Monday, June 21, 2010

Ching Mai - Thailand

June 18 – Calcutta over night

On the day of departure to Chiang Mai, a storm is over Bangladesh and Myanmar and seems developing and not going anywhere. The pilots decided to fly from Agra to Calcutta ,the east most point of India and waited the weather out there. We ended up spending a night in Calcutta and take off early morning the next day trying to catch some break in the morning. Fly to Calcutta was not bad, just fly by communications to the radar and control tower until the last minute. Just seconds before run way we see it appears under pouring rain.

June 19 to June 21 - Chiang Mai, Thailand

The fly to Chiang Mai is another story. I don’t know if it is because we were crossing the “Golden Triangle”, we were directed all the way out. We were in cloudy, raining condition most of the 4 hours flight. Mean time, for a good two hours, we cannot get direct communication with Yungoon (Myanmar) control. Communication was done by relay through couple of United airline pilots. Pilots are usually more than happy to help because laps of radio communication could happen to anyone, but still, thank God there are good people out there.

Just to complicate things, after one hour of fly, cabin pressure was not normal. Jeffrey requested to decent 10,000 feet to stabilize the pressure. He suspected icing.

Now, as we are fighting through the weather, with a lower elevation, and being directed a long way, the fuel level was getting low and we are not in Thailand yet. Last thing we want to do is to land at Myanmar where has no AV Gas, and no one we know there to help us. After repeatedly requests for fly direct, the Air controller finally let us fly direct to Chiang Mai. Took a picture of the fuel gage just to remind ourselves of this day.

Turn out it was filter icing that affected the turbo engine. Jeffrey cleaned the filter, test fly the next day in Chiang Mai airport at 21,000 Ft and everything was fine. Then, we can spent the rest of the day to enjoy the Northern Thailand rice farming town. We did the touristy thing on the one day we have in Chiang Mai which was not bad for the first time visitors.

We will fly to Southern Thailand, Krabi nest. One couple of the group are very experienced rock climber and recommended this place. Hope that it is not too “Krabi”.

The thick clouds are indication for systems. Trying to fly around those.

Looking for "blue sky".

Fuel gage at landing.

Way to Chiang Dao elephant camp. Thailand is hard hit by the political situation this summer. Tourism is way down. Many places are running at 20% occupancy. Many time, we are the only table in the whole restaurant. Actually, same situation is middle east. However, bright side for us is that we almost have the whole elephant camp to ourselves.

Get to know the elephants.

Time to take a bath...

or shower...

Elephant that paints.

The painting is US$20.00.

Little tribe gril.

Not so little tribe gril....

A good one and half hour elephant ride in the rain forest and through the river. Actually, pretty special. I enjoyed it. Jeffrey is absent because he was in the airport to check out the airplane and test fly it.

The quiet river and the bamboo rafts.

A bamboo raft takes us down the stream. Inside basket is a picnic lunch prepared by Four Seasons.

Fish Spa. No, these are not my feet.

Little tiger petting. Large titers are available too, but not for me.