Vote Charlie!

Headed to Thailand via China with Yizhen!

Posted at age 25.
Created . Edited .

It’s been a challenging few months. So much so I haven’t gotten a chance to write about my Thailand trip with Yizhen till now (April and May 2014). I’ll postdate this to keep my events lined up, though I hate that kind of thing.

We started talking in September about going on a trip before the end of the year, as that was when we were going to have to part ways as I moved to Japan and he to somewhere undecided for business school. Yizhen came up with a few ideas; I was largely open to anything. We eventually settled on Thailand, which was great for me because it would allow me to get pretty good use of my reward points with my US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa card. I had accumulated enough points for $1000 in airfare, and the Thailand ticket came in at $957.

So I booked the ticket Sept. 26, and we were to leave Friday, Nov. 22, and return Dec. 1. That has to be the furthest in advance I’ve ever booked a trip in my life! Usually I am much more last minute.

For the creepily curious, these are the flight details. Mainly this is for my future reference. :-)

Fri, Nov 22, 2013
  San Francisco International Airport, (SFO) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, (BKK)
  Flight:     Air China Intl Flight 986    (on Boeing 747-400)
  Depart:     01:50 PM, San Francisco, CA (SFO)
  Arrive:     05:55 PM, Beijing, China (PEK)
  1 Stop - change planes in Beijing, (PEK)
  Connection Time:  6   hrs    45 mins
  Flight:     Air China Intl Flight 809    (on Boeing 737-800)
  Depart:     12:40 AM, Red-eye  Beijing, China (PEK)
  Arrive:     05:05 AM,Arrive:     Sun, Nov 24, 2013 Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
Total Travel Time: 24 hrs 15 mins
Sun, Dec 1, 2013
  Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, (BKK) to San Francisco International Airport, (SFO)
  Flight:     Air China Intl Flight 960    (on Boeing 777-200)
  Depart:     07:15 PM, Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
  Arrive:     12:55 AM, Beijing, China (PEK)
  1 Stop - change planes in Beijing, (PEK)
  Connection Time:  15   hrs    5 mins
  Flight:     Air China Intl Flight 985    (on Boeing 747-400)
  Depart:     04:00 PM, Beijing, China (PEK)
  Arrive:     11:20 AM, Next day San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Total Travel Time: 31 hrs 5 mins
Total:                                       $956.70
50,000 POINTS redemption value:  - $956.70
Total payment:                               $0.00
Total redemption for this trip:  50,000 POINTS

October flew by and most of November did as well, and before I knew it, we were off! We planned to take BART to the airport, but almost blew that because I was running a little late and needed to stop at Walgreens for some bandages for my recently surgered butt wound. We made it to Civic Center just in time, got on the train, made it to the airport, and then waited!

We got to sit together on the plane

We got to sit together on the plane

We got to Beijing in the evening with enough time to spare to leave the airport and take a train to Wángfǔ jǐng (王府井) and have some dinner.


Beijing Airport waiting for the express train


Beijing Airport waiting for the express train


Beijing Airport waiting for the express train


Chinese subway station


Chinese subway station. China has the largest population.

We ate at a strange little corridor with these strip mall type restaurants. There weren’t many people eating, but there were a ton of staff standing in the street ready to greet food seekers. We got some kind of soup and dumplings. It tasted pretty good, and I think I had to order a second Diet Coke, like the Westerner I am.

We got some food in Wangfujing at thise somewhat strange little food strip mall thing with a whole bunch of staff waiting to take orders.

We got some food in Wangfujing at thise somewhat strange little food strip mall thing with a whole bunch of staff waiting to take orders.

We walked around more and looked at the shopping areas, largely for tourists, but it seemed like mostly Asians walking around.



I didn’t have the balls to try the live seahorses and scorpions. Poor little guys.


Wangfujing “seafood”… scorpions, seahorses, starfish and weird squished stuff on the bottom

The smog was pretty noticeable. It prevented me from taking photos of anything in the distance, but it apparently wasn’t as bad as it can get. According to an AP wire on, at times you can barely see a few meters in front of you.


Wangfujing, smog and all. It was pretty cold, too.


Yoghurt eggs and candy balls in Wangfujing


It's cold outside, so instead of doors, we use heavy plastic sheets


They have Coca Cola stores in Beijing


I sat down, soon inspiring others to sit on the ground.

Eventually we headed back to the airport, and Yizhen might have napped a bit. I remember taking pictures of him changing in the airport on the benches. There weren’t many people around.


They ought to install couches at the Beijing airport


Free Tibet” alive and well in China

Eventually we made it to Thailand! We landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, according to the tickets. Now I am a little confused because the below photo is labeled as Don Muang Airport. So either I made an error right after the trip or this photo is from later in the trip and the chronology got messed up (probably most likely). :-/

First order of business was getting SIM cards, which was remarkably easy. We found these booths for various phone companies on the way out to the shuttle to take us to Don Muang airport, where we were to catch a flight to Krabi, our final destination. The SIM cards were about $10 for a week or so of unlimited data I think. I can’t remember exactly now.


Yizhen at Don Muang Airport


My first Thai toilet

We made it to Krabi Airport and eventually found the driver the hotel had sent for us. He was a nice middle aged man who seemed to be having some health troubles. He stopped at a gas station to use the restroom along the way, leaving the keys in the ignition.

We got to the hotel, Ananta Burin Resort, a bit early, and the room wasn’t ready yet. So we have them hold our bags, and we went off to explore and get some food.


Cheap street food in Krabi, Thailand


Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand


All over Thailand there are monuments and images of the king

Then we went back to the hotel to check out our room! It was pretty nice, and pretty cheap. I’ll have to ask Yizhen the exact price, but I think it was around $50 a night.

Right away we had trouble finding the towels, and Yizhen made me call the front desk to ask for some to be brought up. Through a confused conversation, I eventually understood the woman was telling me the towels were the swans. See the photo below.


Ananta Burin Resort in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand


Ananta Burin bathroom. I like the simplistic shower design.

So we settled in, eventually got dinner at a nearby cafe place called Black Canyon (แบล็คแคนยอน), and relaxed!