Monday Morning

November 17th, 2008 by rdm
Juha Hautakangas

Juha Hautakangas

It is 5:30am in Bangkok and in a couple of hours I will be walking over to Kasetsart University and the GFIS workshop will begin.

It seems strange to do a workshop before we (Juha and I) have spoken with the participants and planned to make the time as productive as possible.  However we have done the best we could in preparing for the meeting and I suppose the time following the workshop, when we are working with the Webmasters, will be the most useful.

On a personal level, I got a whopping 4 hours of sleep last night.  w00-h00!  That makes for a total of around 9 hours since I have been in country.  At the moment I actually feel pretty good.  Amazingly good.  Not sure if I will feel the same in 12 hours but for the moment I am ready to take on the world!  Or at least a GFIS workshop.

Off to have breakfast, find Juha, and walk over to Kasetsart!

Juha, Ho Sang, and Preparing for the Workshop

November 16th, 2008 by rdm

I finally meet Juha this afternoon.  After months of Skyping we saw each other in the hotel as he was going down to the lobby to buy more Internet access (that’s right – we have to pay for Internet access) and I was going out for a walk around the neighborhood.  BTW, the neighborhood is not that exciting, it is mostly a residential area around the university.

At 4pm Juha and I are going to go in search of Ho Sang and the rest of the IUFRO/GFIS folks.  Maybe we’ll even have some time to prepare for the workshop in  the morning.

One last thing – it is November 16 and it is HOT here!  86 degrees!  Wonder if I can wear shorts tomorrow…..  ;-)

The Teachings of Buddha and Barefoot Maids

November 16th, 2008 by rdm
The Teaching of Buddha

The Teaching of Buddha

One other note, the Gideon Society is not as big here as in the States.  The bedside reading is “The Teaching of Buddha”.  Maybe I will learn something.

As I write these posts I had the maid service come by and do a very through cleaning of my room.  (I had not idea that it neded such scrubbing after all I have only been here a few hours.)  Anyway it seems a little unusual to me but aparently the maids in the hotel seem to prefer to go barefoot.  I dunno why this is, or why it seems odd to me but it is just something I don’t normally see when I stay at the Hampton Inn

Sunday Morning in Bangkok

November 16th, 2008 by rdm

Arriving in BKK was uneventful and I was VERY pleasantly surprised to see that my luggage made the trip with me!  It is always good to go smoothly through customs and exchange cash into the local currency.  I should have used at ATM instead of brining cash so that I could have gotten a better exchange rate but live and learn.

A good decision I made before the trip was arranging to have a hotel shuttle pick me up at the airport.  Even though I was not as tired as I thought I might be, I am glad I did not have to battle/negotiate with taxi drivers as a way to get me to the my hotel.

Last night I was able to sleep a few hours, not as much sleep as I needed but it was some rest nonetheless.

This morning I had breakfast at the hotel.  I love Asian breakfasts – rice, soup, mixed vegetables along with VERY strong coffee followed by fresh tropic fruit.  Ahh……  Following breakfast I took a short walk around the neighborhood.  Not much to see in the neighborhood at 8am on Sunday morning but at least I am getting oriented.

Well, time to have more coffee, try to contact Juha and Ho Sang and start preparing for tomorrow morning!

My Window on the World

My Window on the World

My View of Bangkok

My View of Bangkok

Airplane Blogging

November 16th, 2008 by rdm
Somewhere over Canada

After boarding the new plane to Tokyo I was exhausted and fell asleep.  This was a good thing because we spent another 1.5 hours on the tarmac before finally going wheels up at 4:30pm.  Ugh….

Soon after we were airborne it became likely that I would not make my connecting flight in Tokyo and I assumed that would have to spend a night, or at least a few hours, in Japan.  However after about 10 hours in the air I spoke with the cabin stewards and learned that the flight to BKK would be held at the gate because there so many of us on the plane wanting to make the connecting flight.  Since NWA only has one flight per day from NRI to BKK it seems worth delaying the other plane to make sure everyone makes their connection

Besides having to dash across NRI another downside of leaving so late is that we fell behind the shadow of the sun and we are flying in darkness.  As I write this post at 10pm I have just crossed the border between the Yukon and Alaska and just wish I could see the land and ice below.

Would seeing Alaska make me happy? You betcha! </sarah palin>

Since it is now noon in Tokyo I have decided to stay awake as long as I can to try to adjust to the new timezones.  Let’s hope this works better than my last trip to Asia!


Wating to Leave DTW

November 15th, 2008 by rdm
Detroit Airport

Detroit Airport

My flight from Detroit to Tokyo is delayed as the maintenance crew tries to close a cargo door. I’m fine waiting, that seems important!
As I look at the sunlight patterns over Earth it appears that i’ll be in daylight for well over 24 hours until I see sunset in Japan.
Also, a young lady called “Magibon” is sitting behind me on the plane. I don’t know who she is but all the 20-somethings on the plane think that she is a big deal. Apparently she does a lot of things on YouTube and she is being flown to Japan for some sort of YouTube event. I’ll have to google this later.
Well, time to take a nap, more later.

Update: The plane was not able to be repaired so we are changing to a new aircraft.  Dunno when i am leaving (2:30-3:00pm?) and if I will be able to make my connecting flight in Tokyo.  Could be an interesting night!

Take me to the Pilot

November 14th, 2008 by rdm

Almost time to board my first flight of the day and so far so good.  I spent the night in Charlotte with David Ramsey and his family and had great night’s rest.  This morning David had made coffee for me and on the way to the airport the first song I heard on the radio was “Take me to the Pilot” by Elton John.  Nice.  :-)


Take me to the pilot
Lead me through the chamber
Take me to the pilot
I am but a stranger

Hopefully this is a sign of the start of a great trip!

I’ll blog in Detroit if I have time and able to hop on a free Wi-Fi.

Charlotte Airport

Charlotte Airport

Leaving AVL

November 14th, 2008 by rdm

Sunset at my back as I leave Asheville and make my way towards Charlotte to spend the night before catching my first flight on Friday morning. Yes, I’m blogging from my phone as I drive down I-40. :-)

I have lots to do in ordered to be prepared for the workshop on Monday, maybe the 30+ hours of travel will be productive. If not, I hope to get some much needed sleep!

Two Days ’til Departure

November 9th, 2008 by admin
United States Passport

United States Passport

After a few years with the Forest Service you would think that I would be accustom to incomplete and vague travel arrangements.  However trying to get approval and work through the details of travel arrangements for this trip has been more “challenging” than anything previous.    It was less than a week before I was suppose to depart that I finally got my passport, visa, and clearance cable for this trip.  (Clearance cables are necessary when traveling on an official passport.)

Luckily everything seems to have worked out fine with travel to Bangkok.  One positive thing from this delay is that I was able to get a MUCH less expensive ticket by waiting so long to book my flights.  I will be traveling roundtrip from CLT to BKK for less than $1,200!

Now I just need to make sure that I have a hotel room reserved….  ;-)