Chapters
Jauntin'

Medellin – Bangkok the first


Thanks to the Airbus A380 coming to Medellin, I got in touch with a person. And by this contact, I ended up working as a freelancer in Bangkok, Thailand.

While I was in this activity, I went to Thailand and back three times. Each stay had a different duration, adding a little less than a year altogether that I lived there. I was related to that activity more than two years in total.

When I wasn’t in Thailand I was still involved, but from Colombia. It was like that until that cycle ended for me in a given moment.

All that is part of the things I did to get my Pilot’s licence. Things that can be seen with a little more detail clicking here.
(I still haven’t written that, I’m only leaving it here to remember).

This first trip meant many first things for me: It was the first time that I was on a continent other than America. The first time that I was on the other side of the Pacific, the first time that I saw the North Pole, and the first time that I flew in a Boeing 747.

It also was the first time that I lived totally on my own, and not four blocks away from my mother. Going to have lunch at her place, and with her still having to approve your partner, like some “super independent” people who I used to know.
This was almost in the antipode, no less.

I had always wanted to travel, to go far away.

The rest of the world always produced a lot of curiosity in me, it still does. I never had, and don’t have, racist, xenophobic or chauvinistic impulses.

I didn’t believe, and I still don’t, that as an individual I had any important quality or defect only for having been born at a given place. Nor did I think that place had anything special only because I was born there. That’s just a statistic accident, nothing more.

The foreign meant for other people of the zone I grew up on an attitude of reservation, mistrust and even hatred. Perhaps, because they thought they were superior, or were afraid.

For me, it meant something I wanted to know deeply, and hopefully be able to experience firsthand.

As a little kid, I insisted many times on my wish to be sent abroad on an exchange program or something. But it couldn’t happen then, because of money. And because, truly, they didn’t pay lots of attention to me while I asked that.

-“That’s just a whim that will go away”.

They would say.

I finished high school, and the flame was still alive inside. But the practical possibility of going anywhere was almost zilch.

I mean, I wanted to be a Pilot, and it didn’t even seem that I would get to become an ice cream van Pilot. And that problem was limited only to Medellin at the moment.

Now, travelling? Travelling far away? HA! I could hardly travel between Medellin and Rionegro by public bus, and barely…

And nonetheless, due to a set of circumstances, the possibility was becoming real for me. And I took it immediately, hands-on.

People here were nagging because of their usual fear of the unknown and the foreign, they would say:

-“Aren’t you afraid?”

-“What if you get lost?”

-“How will you communicate?”

-“And the food?”

-“Aaahhh! But are they nice people as we are here?”

And other old wives’ tales. The kind of myth Colombian people like, such as:

-“The second most beautiful anthem in the world”.

And akin senseless mumbojumbo.

As for me, instead of that, I was looking forward to the new and delicious food I was going to taste. I longed for a change of environment.

I didn’t have a lot to hold on to in Colombia at that moment. Barring how I was going to miss my mother and my dogs while I was going to be away, in reality, I had pretty much nothing that tied me here.

Things happened super fast, and one day I told my mother:

–“Mom, I am leaving for Thailand in two weeks”.

–“Alright son”.

And that was that.

A little beam of hope was created, and, perhaps, I could see a dim light at the end of the tunnel of the Pilot’s licence situation.

At least I was going to do something and save some money, looking toward that aim. It was movement forward. As little as that money may have been, and as tall as that mountain still looked from my perspective at that moment.

And thus, this was the start of that start.

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

I arrived in the Airport 2 hours and half before departure time and checked-in without any problem.

I left my suitcase and went for a stroll, and about 45 minutes before departure time I went to emigration. It was crazy as hell, the DAS (Colombian emigration at the time) guy and I had this chat:

-“When did you arrive?”.

-“I live here”.

-“When did you arrive?”.

-“I live here”.

-“When did you arrive?”.

-“I’m telling you I live here!”.

Third was the charm, finally he got it.

While that happened, a cop seized a chocolate bar from another person doing emigration. And then ate it.

All this happened in like two minutes. That was bizarre… and fun at the same time.

I was in the waiting room some 25 minutes before departure. About 5 minutes later, they started boarding.

