The time that I was scheduled 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, in which I accumulated several months living in Thailand, and 2 years involved with certain project as a freelancer), 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, as I’ve said already.
In the above article’s introduction it’s deeper explained why this trip was such an important thing for me back in the day.
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 can be seen in this photo, the rail link was already being built.
Well no, technically the project had been stalled for a few years already because of a lot of government-politic-economic-corruption issues, but eventually construction was resumed 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 exist there.
I couldn’t use the new link, when it was put to service I had already left the country some months ago after my third, and thus far last, stint around Thailand. I’ve always insisted that the best way to get to an Airport when you’re alone and want to be arrive on time and without much problems is to do it on train, and all the times that I’ve been able to do so in places such as Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, London or Moscow I’ve been ever more convinced about that.
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 the Medellin’s Metro, the El Cerrejón train, and the sugarcane trains in Valle del Cauca). Anyway.
I arrived in the Airport and checked-in, there I was asked for my colombian ID because I told them that Colombia was my final destination, and since I had entered Thailand with another passport, they needed to see I had a residency permit or visa or something.
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 of the Airplanes I saw in that moment:
Indian Airlines A320. It was one of the two flag carriers of Indian, it was 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, and a Solomonic someone said “well, let’s call ir Air Indian then”, but in the end common sense prevailed.
A330-300 and below what can be seen of a Thai Airways 737-400 in old colours.
Jet Airways Boeing 737-800, nowadays India’s second airline.
Etihad Boeing 777-300. Back then the airline had been operating only for about 5 years and didn’t have such an extensive network, and the most common 777 was the -200, so it was great for me to see this one.
The very scarce, very elusive and very delicious Thai Airways Airbus A340-500. The airline does not use them anymore.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200. In countries such as Japan, China, Singapore and Thailand it’s pretty common for wide-body Airplanes to be used in short-haul flights, such as this one going to Singapore.
Qatar Airways Airbus A330.
Sri Lankan Airbus A330-200.
The queen. Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 (I was waiting to leave in another one just a couple of hours later).
Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 with Star Alliance colours. Once I had something happen in Rionegro’s Airport, there was an Avianca 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.
ANA – All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-200.
Bangkok Airways ATR 72-500.
Jetstar Singapore A320. They would be pretty common for me in Australia some years later.
Skystar Boeing 767-200. One of many thai airlines that come to life just to die a little while later…
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 anymore, and there’s few in the world flying passenger services, will I be able to make it?
The queen but cargo version this time around. Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F.
Lao Airlines MA-60. It’s a chinese turboprop based on the An-26 (the An-26 is an all-rounder, what a good Airplane even if old). It’s the only one I’ve seen thus far… I hope to be able to fly on one sometime.
Thai Airways Airbus A300 in the, back then, new colours. The purple was a delicious glossy finish before, but then they decided it was too expensive to paint them like that and the current purple is sort of lackluster. Clicking here you will be able to see other photos of the delicious glossy purple of the time.
I would have remained there watching Airplanes all day long, but it was it was time, it was time to emigraaaate. So I went to do emigration and to the gate.
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 614 was looking good and 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 Airplanes. Obviously there were many duty-free shops but nothing that would catch my interest (or that I had money for), there was varied local decoration and pagodas.
On my way.
Whoooo is thaaaat maaaan…
One last shot.
I arrived in my gate, the C3, exactly the “same” that I had in Washington when I was coming.
I could finally see my Airplane.
There it is.
Who bought nosey-nose?
Those going to Beijing! Gate C3.
Suvarnabhumi is very nice but it doesn’t lend itself much to take good photos from the gates.
Who bought foreheady-forehead?
Boarding. The view from the other side of the HSBC advertising.
About to go inside.
It was all ready and I had the row for myself once again, we took off and the Bangkok port could be seen with many ships arriving, then we made a turn and flew toward China.
In the next gate there was another Thai Airways 747, with old colours.
