I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Wide and long

Yeah. Wide and long. I'm talking about the plane from Istanbul to Bangkok (widebody, long-haul). But first, Istanbul airport.

Like most business class lounges the CIP lounge has separate bits for sitting down to eat, chilling on armchairs, PCs and printers for "working", a creche/kids room, a quiet bit, etc. Unlike most lounges, though, in Istanbul all the different sections are of different designs to one another. I didn't find it particularly jarring, but some do. I couldn't get a space in the comfy chair bit so I was in the more kitchen-barry sit-and-eat/drink part. Which was fine, because much like all my waking hours en route to Sydney, I was eating and drinking. A couple of Efes beers, a lot of frustration with the internet connection, a bunch of pastry goods, and I packed up to go explore the terminal. I was a bit drunk and very angry, pointlessly so, and the wander around outside chilled me out as I forced myself to be less of a cock.

Then I went back to the lounge and got more free alcohol. A mint liqueur, to be precise. Mmmmm.

One of the reasons I took such a circuitous route to Sydney was because I wanted to sample a new airline and a couple of new aircraft. What can I say? I like trying out new bits of comfort, and from what I'd read the Turkish Airlines 77w planes (borrowed from Air India) were supposed to be awesome. They are new, have very fancy seats, great service, but only fly the Bangkok route a few times a week -- and even then they sometimes swap to older planes at a moment's notice. So I crossed my fingers and took solace in the fact that at no point was my seat number shifted (a surefire sign that the plane type has changed) whenever my boarding pass was checked.

Got on the plane and had hit paydirt. The 77W with the awesome seats. With the huge screens and the amazing remote controls and the super-comfort and the just general fucking aceness and win. Christ, I had a thirst on me. The daft cocklike mood from the lounge lifted, replaced briefly with a feeling of remorse for having ever been in it, then that went and I was just back in childlike "this is ace!" and humble "how the fuck do I keep managing to travel like this?" bipolarity.

A bloke who looked like a stereotypical Nepalese Everest sherpar, and who spoke no English, showed me his boarding pass. It had the same seat number as mine on it. He was looking very confused. A flight attendant came along and pointed out to him (eventually) that he was showing a boarding pass from a Helsinki-Istanbul flight (spooky coincidence), not this Istanbul-Bangkok one. He was shunted off, and I relaxed back into my seat.

A chef appeared, and he gave me a Godiva chocolate. Then I got some champagne. Then I played with the controls a bit, noticing the reading light was this crazy little orb/probe thing like something out of a sci-fi/horror movie; I scrawled BUY PHANTASM/II on my pad.

People on planes always associate beeps with the seatbelt signs. After take-off, the first beep always seems to cause lots of people to unbelt and stand-up; the same happens after landing. But those beeps are different, they're the single beeps which always -- through observation -- seem to always mean "crew, do your stuff". And they don't coincide with the seatbelt lights going off, an event which does coincide with a different kind of beep. Why doesn't anyone else notice this? Christ, I can be so anal at times.

A flight attendant gave me some slippers and offered me a paper. Also some toiletries and a choice of magazines. I declined the reading material, and started watching a Korean movie called Blades of Blood. I wrote THIS IS AWESOME in my bad, followed closely by CHEESE AND COGNAC. Think I was in quite a good mood at this point. I also wrote "you crazy bloke", because I thought it was quite a funny line from the subtitles in the film, and then "Stop writing" because, er, the film was subtitled and I was missing too much through writing all these notes.

The first offer of drinks was a choice between orange juice or a cocktail, but both looked the same and I picked the OJ. The attendant gave me a real, er, are you sure? look. Guess I seemed to be the kind of person who likes his alcohol. Not sure how I ever give that impression. No siree.

Fuck, the food service was awesome. A menu with my name written on it was presented; I had to order breakfast in advance, like in a hotel room where you tick boxes and shove it on the door handle outside. I had salmon then soup then ravioli then dessert chosen from a trolley wheeled through the cabin by a chef, who prepared and served the dish on my table. I remembered not being as impressed, mind, as I was with the short-haul meal a few hours previous, but as I write this my memory of the long-haul meal is fonder. Perhaps it was the presentation; definitely as an overall experience it was shit-hot. Especially because it finished off with the aforementioned cheese and cognac.

Watched some Simpsons episodes, then fell asleep for 3 hours or so. I woke up from a nightmare, which was slightly influenced by the swordfighting movie I'd watched before, but mostly it was a normal chase nightmare and it was fucking horrible. I was convinced it was a recurring dream, but that feeling went away within a few minutes of waking up -- like I dreamt that emotion. Fucking odd. Perhaps all this travel and alcohol and exhaustion was getting to me.

Breakfast was OK. The Simpsons episodes were new (2010 vintage) and unseen by me. An episode of National Geographic's World's Toughest Fixes was entertaining. I think this was the first time I'd ever been on a long-haul flight and only watched one film. I broke the screen by stowing it at the end, and had no idea how to be a transit passenger at Bangkok airport.

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