N920AN, the Boeing 737-800 that was going to take me to Miami that afternoon on flight AA910 looked beautiful.

Flight AA910 was the, by then, American Airlines‘ recently inaugurated second daily flight from Medellin to Miami.

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I made myself comfortable and they finished boarding. As it happened, I was going to have the full row to myself (the three seats, that is). All the better.

We were pushed back, and we started our taxi to the runway 36 of that time.

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We took off, and the flight started uneventfully.

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We continued flying north. We exited the Colombian mainland close to Cartagena, but not above the city.

Cartagena.
What you see there is Cartagena.

Rámirez.

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They served lunch a little time before reaching Jamaica, I chose chicken and it was fine.

People complain a lot about airline food, but it doesn’t taste horrible to me. I guess that’s the good thing about being kind of simpleton in that sense, and not expecting caviar in economy class OK.

Comida a bordo.
Food on board AA910 MDE-MIA.

Rámirez.

The cabin crew was a mix of Argentinians, Chileans and Miami Cubans. Some of them didn’t seem to be in a particularly good mood that day, but it was all good otherwise.

Anyway, I am kind of simpleton on that as well.

As long as they don’t spit in my face, insult me, hit me, nor rape the women in my village. As long as they help me if I need it, within their responsibilities, I consider myself well served by the cabin crew.

Nowadays, they use an online pre-authorisation called ESTA. Back then, those of us that entered the United States under the visa waiver program had to fill a physical green form called I-94W. I filled it while we were flying between Jamaica and Cuba.

I-94W
I-94W visa waiver form.

Rámirez.

I couldn’t see much of these two islands, as they were pretty much full of clouds.

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The descent began after leaving Cuba. Soon, the sea tonality changed from dark blue to clear blue.

Vessels of different sizes, and islets, started to appear.

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AA Boeing 737-800
Over the sea close to Florida.

Rámirez.

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Suddenly, Miami city.

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Tierra Estados Unidos.
Laaaaand United States.

Rámirez.

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Miami.
Over Miami about to land.

Rámirez.

We landed on runway 30 (I think), and then we went to our parking spot.

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On our way, I saw several DHL Boeing 727s. And other very interesting Aeroplanes for me at that moment…

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Like an Iberia Airbus A340-300. I had seen this one many times already in Bogota, though.

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A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600. I had seen little of this one by that moment.

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A Mexicana Airbus A320. Among others.

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Soon, we reached our parking spot.

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Back then, I liked to ask for authorisation to take a photo of the cockpit.

I asked on that flight, and Captain O’Neil had no problem granting my wish. I took the photo as he filled the flight’s documentation.

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Cockpit of N920AN, American Airlines Boeing 737-800 as we reached Miami coming from Medellin, Colombia, thanks to Captain O'Neil.

Rámirez.

I took the photo and hastily made my way out of the Aeroplane.

Still had to do immigration and customs. I was continuing to Washington, and the connection was not totally comfortable.

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

I left the former flight, and quickly made my way to immigration and customs.

There was a huge queue for both things. The immigration one got a little slower because there was an issue with some Asians that didn’t speak English nor Spanish.

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On top of that, they sent me I to the secondary customs screening, behind an old lady that I don’t know where had she come from.

Apparently, she was not travelling, but moving and taking her whole house with her. She may have been Colombian.

Then, I had to run around that Airport to drop the baggage once more.

Miami Airport
Going to one terminal to other in Miami's Airport after arriving.

Rámirez.

Fortunately, this flight was delayed for one hour due to a storm in the city where the Aeroplane was coming from.

It couldn’t leave on time for Miami because of that. Otherwise, it would have been possible that it would have left to Washington without me.

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The Aeroplane was N664AA, a sexy Boeing 757-200 with winglets.

Coincidentally, N664AA was the second American Airlines’ Aeroplane that I had seen in Rionegro, but back then it didn’t have winglets.

The first one was the Boeing 757-200 retro jet that made the very first flight back in 2002. I even got a mug from that event, look at the photo below.

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I sat on my window seat, and again, I had the whole row of three to myself.

That is something good. Because that tale of a beautiful woman sitting on the next seat, and wanting to talk and all that only happens in the films. Or happens to other people.

