My Pride, My Thai part 2: The Flight

To read the first part: My Pride, My Thai part 1: The Preparation (opens in a new tab). 

The last night before flying to Thailand was timed almost down to each single minute. I would be at work until it was nearly time to head for the airport the following morning. I barely managed to squeeze in a trip to go home, park my car and pick up my nearly empty suitcases.


Things then happened fast... I was picked up at home by a pre-ordered taxi and whisked away to the airport. There was some deliberation on how to get to the airport, and the easiest and cheapest way by far, was ordering my own Airport Shuttle Taxi. 

Arriving at the airport, I noticed that I was already dead tired, but far too excited to truly feel the lack of sleep last night. An iced coffee and a SMILE chocolate would be my last meal in Trondheim, while at Oslo, the final meal in Norway would be a traditional plate of delicious waffles with strawberry jam and another cup of coffee. 

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After passing through the temptations at the duty free shop, the stroll to the gate felt like the best feeling in the world: the biggest adventure of the year was about to begin. This is probably the best feeling in the world, and in sharp contrast to arriving back on Norwegian land after a vacation. I’m confident most of you have had this feeling: when signing off a cruise ship after a long contract going home, or that day when you are going to somewhere nice for vacation. 

The aircraft which was going to take me the long way to Bangkok this day was a Boeing 777-300 with callsign HS-TKX คุณ สุธรรมา, which I do believe refers to the only Sanskrit language newspaper in the world. The aircraft is almost brand new, delivered just 5 months earlier to Thai Airways (on January 20th 2015). Despite the only 5 months old aircraft, I still  wished for something more special, like a Dreamliner or a even an A380 (though, that would be very unlikely on the  Oslo-route - ever). 

Right on time, the aircraft lifted off from Oslo, and before I managed to go through the extencive movie-selection, we had left Norwegian airspace. The flight was nearly empty, only 78 passengers on board, divided into three classes, and attended to by 18 crew members. The flight was smooth as silk, and the staff on this particular flight was nothing but absolutely amazing in every possible way of the word. They kept sharing that world-famous Thai smile throughout the entire flight! 

After a handful hours, which would be in the middle of the night, I abruptly woke up, and looked through the pitch black darkness outside, and below, the aircraft. There was a full moon, or somewhere near a full moon, casting a dim light on the surrounding mountain-chains and landscapes. The ground was for the most part pitch black with the exception of one large congregation of lights, obviously a city with its street lights and a other lights… This is a view I can keep looking at for hours and hours, thinking about all the people on the ground below. The view outside was quite magical and bordering surreal as we passed above this unknown city at 40.000 feet, at more than 1029 km’t. It was like I was in a hurry to come… I was on the way, and I was coming nearly as fast as the speed of sound. 

Knowing one of the senior pilots of the flight, I knew he was off duty, and asked the stewardess if she knew if he was sleeping. A few minutes later he dropped by to "say hello" and check that I was enjoying my flight... he had actually stopped by a little earlier, but the red wine had then taken its toll on me and I was dead asleep. He sat down for a while, promising me that he could only stay for a minute or two. My first question was off course, where are we right now, and what city did I just see down right under us... His reply made it even more surreal: Kabul, Afghanistan. We had just cruised 40.000 feet above Kabul. What a tremendous cultural difference: here we are, in a thin metallic tube flying above a war-torn country. I guess I can now say that I have ALMOST been to Kabul and to Afghanistan, just 12.2 kilometers from Kabul. 

The rest of the flight was just as amazing: there was no way I could possibly finish all the movies in the on board entertainment system. The food was brilliant: normally, I never finish everything served on the plate, but on this flight, I finished it all, and even asked for a second serving. My wine glass was full for the most part, and I had difficulties in keeping the glass empty for any extended time. I also managed to get some very comfortable sleep. 

The best part is when preparations to land is about to start: passing over the Ayeyarwaddy delta and closing in on the Thai airspace. Flights from Scandinavia (and Europe), normally enters Thailand around Sangkhlaburi, followed by Kanchanaburi. I could not see anything though: it was still dark outside, and the time was just 5 in the morning local time. 

Flying over Kanchanaburi, I also spent some time thinking about the 213 passengers and 10 crew, which lost their life in the deadliest aircrash in Thailand, back on 26th of May 1991. 

Lauda Air Flight 004 was an international passenger flight operated by a Boeing 767-300ER that crashed on 26 May 1991 due to an uncommanded thrust reverser deployment of the No.1 engine in mid-flight, killing all 213 passengers and the 10 crew members on board. To date, it remains the deadliest aviation accident involving a Boeing 767 and the deadliest on Thai soil. The crash also marked the aircraft type's first fatal incident and first hull-loss.

Then, the final warning to raise my seatback and stow away my tray table was announced, and I felt like I was just on the doorstep and about to release a bunch of butterflies from my stomach. The landing was trademark Thai Airways: perfectly smooth as silk. I hardly did not notice the wheels touching the ground: all the professional work of my pilot friend. (As he said on the phone a few days later, it would be the worst time for him to mess up the landing when I was on board… oh, he is just so funny!) 

In closing, welcome back soon again to my Captains bLOG for the continuation of the story. 

Bangkok below: nearly time to release all those butterflies I have. 

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