Jet Lag Factor

Old Aug 10th, 2006, 07:30 AM
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Jet Lag Factor

I will be coming into Bangkok from Phoenix, Arizona on Cathay (Economy Class). Trip leaves Arizona 9:00PM on a Monday nite connects in Los Angeles and Hong Kong and finally gets in Bangkok, Wednesday late morning. In Bangkok, I have the Wed I arrive, Thurs, Fri, and then fly out to Chiang Mai on Sat. The longest flight I've ever done before is Phoenix to Athens (with connections), and remember how tired I was doing that. I was originally thinking attempting to hire a guide (possibly Tong if available) for in-Bangkok sites (temples, etc.) on Thurs, and out-Bangkok sites on Fri (River Kwai, etc) leaving arrival Wednesday to recover from flights. Do you experienced travellers think that the Wed is enough time? I have tossed around the idea of attempting to visit in city temples on Thurs without a guide in case I' m still feeling the effects of that long haul over but wonder if I'll get as much out of it. What is your advice, experiences, etc. Remember those of you that fly the long routes often, it might be alot different for those of us who are doing it for the 1st time. All advice and/or opinions requested and respected.
Warm Regards
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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I agree, don't plan anything on Wednesday. Personally, I'd visit Wats on my own on Thursday, and save the guide for Friday. That will give you more flexibility. Will you spend some time in Bangkok on your way out of Thailand?
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Kathie,
Unfortunately, I'll only have a partial day & evening in Bangkok on the last day @ Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. I have done what everyone suggested "NOT" to do & attempt to cram too much into a short period of time. I'll have 3 weeks & during that span will spend time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Samui, Phuket, & then back to Bangkok for last day. Hopefully a taste of all areas will be something that will create a love and longing to visit again & again. Chose 2 beaches (against opinions) since I love the beach although I realize that the Thai beaches probably wont be quite as pretty as some of the ones I've seen. I just love the beach scene, beach bars, and just waling about and looking out at the water.
Kathie - Having very little knowledge of Thailand or its history & culture, do you think someone doing the Wats, etc. on his own will be able to get enough out of them? Oops, Sorry Kathie - the way the last sentence was worded made it seem like I thought you had little knowledge of history or culture, where it was really myself I was referring to. Also - do you think I will be up & running @ 100% by Thursday after just chillin' the Wednesday after arrival?
Thanx for your insight - you are such a valued resource on the board.
Warmest Regards
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Well, you don't have much time. I'd suggest you NOT do the out of Bangkok trip to the river Kwai (unless there is a compelling reason to go there). You will likely not be 100% on Thursday.

If you make that change, then do go with Tong (or whoever) to the Wats on day. If you don't have much background or do much advance reading, teh Wats will be just stimulus overload and you won't get as much out of it.

It does sound like you have over-extended yourself in terms of places you are visiting. The more you can slow down, the more you will enjoy your trip.

I also note that you are visiting both Koh Samui and Phuket, which means you'll very likely be in one of them during rainy season.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 10:51 AM
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Thanx for the advice. Will probably cross out the trip outside Bangkok (Kwai, etc.) then (and do it next time I make it over). Looks like I'll be in tail end of rainy season in Samui & I'll just keep my fingers crossed.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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Good luck - enjoy your trip!
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Oops - Hit reply too soon. It reminds me of an old adage "The worst day of rainy season in Samui is better than the best day of work in Phoenix!". Will probably be running a little crazy 1st part of the trip with Bangkok & Chiang Mai, but then slow down dramatically with beach stays last week & 1/2 in Samui & Phuket. Unfortunately, If you only have one guaranteed opportunity to visit any particular country, you almost have to cram. I am luckier than most of my peers being able to get away for 3 weeks at once. Most of us working stiffs have a difficult time getting any more than one week off at a time. Try exploring the world in once week increments. Anyway - I diverge.
Thanx again for your advice. If I am lucky enough to make it back to Thailand again, I'll get the opportunity to catch some sights outside of Bangkok proper which I'll have to bypass this time.
Warmest Regards
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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kathie is right...stick to bkk only, nothing outside...if you could lay low a bit on thursday morning...stay by pool and then do a full afternoon but an early dinner....friday go great guns..

personally i have always arrived at midnite and take the full next day to lay low and laze by pool and then by the next day i go a bit, but still slowly and then the next day i go great guns...

next time you will listen to us...haha
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Dear Friend,
I have listened so very much. About 3/4 of the bookings on this trip were based upon recommendations from this amazing community. Of course we all need to assert our individuality every once & a while, hence the need to strike out a little on my own. I am only guaranteed this one trip to Thailand, so I wanted to stuff as much life into the trip as possible. With limited vacation & funds, who knows if I'll ever make it back again. I have yet to explore a majority of Europe, South America, Australia, Africa, & the rest of Asia, so I don't know if I'll ever make it back.
Everyone on this site has given such amazing recommendations that I am just attempting to fit them all in. Its funny, back here in the US, 3 weeks seems like such a long time for a vacation, but then once putting the nuts & bolts together, you realize that you need about an additional 3 more weeks to just get the bare basics done of visiting someplace. Of course, then again very few people visit the US and attempt to hit NYC, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas all in such a short period of time.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 12:27 PM
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Wldman - what happened to Minneapolis and our Mall of America?
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Yes, stick to Bangkok as the above have advised.There's lots to do there. Have a great time. Happy Travels!
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 01:02 PM
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Rather than post a stock answer, I'd first ask things like what is your age, what kind of shape are you in, and how well do you sleep on planes? There is a big difference between traveling east and traveling west. Personally, I always go to Asia on overnight flights, as you are doing, rather than on the afternoon flights. I go to sleep right after the dinner trays are picked up and sleep through to breakfast 8-9 hours later. When I land in Asia in the morning, I'm right on schedule and ready to go. I guess my point is that one size does not necessarily fit all. Personally, I don't travel halfway around the world to sit by a pool.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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chiguy, people do respond differntly to jet lag. Some people have terrible problems, others adjust easily. It has nothing to do with what kind of shape you are in. Whether or not you can sleep on a plane does have some effect. Wldman has already told us he was walloped by jet lag on a trip to Europe, which is not as great a time differnce as from Arizona to Bangkok.