Miami Airport
Sitting and ready.

Rámirez.

We left exactly one hour after the initially planned time from gate D49 (thankfully… otherwise I wouldn’t have made it).

We took off very swiftly, and climbed in no time at all. A Boeing 757 in the night and at sea level has veeeeery good performance.

Miami Airport
Turning on engines.

Rámirez.

Flight attendants walked by, offering some beverages and selling headphones. There was no free food in this flight, even though at 2 hours and a half it was almost as long as Medellin – Miami.

There wasn’t much service but the flight attendants were kind of happy. And well, I asked for orange juice (Minute Maid, the usual) twice in the 2 hours and a half flight, and nothing else.

Truly, there were no problems with the service (after having already explained my stance on the topic).

We flew through a thunderstorm zone and there was some turbulence, but I was relaxed.

We approached and landed in Dulles, and had to wait a few minutes to get to our parking spot.

While we were waiting, the Aeroplane was obviously static. People began to stand up, thinking we had arrived already to our gate.

Flight attendants made an announcement and told people to please sit, that we hadn’t arrived yet.

This often happens, and it’s always a moment of fun for me.

Miami Airport
Arrived in Washington.

Rámirez.

Once in the Airport, I almost didn’t meet with who was supposed to pick me up.

He would go somewhere else, and when I went there, he would have returned to the first place, and so on. Until we finally met, back then I didn’t have a smart phone or a data plan.

I have no complaints about this flight. Yes, there was a delay, but it was to my benefit.

I had a free day in Washington. And of course, I put it to good use on the things I love.

Namely, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum! Specifically, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center!

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Going to the museum.

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Steven F. Udvar-Hazy is a Hungary born man. He created ILFC, one of the biggest Aeroplane leasing empires, nowadays part of AerCap.

When the last century was about to end, he made a huge donation to the Smithsonian Institution. With it, they built an annex to the National Air and Space Museum.

The main one, located in downtown Washington, was full and couldn’t exhibit all the things it held, due to sheer lack of space.

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Entering.

So, with this donation they built the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center as an annex of that museum. Right on Washington-Dulles Airport.

Among its characteristics, it has an observation tower to see the Airport’s operations. And from the parking lot, good photos of the approaching Aeroplanes can be taken.

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And that free day, I took a stroll around the city.

I even went for a while to Gravelly Point, a delicious park close to one of the thresholds of Washington-Reagan Airport. On the banks of the Potomac river.

The rest of the day I spent on the museum.

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Washington streets.

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Arriving to Washington-Reagan.

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Washington-Reagan control tower.

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Washington-Reagan view from Gravelly Point.

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Washington-Reagan operations from Gravelly Point.

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The Capitol from Gravelly Point, on the other side of the Potomac river.

But anyway, I made my way to the museum. It was incredible to have all those historic Aeroplanes right in front of me.

I knew the history of most because I had read it, or had seen it on a video or documentary. But having them on my nose was a whole different animal.

Smithsonian
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Ramírez.

I was overloaded. There were Aeroplanes such as…

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The Concorde!

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The Boeing 367-80 “Dash-80”, the prototype of the successful and revolutionary Boeing 707.

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The Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress. The one that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

Enola Gay
Enola Gay.

Ramírez.

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The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

SR-71.
Lockheed SR-71.

Ramírez.

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Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-21.

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And the Space Shuttle “Enterprise”, among many very interesting others.

Enterprise
Enterprise.

Ramírez.

You can see below a pair of galleries with more photos of the museum, and the stroll around Washington that day.

When I was leaving the museum, I bought right there a model of a FedEx McDonnell-Douglas MD-11F. I still have it in my room.

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The model I bought there.

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

I arrived in the Airport about 2:15 before departure time and checked-in. In that flight, they were using the auto check-in with passport reading machines.

Two or three employees were there watching in case somebody needed help. It was something novel for me back then.

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Arriving in the Airport. Avianca had started flying to Washington very recently.

Update January 2018: 1. United Airlines stopped flying the Boeing 747 in November 2017. They did it after an uninterrupted 47 years long history flying them, including my humble input to that history.

Some time later, Delta Air Lines did the same. And thus, there is no airline from the United States flying the Boeing 747 on regular passenger flights any more.


