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Trip Report Bangkok, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang--Notes from the Road

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Greetings from the ANA lounge at Haneda Airport. Since we didn’t expect to be here and have a few hours to kill, we thought we’d start our trip report from the road. We’re supposed to have Internet access everywhere, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep it updated throughout.

For the next 10 days, we will be visiting Bangkok (1 night…sort of, see below), Siem Reap (4 nights), Luang Prabang (3 nights), and Bangkok again (2 nights). We know, not enough time. But we are squeezing this in before DD has to be back for second semester on January 23, and we’ll take what we can get. Mr_go and I have been to Bangkok once before.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/who-says-you-cant-travel-all-the-way-to-bangkok-for-just-five-days-trip-report-by-mrms-go.cfm

Prelude (just because we didn’t expect there to be one)

From our experience, 90 percent of international travel goes pretty smoothly and really is something to behold. It’s amazing to think that you can walk out your door and be somewhere half way around the world in less than a day. But all it takes is one little thing, and the whole house of cards comes crumbling down.

When we boarded our United flight at ORD yesterday, everything seemed that it would go like clockwork. But as departure time arrived, the pilots suddenly discovered a problem of some sort in the cockpit. A steady stream of mechanics paraded through the upper deck and eventually fixed the problem, but not until we were delayed about 2.5 hours…ironically almost exactly the amount of time we had to connect at Narita.

Would they hold our flight, we wondered? At least half the passengers on the upper deck from Chicago to Narita were headed to Bangkok, and we figured there must be many more. We didn’t get our answer until we arrived in Tokyo and watched a 777 at the next gate pushing back as we pulled in. Imagine that… after a 12.5-hour flight, 42 passengers all hoping to make that same connection watched helplessly as the plane they wanted passed a mere 200 yards aportside. The panic started to set in. There aren’t too many options for getting to Bangkok, and we were only supposed to be there until tomorrow afternoon, when we have a separate reservation on Bangkok Air to Siem Reap. We bolted from the plane hoping to get to a CSR quickly and try to get on the continuing flight to Singapore and then a connection back to Bangkok in the morning.

Fortunately, the United staff at Narita had this all figured out—I guess they did have about 12 hours to work on it. They rebooked all 40+ Bangkok passengers on Thai and ANA flights out of Haneda departing just after midnight and had e-tickets waiting for us at a table just after we deplaned. They passed out immigration and customs forms to all these people who didn’t expect to be entering Japan. Then, they chartered a couple of buses to bring us over here. So here we are… We will lose the upgrades we had for NRT-BKK on United (and, darn, when we checked in at ORD we found out that the flight had been switched to “new” business seats), but we are happy to continue on without having to alter the rest of our plans. We’ll keep our room at the Peninsula for "tonight," but will now only have it for about six hours. At least we know the showers are nice and the breakfast will be great!

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