Sunday, October 21, 2007

Monday Oct 15: Cape Town to Bangkok

This is my third red-eye flight. (only two more)

Today's travel schedule
- 4:50 a.m. cab from Cape Town hostel to airport
- 7:00 am filght from Cape Town to Johannesburg (2-hour flight, plus 4 hour lay over)
- 12:55 pm flight from Jo'burg to Hong Kong (13 hour red-eye flight on Cathay Pacific)
- 8:00 am arrive in Hong Kong
- 1:00 flight to Bangkok (5 hour time change from Cape Town, about 12 hours ahead of Boston)

My strategy for this long overnight flight: remain awake for 5 hours on flight and then try to sleep using whatever means possible.

Side note: In the international terminal of Jo'burg airport, I saw my first modern squat toilet. It had the tradional hole in the ground, but the foot rests and floor were all shiney white porcelain. It even had toilet paper. I took a quick look inside the stall but despite the inviting decor, I didn't use it.

- Once again, I managed to bring all my luggage on the plane. I don't trust the airlines to move luggage from point a to point b without losing it, urinating on it, or stealing valuables from it. (After my last long flight my bag had a very familiar amonia-like smell.)
- Strategy: Take a third of my belongings out of my back pack and put them in a white plastic kitchen trash bag. (I brought a bunch of these.) I also wear my windsurfing harness instead of packing it. When I check in, the agent weighs my pack and it not only meets weight restrictions but it looks smaller it normally is. Having my stuff separated out into two bags also makes it easier to find places to stow it in overhead compartments on the plane. The kitchen trash bag also contains a small day pack with stuff I want with me for the flight: a book, sleeping pills, bottle of water, snack, notebook and pen.
- The Cathay agent started to make some noises about the size of my pack but I begged and pleaded and told her I had a tight connection in Hong Kong. She let me slide.
- On the Airbus 340 I was flying on, the overhead bins above the center aisle hold more (110 pounds) than those over the seats in the side aisle. (Though I was seated in a side aisle, I grabbed a spot in the overhead for the center aisle.)

Cathay Pacific: This is more like it
- even in economy, we received free newspapers. (I grabbed International Herald Tribune and Business Day)
- In economy, we all had our own private entertainment consoles (LCD with a selection of movies, TV shows, etc.)
- free head phones
- goody bag: socks, tooth brush with toothpaste
- food: I opted for fish with vegetables. It was a little bland but at least it was somewhat healthy and not buried in fat and salt. For breakfast, I had chicken with Asian noodles, fruit, and yogurt.

Sleep: None
- I tried drugs, alcohol, meditation, to no avail
- I ended up watching 3 movies: Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costener as a serial killer: decent), Die Hard 4 (crap), The Anchorman (Will Ferrell, marginal) and a series of TV comedies (Fraser)

I got in to Hong Kong at 8:00 am

I was slated to take a 2:00 flight to Bangkok, but there was a 9:00 am flight as well. I raced around the airport, found the ticket agent, changed my ticket and was on the plane. (If I had checked my bags, I never would have been able to do this.)

This plane was Boeing 747-400, an ancient piece of crap. Smaller seats, smaller overhead bins.