2. They took my particular Aeroplane, N198UA, out of the flying line way before. They chopped her in the desert.

When I found out I was sad (because of what it meant in my geekiness), but such is the circle of life Lion King.

The photo can be seen clicking here, but if you are like me, the photo is not proper for you. You will cry and cry, without anyone to comfort you…

I couldn’t choose my seat online, that happens for “security” or when the flight is way oversold. In the machine in the Airport, I wasn’t assigned a seat either.

The agent had to assign it in the gate. That’s to say, the flight was oversold to the bone.

Back then in Dulles they used “mobile lounges”. As the name says, they’re lounges on wheels that transports people between terminals.

It’s the only Airport in which I had experienced anything like it, but I know the system has been used in others. I liked it.

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In the mobile lounge already. In front, another one that was “arriving” can be seen.

In my mobile lounge trip between terminals, I saw a South African Airbus A340-600, an AirTran Boeing 717-200, and a Korean Air Boeing 747-400, among others. Entertainment is what I had.

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AirTran Boeing 717-200.

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South African Airways Airbus A340-600.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400. Around that time, South Korea had just been included in the visa waiver program. That flight was packed.

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TED Airbus A320. It was a kind of low-cost Airline United tried to launch back then.

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Roaming around Dulles in the mobile lounge.

At the time of writing this, there is already an underground train in Dulles to move between terminals. The mobile lounge is still in use for specific cases.

I thought it was the best, as well as the main terminal design made by the Finnish architect Eero Saarinen.

So, I made the whole check-in process and reached the gate. Just to be told that I was shit out of luck, that there wasn’t any window seat now.

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Gate C3.

I wanted to die! How could it be?!

My first ever Boeing 747 flight?
My first flight over the North Pole?

AND THERE WASN’T GOING TO BE A WINDOW SEAT FOR ME?!

It seemed like that, damn it!

I ended up getting the 52G seat, an aisle seat far away from any window.

Anyway, I looked through the window and saw the very beautiful N198UA. The Boeing 747-400 that would take me to Beijing that day on flight UA897.

Dulles
N198UA from the window.

Ramírez.

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That United flight between Washington and Beijing was relatively new.

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Boarding.

We boarded on time and it was all ready.

I was getting comfortable on my bittersweet seat. Then, some guy that was travelling with a study group asked me to switch seats with one of the students in his group, so they would all sit together.

The student was in a seat close to a window, but not the window itself. So, I had no problem.

That would put a little more sugar in the bittersweet combination of that moment.

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Waiting.

Beside me, in the window, there was a 15 years old Chinese boy going to Guangzhou. In the aisle, there was a guy from the United States that loved Harley-Davidson, and was going to Fuzhou.

We had been there for like an hour and it started to get hot, when the Captain said:

-“This is your Captain speaking. We have a problem with some air compressor and the mechanic is taking care of it right now. You should lower the shade because it’s too hot”.

About 10 minutes after that, they told us to disembark quickly.

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Everybody down! The Aeroplane broke…

Once again, we were at gate C3. The flight was showing a two hours delay, which passed fast overall.

I was worried about losing my connection in Beijing, but other than that, I was relaxed.

All in all, it was an airline’s problem, and they would have to take care of whatever happened.

I had to get there, but I didn’t have to get there at any specific hour, nor did I have any specific commitment to get to. I just had to get there, the rest would come in due time.

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Flight UA897 to Beijing, now with a delay of two hours.

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The left wing, as seen from the waiting room.

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A United Boeing 757-200 was moving around…

Dulles
The beautiful.

Ramírez.

Dulles
Map of the terminal close to that gate.

Ramírez.

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Now leaving at 1430.

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RAM/A kindly go get your NO WINDOW seat. Nah, it was all settled as I told you, that system just didn’t update.

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Boarding for the second time.

They called boarding again, and this time around there was no technical issue. We were pushed back exactly two hours late and made our way to the runway.

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We took off after a Cessna Citation X, and a Gulfstream.

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We were in the initial climb. As I saw the Airport getting ever smaller, and as I felt the Boeing 747 landing gear retract, something that had never happened to me before took place.