Winglet to winglet.
Being pushed back.
What I was saying about the royalty. The king Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, died in october 2016. He was replaced by his son Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Push back continues.
A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 was taxiing nearby…
As well as a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-400.
Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 old colours.
On taxi to runway 19R for departure, before us in the line a Thai Air Asia Boeing 737-300.
And a Bangkok Airways ATR 72-500.
Behind us a Thai Airways Airbus A330-300, old colours.
And many others behind that A330.
TG614, line up and wait runway 19R.
Cargo terminal in the background.
Ahoooy! Runway 01R threshold visible.
What surrounds Suvarnabhumi.
The sea and the Chao Phraya river.
Beijing 1995 nautical miles.
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 airplanes flying below us opposite way.
Lower left corner, another 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 that flight gets a United lemon cookie, bbbrrrr!
They also offered beverages, tea, hot towels, and 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, but back then, had I been given a choice, I would have chosen Thai Airways over everything else that I had flown on up until that moment.
Walking around the Airplane…
When we left 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 whatever is left is sold to Thailand. It’s one of Laos’ biggest exports.
Would it be the Mekong river? I’ve no idea…
41000 feet high.
Crystals on the window.
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.
Descent to Beijing.
Something could be seen already…
We had a normal landing but the Pilot in command 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.
Taxiing after landing.
Air China Boeing 767-200.
El-Al Boeing 767-200.
El-Al Boeing 767-200.
Arriving to our sector.
The winglet of our 747 and tail of an Air Canada Boeing 777-300.
We parked just beside the United Boeing 747-400 that was going to take me to Washington, but this time I could walk a little more around the Airport (at least the part of Terminal 3 I was in).
Ready in the gate.
Thai Airways, United Airlines, Air Canada and Dragonair.
My following Airplane…
HS-TGZ in the gate after bringing me from Bangkok. Kop khun krap!
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.
At the time there wasn’t many people (or perhaps there was but very well-distributed so you didn’t notice).
I walked around and I saw many Airplanes of Air China (A340-300, 737-800, 747-400, 767-200 y 777-200), Air Canada (777-300), Asiana (A321), Air Macau (A320), El-Al (767-200), Dragonair (A330-300), the Thai Airways 747-400 in which I had arrived, among others.
Exiting my gate.
My two Boeing 747-400 of that day. HS-TGZ from Bangkok, and N187UA to Washington.
Air China A340-300.
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.
Information kiosk, there two Irishmen having some trouble.
Asiana Airbus A321.
Dragonair Airbus A330-300.
Air China Boeing 767-200.
Air China Boeing 747-400.
Air China Boeing 737-800.
Air China Airbus A330.
Fuck yeah Beijing!
“Convenience service for fee”. You paid and could go roam around the Airport in a little car like a morbidly obese in a supermarket.
The El-Al Boeing 767-200 that I had seen when arriving apparently had transported the israeli delegation for the 2008 olympics, that took place there in Beijing.
747 engine in maintenance.
Air China Airbus A340-300.
Whoooo is that maaan shadoow…
For this phone use…
…a card here you must purchase.
Air Canada Boeing 777-300.
The United Boeing 747-400 that would take me to Washington being prepared.
The Thai Boeing 747-400 that had brought me from Bangkok being prepared to go back, with a Boeing 737-800 taking off in the background.
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 my cabin baggage was checked, I thought they were going to be troublesome about a thai coca-cola bottle I was bringing to my friend Rascael who is a collector, but no, they just saw it was empty and it was no problem.
I went inside the N187UA, the United Airlines Boeing 747-400 that was going to bring me back to America, and I sat in my 49A window seat, the long flight 898 was starting.
Being pushed back.
This one had the gray colours, the “old” ones back then. The new ones were the very pretty blue ones, which were replaced 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 continuously said, but it’s the same anyway because I don’t talk to them and they don’t talk to me.
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.
Air China Boeing 777-200.
