I never tire of gazing upwards. Every sight is different. Stars may be set in well known families and formations, documented on parchment,  yet each viewing of the night sky is different. Clouds and moodily lit skies tell new stories with each breath of air.

The skies remind me that despite our belief otherwise, individually we are tiny and insignificant. Despite what we are doing to the planet as a race, we are almost non existent in the face of the elements.

Recently I was returning from Bangkok from my last round of medical checks, and as always opted to sit in a aisle seat. Those monsoon flights may be short but the rain and attitude-filled skies can be alarming to fly through. Better not to look at those clouds too closely as we fly through them.

My late afternoon flight was approaching Yangon, and I could see that the the cabin was taking on a golden hue.  Appropriate for arrival in the Golden Land.  I glanced across the empty seat beside me past my fellow passenger at the window seat and was immediately captivated by the skyscape outside. There were layers of cloud, and the setting sun reflecting on the waters far below of the Gulf of Martaban, the northern part of the Andaman Sea.

Automatically, my hand was reaching into my bag for my camera to capture the magic in front of my eyes.

Whereupon I came face to face, quite literally, with a bit of a challenge. In the form of the passenger across the empty seat, who was comfortably eating her spicy Thai in flight meal in her window seat. It is impossible to be unobtrusive in these situations, but I did try, leaning over and angling the camera so that I did not capture her shoulders and noodles. She also looked up and snapped some pictures on her phone.

Within a few moments, the scene had changed. The light had altered, the reflection dimmed and the other-wordly scene outside taken on a much more familiar look. By happy coincidence, and the good nature of my fellow passenger, however, I had been able to capture and preserve the sight.

aviation sunset oct 2015

It has been a while since I have changed my background image here, and photograph of that moment provides just the right opportunity to change that right now, and share that moment right now.

In these days when we stare into our phones and devices oblivious to our surroundings, there is a stronger reminder than ever to pause, look upwards and drink in the free, ever changing moving pictures in the skies above us.

Stormy skies

I love sky watching.  I marvel at cloud formations and am spellbound watching them roll across the skyline, contrasting against gentle innocent pale clouds.   We have no shortage of clouds with attitude during the rainy season, yet I do not tire of watching each new formation.

However, while stormcloud watching from the comfort of the ground is a great pastime, preparing to fly in this kind of sky is a different matter.  Rainy season should be coming to an end, but those clouds keep on rolling in and the rain keeps on falling.  So much so that Bangkok is on flood alert.  So flying to Yangon to Bangkok might be a short flight, but it sure can be adventurous in this season.

Travelling here on Saturday, we were delayed leaving Yangon, for nearly an hour.  When we finally departed our plane was buffeted by angry clouds as we ascended.  The seat belt lights stayed illuminated just to forewarn that our flight would be turbulent.

It was therefore, reassuring to finally hear the pilot’s steady voice on the intercom as he made his first in-flight announcement.  As usual this was in Thai, but I can pick out enough words to know that it was not a scary message.  I am good at picking up important clues such as altitude, temperature, flight path, estimated arrival time and arrival airport.  So I was able to relax by the time the announcement started in English.  Imagine my reaction to hear “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, this is Capt W……….”  Yes, his name was the same as my oncologist Dr W2!  There are a number of names which I see fairly frequently in Thailand.  Especially those, ironically with the suffix -porn (Pitiporn, Pukkaporn and the truly amazing Supaporn!)  However, I have yet to see anyone with the same name as Dr W2.  Conclusion?  Either they are brothers or my Dr W2 must be a pilot in his spare time!  At the very least,  I can take comfort in the fact that Dr W2 holds my health in his hands and Capt W2 holds my airborne safety in his hands.  I am indebted!

Now safely in Bangkok, the skies are stormy here too and we have frequent torrential downpours.  Bangkok is bracing for floods.  I am bracing for my encounter with Dr W2 as well as the gamut of tests, procedures appointments and scans.

And the October sky takes on a pink hue as the sun sets on the eve of the Scary Big Annual Check.