I had a panic attack of sorts, lasting for two or three seconds. I was thinking:

-“FUUUUUCK! THIS IS GOING TO CHINAA! GET ME OUT OF HERE!”.

Yet another two seconds passed. And right when the landing gear stopped sounding, suddenly, a kind of weird happiness that I hadn’t felt up until that point invaded me. Now my thoughts were:

-“FUUUUCK! THIS IS GOING TO CHINAA! HELL YEAAAAAH!”.

And I stuck with that feeling for the remainder of the flight.

It’s been almost 10 years at the time of writing this since that happened, and I remember it like yesterday.

I think I can even feel it again as I reminisce.

Turning north to get in the way, I had a privileged view of Dulles. And the extension works that were taking place in that moment.

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In the seat forward of mine, there was a mother with her little Chinese boy. The boy wanted to grab my nose at a given moment, but surprisingly, he was very silent during the whole flight.

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At least! 14 hours enduring a crying toddler without being able to do anything was not exactly my idea of fun.

In that moment, the mother asked me what was I going to do in Beijing. I told her I was going to Bangkok, and we spoke for another two or three minutes. Then, the boy calmed down, and I didn’t feel them for the rest of the flight.

On top of that, the Chinese guy that was in the window seat had smelled my Aviation geek suffering before pushing back.

He told me that I was free to take as many photos as I wanted and see whatever I wanted through the window. He simply leaned back.

He was quite thin, so all the better. It was like there was no one there. And so, the flight just got fixed for me.

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The flight route was over Canada, the North Pole, Russia, Mongolia, and then China.

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About one hour after take off they gave us our first meal. Just like the American Airlines one days before, in my simpleton view it wasn’t bad at all.

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First meal of the United 897 flight that day.

Ramírez.

Then it was some noodles. They were fed to the kid that wanted to grab my nose with Chinese sticks by his mother.

Later on, it was a kind of sandwich. Service was fine, particularly from a nice Chinese flight attendant.

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Second meal, the noodles. They also gave us a lemon biscuit that I deemed delicious.

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The kid that wanted to grab my nose, eating.

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Third meal.

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At some point they were showing a Jack Nicholson movie, but I paid no attention to it.

The Chinese guy had practically ceded the window to me. And what I could see through it was much more interesting.

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After some flight hours, we were very relaxed waaaay north of Canada. And after some more time it appeared before me… the North Pole! The extensive snow!

It was one of the most beautiful and spectacular things that I had been able to witness up to that moment.

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At that moment, I stood up from my seat and went to take a little walk around the Aeroplane.

Most people didn’t seem to care at all. Many were fast asleep, others were reading, others had the window shade closed.

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But there were a pair of Chinese girls watching through a window and talking to each other.

They were very excited about what they were just witnessing. I didn’t understand one iota because I don’t speak Chinese, but you could tell.

I wasn’t the only one feeling warm and cheesy things inside due to the white cold in that moment.

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The landscape was very monotonous, but very impressing and powerful. I didn’t bat an eye until it was over!

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United 897
NORTH POLE FUCK YEAAAH!

Ramírez.

The flight kept on, and we were over Russia already.

We entered through the north. And crossed the country north-south exiting through the Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, and Lake Baikal zone.

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Back then I hadn’t gone to Russia, but I had always wanted to.

At the time of writing this I have already gone to Moscow, and places close to it.

But I still want to go to that far away zone I was overflying. And to Kamchatka, Sakhalin, and Siberia. Among many, many others.

It was very exciting for me to be able to see Russia, even if just out of the window of an Aeroplane in flight.

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Russian lands.

Then, I stood up to walk around to avoid getting deep vein thrombosis and all that. There were other people doing the same aft in the Aeroplane.

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I took a pair of extra photos from windows in different sides of the fuselage, the ones just above. I also talked for a while with a Chinese girl.

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By the way, they make a great deal of the Mil Helicopters in Ulan-Ude.

Flying between Russia and Mongolia, they distributed Chinese immigration forms. Since I was just connecting, I didn’t have to fill my form.

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As a matter of fact, if I were to do anything else other than connecting, I would have needed a visa. I didn’t have one for China at that moment.

Later on, they started the descent and approach.

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11280 kilometres, mate!