We were pushed-back on time and made our way to the runway, and rotated about 19:00 local time in Beijing (there was still some light).
About 19:00 local, starting our taxi still with some daylight.
Air China Boeing 737-800, 2008 olympics logojet.
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, around Mongolia, Russia, Canada, and then the United States.
Is that you Yisus?
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.
Canada after I don’t know how many hours that I slept…
After waking up food was offered, 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 one was the noodles that were around), no complaints either.
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).
THIS IS AMEEEeeeEEeeeRICA!
We entered the United States around New York and Buffalo and 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.
I had been inside an Airplane for 12 hours (counting sleep time), my butt cheeks were merged again (“fusionae arsum”) but time had only passed by 20 minutes, it was craaaazy crazy.
Taxiing to gate C3 again.
Southwest Boeing 737.
Aer Lingus Airbus A330.
Immortal Northwest Douglas DC-9.
Dulles mobile lounges again.
United Express CRJ-700.
Texas Rangers Boeing 757-200.
United Boeing 767-300.
Arrived in gate C3 again.
AirTran Boeing 717-200.
United Boeing 757-200.
I did immigration and customs alongside the passengers of the Air France flight that had just arrived as well, no problem at all. I met with who was supposed to pick me up very quickly and I went to see more Airplanes from the roof of a parking lot.
The main terminal of Washington-Dulles from the parking lot after arriving from Beijing and having made immigration and customs, now at night time. I think it’s beautiful, it was 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 walking around and going to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, but this time to the “original” right in downtown Washington, and not Udvar-Hazy center in Dulles.
The Federal Aviation Administration, hail!
Even though Udvar-Hazy center has a Space Shuttle, the “original” seemed to me to be more inclined toward space. Delicious.
The very Spirit of St.Louis, the first Airplane to make a transatlantic flight.
Obviously I had a blast there watching varied aerospace beauty like soviet satellites, Northwest Boeing 747-100, Ford Trimotor, Douglas DC-3, SpaceShipOne, the very Spirit of St.Louis, an Imax movie… and others, I waaas spooooiled for choice.
SpaceShipOne, the very first Airplane made with private capital with sub-orbital flight capabilities.
Watching a movie in the Imax.
Sidereaaaaal space stuff.
More sidereaaaal space stuff.
Soviet sidereaaaal space stuff.
Said stuff and me.
Sidereaaaal space stuff cockpit.
N-X-211, Spirit of St.Louis.
Nose of a Northwest Boeing 747-100.
Airplane: Boeing 757-200
Airline: American Airlines
After resting in Washington it was time to return to Colombia. The first flight, American Airlines 1569 to Miami, was pretty early. When I reached the Airport it was still dark, but there was already a line for that flight.
Going inside the terminal.
I checked-in and 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.
Dawn in Dulles.
Boarding was made right on time and so was the push-back. This time I didn’t film the take off because back then in theory you couldn’t have electronic devices on in that phase (years later they would notice that for most purposes it was a dumb thing and now they’re allowed), and I was right in the visual field of a flight attendant called Corey that was very maaad, and had me in sight.
Beware of falling!
View from my window.
Another CRJ and another Boeing 767.
AN-TOO-NOOOOV 124! It was the first time that I saw one, even though far away.
We left Washington, flew over Savannah, Georgia (where Gulfstream Airplanes are made beautiful Gulfstream, delicious Gulfstream-) and then we reached Miami.
A totally non-eventful flight, without turbulence and without food (even though I drank two Minute Maid orange juices, typical, jo).
Again in my window seat, nobody in the middle, and in the aisle a kind of hot girl with a latin surname, but she slept all the way, and I wouldn’t have talked to her anyway hihihi.
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 sweater and I filmed the landing, oh I’m so badass!
We arrived in gate D49 (the same one I had used for boarding to Washington in the earlier leg) and I sought for the gate the Medellin flight was supposed to depart from, then I walked around.
