking about Uribe and Chavez, and about booze and the farm.

Also, about her husband that was already learning to “handle the internet”. And her children that “handled internet already”, and assorted mumbo-jumbo.

Some time later that woman invited those guys to her farm, and then she invited the rest of people that were sitting there. I better left to another chair.

You didn’t need to look at the screen to know that flight was headed to Medellin.

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Thanks to Adriana you didn’t have to look at the screen to know the flight was headed to Medellin, but I looked at it nonetheless. I even took a photo, hihihi.

Flight AA919 to Medellin that day was going to be flown by N953AN, a Boeing 737-800.

AA919
N953AN in the gate before boarding destination Medellin.

Ramírez.

They called boarding on time, and I sat on my emergency exit window seat.

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My cabin baggage didn’t fit in the overhead bin of the Boeing 737-800, in the Boeing 747-400 it had fit perfectly.

Since it was an emergency exit, I couldn’t put on the floor. So, I put it in the closet located forward of the Aeroplane.

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The guy in front of me had the same thing happen to him.

And an Argentinian flight attendant (the cabin crew was Argentinian and Chilean) named Nestor chastised him. The passenger got a little confused about what he should have done in view of the situation he was in.

In stern Argentinian accent, Nestor said something like:

-“YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT THIS AN EMERGENCY EXIT NOTHING CAN BE THERE NOOO!”

The poor bald guy in front was left like if he was Mario and had been hit by a turtle. Becoming small and wanting to be swallowed by the earth.

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We were all ready, almost about to push-back and on time, but we remained at the gate for another 20 minutes.

The Captain said that someone had checked-in baggage and it had been put in the hold. But the person hadn’t boarded the Aeroplane.

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While we waited this other Boeing 737-800 was pushed-back, Managua bound.

The result: a one hour delay while all the suitcases were pulled out, the suspect one identified and removed, and then all the others put back in again.

All with an operative of the DHS, TSA and the airline in the platform.

The only thing missing was a red haired guy called Horatio Caine, and soloist of band called, let’s say, The Who, shouting in the background.

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Know your meme.

Once again, the middle seat was empty. In the aisle, there was a guy whose name is Julian (or was in case he died already -it’s going to be 10 years since that flight!-).

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The Boeing 757 is beautiful.

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American Airlines.

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Embraer ERJ-145.

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Another American Eagle ATR 72-500.

After one hour, finally we started our taxi toward the runway and took off.

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Continental Connection Beechcraft B1900D.

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Delta Connection CRJ-200.

AA919
Miami control tower.

Ramírez.

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Amerijet Boeing 727-200F.

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Estafeta Boeing 737-300F.

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Reaching the runway for take off, an American Airlines Boeing 757-200 doing its thing.

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Gemini Air Cargo Douglas DC-10-30F. Those were regular in Rionegro operating flights for Tampa Cargo. Gemini does not exist any more.

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Arrow Douglas DC-8F with original engines. Arrow does not exist any more either, and I doubt the Aeroplane flies at this point… but they used to come to Rionegro too.

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UPS Boeing 757-200F.

A non-eventful flight.

Some older woman stood up to use the loo, and Nestor was moving a cart at snail pace. He wouldn’t give the woman some room, so she could move on, and didn’t realise (or pretended he didn’t realise).

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Leaving Miami.

The woman was grimacing toward me, as I was about to burst out laughing.
She was like:

-“Fuck I’m about to shit myself and this guy won’t move I can’t nooooo!”.

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Food on AA919 from Miami to Medellin that day.

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Blue skies and seas.

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Over Cuba or Jamaica.

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The Aeroplane’s interior from my seat.

We had to hold a little before landing in Rionegro, and then we approached and landed normally.

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Holding before approaching.

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Taxiing to the gate after landing.

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Avianca Fokker 100. The airline does not use them anymore, and has other colours which aren’t as nice as these.

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Aero Republica McDonnell-Douglas MD-82. The airline does not use them any more, and commercially it’s now called Copa Airlines Colombia. Alas, this article has been pure history!

I saw the preparations for the F-Air 2008 from the Aeroplane.

I disembarked and did immigration and customs. Beside me, doing her line, was a woman I fell in love with. I managed to take a blurry photo of her hair.

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The bird.

Ah, of course, Adriana was there as well, talking about her husband, booze, the internet. She had already invited half the Aeroplane to her farm (not me, fortunately).

AA919
N953AN in the gate.

Ramírez.

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The Boeing 737-800 that had brought me from Miami getting ready to go back.
You can see an Avianca Fokker 50 slowing down there. The airline does not use that Aeroplane any more either.

Then I went home and slept, jet lag was after me.
That was it! I had arrived from my first trip beyond the Pacific puddle without any problem.

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