That’s like the distance from Washington-Dulles, up until the point in which I took that photo. Wuaaaashhh!

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United 897
Descending into Beijing.

Ramírez.

The descent continued, and truly nothing could be seen now.

I didn’t know if it was due to clouds or smog. Thing is, the Aeroplane was being configured to land after almost 14 hours flying.

My buttcrack was all but erased, and I had arse fusion, or “fusionae arsum”, as the doctors call it.

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We arrived at about 16-and-something local time of the day after the one we had taken off at. Ending almost 14 hours of flight.

I couldn’t see much. It was the first time that I experienced the legendary Beijing’s smog. What I had seen approaching was smog indeed, not clouds.

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We arrived in the, back then, recently inaugurated Terminal 3. Dragon shaped, and made to coincide with the 2008 Olympics.

In that moment, my first thought was that definitely we had a long way to go in Colombia! Asians really did know about good Airports.

And to think that I used to be so proud of the José María Córdova (Medellin’s Airport). Eldorado (Bogota’s Airport) in those times couldn’t even compete. Nowadays its terminal is very decent.

Back then it was something else, though.

The Harley-Davidson loving guy that was beside me had drunk 3 beers and was kind of tipsy. He began to clap when we landed.

During the flight, he told me he was going to Fuzhou, and implied he had a girlfriend there, or something.

When disembarking, in the gate there was a sheet of paper with 7 names including mine.

I identified myself to the agent. And when the 7 of us were there, we ran behind the guy to make the connection to Bangkok.
As you may remember, we had a delay leaving Washington. I was about the fourth person of that list to appear.

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People going to Bangkok! Fast!
We were following the guy in white that waited for us in the gate, with the list of names.

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All ready for the 2008 Olympics.

The whole process as VERY quick, including passport stamping and all. I hadn’t properly packed the sunblock, and they seized it.

Back then, the liquids on carry-on rules were kind of recent. It had gone through just fine in Washington, though.

United 897
The red upper left stamp, my first stamp of an asian and really far away country. I couldn't believe my eyes!
Other stamps came later, and their meaning in my life is one of the things I cherish the most, but back then I had no idea I was going to have more.
A few weeks before I wasn't even going to go to Titiribi...

Ramírez.

As soon as they took a look to my carry-on, they extracted the little bottle and said something to me in Chinese that I didn’t understand.

I guess it was something like:

-“Tough luck pal!”

They sounded kind of mad. But nah, Mandarin Chinese can sound like a mad person, but that’s how they normally speak.

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In theory, you graded the attention of the immigration agent with that device. Somehow, I doubt I really got agent “Abc 123”.

Right after that, they threw away the mispacked sunblock bottle. Then, I continued my merry way, amazingly, to yet another Boeing 747-400!

This time around it belonged to Thai Airways, and it would take me to Bangkok, my final destination that day.

More photos of this flight in the gallery below.

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

As I said some paragraphs before ending the former leg, the connection was VERY nimble.

It wasn’t more than 20 minutes since I left the United gate until I was inside the Thai Boeing 747-400. That included photos, walking, sunblock seizing, and passport stamping.

We reached quickly the Thai Airways Boeing 747-400. This time around, flight TG615 was going to be flown by HS-TGX, with classic colours.

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HS-TGX in the gate about to depart. Waiting for the delayed people from Washington.

Back then, the airline was in transition between those colours, and the current purple ones.

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Flight TG615 to Bangkok, in English. It was “boarding”, and we were just arriving.

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Flight TG615 to Bangkok, in Chinese.

I quickly settled in the Aeroplane, and sat in the 40A window seat, this time around totally mine. The middle seat was empty, and in the aisle there was a nice guy from Malaysia.

I left everything ready, put my seat belt on, and watched outside for a while.
There was a Dragonair Airbus A330 parked there.

We were delayed for about 20 minutes, and I heard the Captain saying that there were air traffic control and visibility issues. We were number three for departure.

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The last thing I saw before falling fast asleep.

I had seen maaany Aeroplanes in the Airport. So, I was very happy about us being number 3 for departure, I thought it was going to be quick.

By that moment, I had been awake for about 20 hours, 14 of those on another Boeing 747-400. So, I just made myself comfortable and immediately fell asleep, like an indecent walrus.