I use melatonin and I get in to Bangkok (or Singapore) about midnight. I don't sleep much on the plane, but I am able to go to sleep upon arrival and get up early the next morning. I find I am tired early in the evening for the next couple of days, but I am out and about the first day. I do schedule less than usual, and I usually start with a visit to a spa.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Thanx again for the advice Kathie. I believe I will try melatonin this trip. I think what might have contributed to the jetlag in Greece was that the plane was delayed on Cincy to Paris leg causing me to miss Greece connection. Had to be rebooked on another carrier, had to have luggage retrieved and be picked up in what seemed like the basement of CDG, hop on a bus for another part of the airport and do all this at a sprint or risk missing another connection all after an extremely long day & night travelling from Arizona. When finally arriving in Athens, had to navigate the train system before arriving at hotel where I had to argue for a while with desk clerk before being given the room for which I had paid. It was all a little stressful for my 1st international trip and really tired me out especially due to the fact I am an extremely non-confrontational sort. View of the Parthenon & Acropolis from my balcony were worth it though & I would have done it again in a heartbeat. I have never really thought myself extremely susceptible to jetlag (I'm a 42 yo male in good physical shape, but as we know that really doesn't matter), and travel within US has always come very easily (fall asleep on a moments notice on a plane). I'm hoping an easy day by the pool on Wed with an early dinner & good night sleep will have me up & running by mid-Thurs.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 02:19 PM
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My exeperience is that going from US to BKK, I feel only a little jet lag. Coming back, I feel it for a week or more. It may be that you will not feel too much going there. I would go ahead and try to book Tong and force yourself to get up on Thursday. No matter how tired, there's always a massage and the pool.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 02:55 PM
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We travel between the US east coast and Japan 2 or 3 times a year, and going back to Japan we get right back into the daily routine there, and go to bed early for a week or so and wake up early (like 3 am!). Going to the states, though, takes a lot out of all of us, me most of all. I'm wiped out for at least a week, up half the night, unable to sleep, but dizzy, grumpy and nauseaus by midday. Tried the drug induced sleep route, but that only made me worse...may work for others but not for me.

Anyway, the whole point of this ramble is that you may well find that going to Asia will be OK.

Enjoy your trip. Stay flexible...if you feel wiped out, go ahead and relax, have a nap by the pool, early dinner and movie in the room. It is a vacation after all, and even the best of plans can be changed to suit the moment.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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I was attributing Widman's getting wiped out going to Greece to the fact that he was going East. As Gpanda indicated, a person may experience no let lag whatsoever going to Asia from the US--especially if one is good at sleeping on a plane, and if one is sleeping through an overnight flight. On a day flight, the challenge is one of staying awake during the entire flight. Flying to Asia, overnight and asleep, I have never been jet lagged. Like Gpanda, I suffer for about a week when I return to the US. That experience is independent of flight times and sleeping habits.

I would also suggest that someone in good physical shape would rebound from the stress of travel more quickly and may not require a day by the pool. (But, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.) Rather than relaxing by a pool, might I suggest a couple hours of Thai massage?
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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chiguy, I hope my response didn't seem abrupt. I know the jet lag literature pretty well, as we ran a melatonin study years ago.

People often are more aware of jet lag when they have to do complex tasks or make important decisions, so people often report more jet lag when going home because they are returning to work.

For a few hours time difference, it is true that it is easier to re-set your clock to going to bed later and getting up later as the typical circadian cycle is actually a bit more than 24 hours (there are, of course, individual differences). For large time changes (it's a 14 hour difference for me from Seattle), there is no data to indicate that it is harder to reset one way or the other, as we're talking a 10 hour time change figured one way, 14 hours the other. While sleeping on the plane helps, the effects of jet lag aren't simply due to lack of sleep. They are also due to trying to reset your body clock. You retain your "back at home" cycles for body temperature and attention and concentration even in a new time zone. It typically takes one day per time zone crossed to change your underlying circadian cycle.

For people who are melatonin responders, melatonin can help re-set the circadian cycle more rapidly.

Some people have greater or lesser flexibility in their circadian cycle, and it appears that some people are able to better compensate for the difference between body time and clock time. WHile it might make intuitive sense that someone in "better shape" would be able to compensate better, the research indicates it's not really a factor.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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Since I'm "lecturing" (aren't you sorry you got me started?), here's some info on behavioral things you can do to help re-set your body clock (with or without melatonin).

1. Make suer you get exposure to morning sunlight. If you are staying some place where you can leave the drapes open, that will help you awaken naturally with the sun.

2. Get outside and walk or get some exercise in the sun. (In Bangkok, that will be rather brief, due to the heat, but do it anyway.)

3. After the first couple of days, try to go to bed about the same time each night and get up about the same time each morning. The first day or two you may need to go to bed earlier or sleep a bit later to catch up on sleep. Don't nap.

4. Use alcohol in moderation, as it interferes with the sleep cycle. (You may fall asleep more quickly, but you'll have more disturbed sleep, more night time awakenings and less deep sleep.)
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 06:45 PM
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Kathie:

You had me till # 4

Aloha!
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