|...Our preplanning paid off as for the first time since leaving Canada, we both had a great night's sleep to be woken up by Lisette's insistent iPhone alarm an hour before the TokyoAirPorter was to arrive (6am) for the hour drive out to Narita airport. When making our bookings, although co-ordinated on the phone with our travel companions, we managed to book flights leaving at the same time from Tokyo to Bangkok on Thai Airways FROM TWO DIFFERENT AIRPORTS! So we got to see Narita as well.
The driver was waiting for us as we checked out of the Sunroute Shinjuku Hotel and waited while I picked up a couple of coffees for the sunrise drive out to the airport. Tokyo traffic was light at the time of dawn so we made good time out of the city on their immaculate network of highways, thankful that we were going against the building traffic in the other direction. We managed to capture some great pictures of the sunrise, made spectacular by the filter of smog already building up and through gaps in the noise barriers along most of the highway. A couple of minutes after capturing our images, a fog descended that lasted almost all the way to Narita. The approach to the airport terminal was unimpressive but efficient.
We quickly found an information booth attendent who pointed us in the right direction and after an electronic check in, dropped our bags off to go through the security procedures that have become the norm for air travel. The airport was well laid out with clear signage to our gate and nicely appointed with lots of shopping. Since we had an hour to boarding, we decided to avoid the movators and walk beside them instead, putting in a few more steps to make place for our anticipated calories and inaction for the 7.5h flight to Bangkok. The flight duration was a comical topic of discussion as we couldn't understand why the flight from Canada took only double the time to travel quadruple the distance. I think I figured out why.
On boarding, we walked right past our assigned seats, unaccoustomed to getting the premium legroom first row seating in the section. After fighting our way back, we settled in after figuring out the entertainment system which folded out of the armrest, like the table tray. The seats were also full recliners (ie the seat bottom slid forward as you pushed back to give a more comfortable recline. As usual, my vegetarian meal arrived first and I tried, unsuccessfully, to wait for Lisette so that we could eat together. All I had was a stale bun that we found in her luggage from the previour flight to counter the pills I had to take in the morning. The brunch was accompanied by Hieniken's for both of us, and an additional therapeutic glass of red for me and then a well earned nap. I woke up to the next meal of a tomato sandwich snack and coffee with a few hours left on the flight. So instead of getting immersed in a movie, I decided to use the remaining flight time to chronicle our last full day in Tokyo.
We landed in Bangkok to much warmer temperatures of 32C and immediately felt it on disembarkation although the terminal was comfortably air conditioned. We picked up or bags after going through immigration and settled in to wait for the rest of our group to arrive. Fortunately, Lisette spotted them while doing a walk in the baggage area since wifi was spotty and we missed each other's WhatsApp messages. While we waited, I tore off the trousers of my tearaways and packed away my shoes in exchange for slip-ons which I usually use on long flights but are comfortable without socks. We managed to connect with our driver for the harrowing and exhausting 3 hour drive to Huahin which took 4 hours due to heavy traffic almost all the way. Driving on the paved shoulder looks like a routine maneuver to beat traffic with our young driver weaving in and out of lanes like there were no road markings and the 18 wheelers were expected to have good brakes! I captured some nice sunset pictures through the tinted windows of the Toyota HiAce and even caught a bumpy nap before a pit stop at McDonalds a couple of hours into our trip. I opted for a soft serve icecream to beat the heat and my percieved hypoglycemia much to Lisette's disgust.
The rest of the trip was a blur of lights and motion until we abruptly turned nito the Ibis Hotel. I hadn't even noticed that we had left the highway until we got caught up in the downtown Huahin traffic which was tame compared to Bangkok. We checked into our comfortble but spartan rooms and joined Trevor and Rita for a drink and snacks at the bar before retiring to the room in anticipation of the (included) breakfast buffet the next morning.... spoiler alert...we weren't disappointed!