I had no complaints about United. Maybe a bit on the leg room department, but anyway, you can’t ask for much in economy class.

I liked the Thai Airways’ Boeing 747-400 interior much more, though. It was more comfortable.

I felt more leg room, but I don’t know if that was true or just an illusion. And the general ambience was nicer.

Back then, the PTV was not a big thing like it is today. That interior with screens every certain number of rows was the rule, specially in economy class.

Now I see these photos and I become very nostalgic, not necessarily because it was better.

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Interior.

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Signs in Thai… I was going to Thailand aeaeaeae!

Thing is, I woke up at a given moment, and I looked outside again. It was the very same scene, the very same Dragonair Airbus A330 right in the same place.

The only difference is that it was dark now, and I became quite disoriented.

I had reached the Aeroplane almost finishing dusk, and it was possible that not a long time had passed during the delay. It could just had turned dark, precisely with the end of dusk.

I had no idea what time it was, nor what was happening.

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The first thing I saw on waking up… the same thing I had seen before falling asleep!

So, I asked the guy from Malaysia that was in the aisle seat:

-“Excuse me. Did I sleep just 15 minutes, or what happened here?”.

He replied:

-“No, we have stood here without moving for about 5 hours”.

I was very surprised because everybody was calmed, no one was arguing. Flight attendants were walking and distributing reading materials and beverages. Just like that.

Had that happened somewhere else, Colombia for example, and someone would be dead already. Or at least a beat up Pilot like what happened once (link in Spanish) on an Avianca McDonnell-Douglas MD-83.

But anyway, we were there. By the way, there wasn’t a single ugly flight attendant in that flight, ahoy!

And indeed, I had effectively slept 5 hours that would have been very boring otherwise.

15 minutes later we were pushed back, and began our taxi to the runway. I had the fortune of waking up right in the correct moment so as to not miss the take off, but also not having had to endure the wait.

We took off.

They came with the food but I didn’t fancy it. It looked very good, but I couldn’t physically take it.

I didn’t want to puke out of gluttony on the Thai Airways Boeing 747-400. So, I said thanks but not thanks, and fell asleep once again.

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I woke up again about 30 minutes before arriving in Bangkok. The flight from Beijing is around 5 hours long. There, I started to fill the immigration form.

We arrived in the relatively new Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Inaugurated to much pomp and circumstance in 2006.

The old one, called Don Mueang, was still operating. It was later closed but Suvarnabhumi got full, so they opened it once again.

Don Mueang is very curious because it has two runways (all normal there). And between the two runways, it has a golf field (all abnormal there).

The golf field is called “Kantarat”, and in the video below it’s clearly seen how it is.

That Airport is still functioning as of September 2018, in conjunction with Suvarnabhumi. In fact, the whole operation of AirAsia was moved to Don Mueang.

As an anecdote I will be able to say when I am very old:

-“Yooooung boy I managed to take off and land in Suvarnabhumi on AirAsia flights”. 

Because there’s none now, and who knows whether they will ever be back.

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Getting out of the Aeroplane.

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Everybody to immigration. It’s two in the morning.

I liked it very much. Some people complain about it because there’s a lot of walking to be made, which is true.

But since it’s lots of walking to be made while watching Aeroplanes, there’s no complaint on my part.

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Immigration.

Thai people say there was corruption and what have you. And there were some structural issues that needed a good deal of money to be fixed, if my memory doesn’t fail me.

But anyway. No problemo as far as I am concerned.

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Flight TG615 from Beijing in English (see the time).

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Flight TG615 from Beijing in Thai (see the time).

Immigration and baggage pick-up was fast. I quickly met with the person that was supposed to pick me up, this time around we didn’t get lost from each other.

TG615
The view reaching immigration. In the background one of the queues for passport control can be seen.

Ramírez.

It was 02:30 in the morning already. We were due to arrive at 21:20 in the preceding night.

TG615
We arrived in Bangkok.

Ramírez.

I had no idea where I was standing, nor what my name was. I didn’t have a buttcrack any more after such a voyage.

It was the well documented “fusionae arsum” as the healthcare pros call it, so I was relaxed.

I was on cloud nine!


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