UPS Boeing 767-300.
Variglog McDonnell-Douglas MD-11F, the airline doesn’t exist anymore.
American Eagle ATR 72-500.
Atlas Air Boeing 747-200F.
N181AN, the Boeing 757-200 in which I had arrived, looked beautiful there in the gate, as can be seen in the series of four photos that are coming next:
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, A300, 737-800, 757-200 y 777-200 appeared.
Airbus A300, American Airlines flew to Bogota with this one for many years.
Boeing 757-200, I had arrived in one of those (but not that one).
Boeing 737-800, I was to leave in one of those (but ot that one).
Then I went to the waiting room and I sat, and there was a certain Adriana talking to the guys that were sitting next to me, and 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, and I better left to another chair. You didn’t need to look at the screen to know that flight was headed to Medellin.
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 and even took a photo, hihihi.
Flight 919 to Medellin that day was going to be flown by N953AN, a Boeing 737-800.
They called boarding on time and I sat on my emergency exit window seat.
My cabin baggage didn’t fit in the overhead bin of the 737-800 (in the 747-400 had fit perfectly), and since it was an emergency exit we had to put it in the closet in the front of the Airplane because nothing could go on the floor.
The guy in front of me had the same thing happen to him, and an argentinian flight attendant (again the cabin crew was argentinian and chilean) named Nestor chastised him when the guy got a little confused as to what should he have done in view of the situation he was in, he said something like, in stern argentinian accent:
-“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 and then was small and wanted to be swallowed by the earth.
Thing is we were all ready, almost about to push-back and on time, but we remained at the gate for another 20 minutes, and the Captain said that no, that someone had checked-in baggage and it had been put in the hold, but the person hadn’t boarded the Airplane.
While we waited this other 737-800 was pushed-back, Managua bound, I think.
Result: A one hour delay while all the suitcases were pulled out, the suspect one removed, and then all the others put back in. 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.
Once again the middle seat was empty, and 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!-).
The 757 is beautiful.
Another American Eagle ATR 72-500.
Thing is, after one our finally we started our taxi toward the runway and took off.
Continental Connection Beechcraft B1900D.
Delta Connection CRJ-200.
Amerijet Boeing 727-200F.
Estafeta Boeing 737-300F.
Reaching the runway for take off, an American Airlines Boeing 757-200 doing its thing.
Gemini Air Cargo Douglas DC-10-30F. Those were regular in Rionegro operating flights for Tampa Cargo. The airline does not exist anymore.
Arrow Douglas DC-8F with original engines. Arrow does not exist anymore either, and I doubt the Airplanes flies at this point… but they used to come to Rionegro too.
UPS Boeing 757-200F.
A non-eventful flight, even though some older woman stood up to use the loo and Nestor was moving a cart at snail pace, and wouldn’t give the woman some room so she could move on, and was not realising it (or pretended he wasn’t realising).
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!”.
Food on American 919 from Miami to Medellin that day.
Blue skies and seas.
Over Cuba or Jamaica.
The Airplanes interior from my seat.
We had to hold a little before landing in Rionegro, and then we approached and landed normally.
Holding before approaching.
Taxiing to the gate after landing.
Avianca Fokker 100. The airline does not use them anymore, and has other colours which aren’t as nice as these.
Aero Republica McDonnell-Douglas MD-82. The airline does not use them anymore and commercially it’s called Copa Airlines Colombia. This article has been pure history…
I saw the preparations for the F-Air 2008 from the Airplane, I got off, did immigration and customs and beside me, doing her line, was a woman I fell in love with. I managed to take a blurry photo of her hair.
Ah, of course, Adriana was there as well talking about her husband, booze, the internet, and had already invited half the Airplane to her farm (not me, fortunately).
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 Airplane anymore either.
Then I went home and slept, jet lag was after me.
And that was it, I had arrived from my first trip beyond the Pacific puddle without any problem.