Vietnam 07/2009-Day 16



Day 16
Bangkok Thailand to LAX

July 19, 2009

We're up so early, there's no time for breakfast before leaving for airport. It's too early to even get it in the room, so instead it's boxed to go. Unfortunately, most of it is not edible. Prior to 6 am there is also a coffee cart in the lobby for early risers, but we did not have time to partake. While checking out, we have the front desk check on our JAL flight and the news we get is bad. The first flight is cancelled/delayed until late afternoon which means we would miss our connecting flight home from Tokyo. Over the phone they tell us they are trying to book us on another carrier and to come to airport anyway.

We get a taxi out front and the driver tries to tell us the airport is "very far" and he wants flat rate. "No way, use the meter", we say and he does. We pay for the tolls and at one point, about half way to the airport he pulls over on the expressway on the other side of a toll booth, asking if he can stop. We're both so anxious about getting to the airport and getting on the flight we both say "NO!!" in unison because we can't fathom what he wants. He pulls back onto the expressway and then he tells us he has to go to the bathroom and we feel horrible, but he keeps driving anyway. We feel so bad we give him a generous tip when we arrive.

The airport is in chaos with a planeload of people trying to get re-routed. We get our tickets on Thai, in Business as we had been ticketed on JAL, but they make us check our bags because Thai's carry on rule is very strict. They are checked thru to SFO where we will pick them up and take them on the plane home for the last segment. The flight on Thai is uneventful and we are looking forward to getting to Tokyo so we can take advantage of the JAL lounge for free wifi and food. When we arrive in Tokyo we are met at the gate by JAL agents who are there to walk us all through the airport to make sure everyone with connecting flights gets to the right place. It's a bit confusing, we finally we make it to the right terminal and get our boarding passes for the next flight.

Then we head straight for the JAL lounge. At first, we are disappointed. Where is the food like last time? Then we notice a set of stairs leading up to another area. Score! we have found the food. There is a tasty Korean beef stew and rice along with some miso soup and other offerings. No sushi unfortunately. But there is Japanese beer on tap and it seems to be the most popular choice here. It is also here that I experience the wonders of the technology of a Japanese toilet. I won't go into detail, but let's just say it's very hygienic.

The flight to SFO on JAL in fine until after lunch. For our meal we both select the Japanese offering which is very good and beautifully presented in a series of tiny bowls set into a lacquered box. After the meal, I am trying to get comfortable in my seat and I use the remote to slide the seat forward and down. Unfortunately, I still have my camera at my side and it gets wedged in between the seat back and the hard shell surrounding the seat. Crack! I try to get the camera out and it won't budge. I want the seat to reverse and fumble with the controls.

Finally it moves and I get the camera out and inspect the damage. I turn it on and the screen is a blur of color and looks like a broken window under the plastic. The hard cover of the LCD is not broken, but the screen underneath is. I have no idea how bad the damage is to the rest of the camera, if any and suddenly I am weeping like I've lost my best friend. I'm relieved that this happened at the end of the trip instead of the beginning, but I am still bereft. Once home, it takes over 2 weeks to have it fixed (and that's with bringing the camera to the service center, not shipping) at costs me $179 through Nikon service. Arrival in SFO is easy, we pick up our bags and keep them for carry on to the next flight to LA which is unfortunately delayed by 2+ hours. Finally, more than 24 hours after we have left Bangkok, we are home.



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