Sitting on a plane at 30000ft over Iran, it’s 02:30 in the morning in Istanbul which is the time zone I want my body to be on, and the one this plane runs to. I do most of my writing on planes it seems, and this trip will give me plenty of opportunities.

I’m heading to Istanbul as the first stop on this round-the-world excursion. The first part is to deliver some training courses in Tel Aviv then on to Salt Lake City for the Agile 2011 conference.

My plan is to try using this blog as a travel journal, so I’ll probably take lots of photos and write some stuff about what I see and do.

When I teach the Writing Technical Documents course the first thing I tell the participants is the writer’s mantra – Audience and Purpose: who’s it for and why are you writing this piece. In the spirit of drinking my own Champaign (so much nicer than eating your own dogfood) I should clarify my objectives in writing this:

Audience: this is aimed at my friends, family and acquaintances; those who might be interested in what I’m up to and where I am in the world. I’m a dreadful correspondent and this is a tool to write one letter to lots of people 🙂 If I don’t know you you’re still very welcome to read and comment and I thank you for your attention.

Purpose: to share my experiences and thoughts through this journey. I do a lot of traveling and this is one place where I can record my impressions and provide an index to the jumbled memories that will be in my head after the trip. My longer term intent is to use this blog to keep notes about more of the trips I undertake and share my experiences with you.

So far this trip has been rather pleasant, or as pleasant as long-haul travel can be. I left home at 08:00 on Thursday morning, checked in at Wellington Airport said goodbye to my bags and took the 10:00 Air New Zealand flight to Auckland, which was nicely on time.

In Auckland I checked in with Thai Airways for the Auckland-Bangkok flight, then went through to the Air New Zealand lounge. Thank goodness for airline lounges – they make travel so much more civilized, and thanks SoftEd for paying for Koru Club membership. I managed to get some work done in the lounge and then boarded the plane, to discover that I had a row of 3 seats to myself, luxury. 12 hours ahead of me and I didn’t want to sleep much on that leg as there was another long flight coming after Bangkok.

The flight on the Boeing 777 was uneventful, which is a good thing! I’ve been on some eventful flights and have no desire to repeat the experience (ask me about Swaziland one day over a glass of good wine). The food was quite nice (pork stir fry for the first meal serving, fried rice with shrimps for the second), the crew friendly and helpful, the entertainment system worked (I do most of my movie watching on planes) and I even got some more work done.

We arrived in Bangkok at 20:20 local time, that airport is HUGE! the walk from our arrival gate to the departure gate for the Turkish Airways flight was 1.3km (they put distances on the signs, like a motorway system). A good long walk helps reduce the risk of DVT so I should be glad about that. I had been given a boarding pass in Auckland for the Turkish Airways flight so could go straight to the Singapore Airlines lounge (Star Alliance all the way on this trip) – Gold status means I get to use the lounges on every stop. Time for a shower (it’s amazing how important the little things become), I could connect to the Internet to send the emails I’d drafted on the flight, Skyped with Nancy, had a decent cup of coffee and some very nice nibbles.

At 22:50 I went down to the gate and a very nice lady informed me that since the flight was full they’ve put me in business class – oh, how sad (NOT). Pamper level service – they even have a dedicated chef for business class on the Turkish Airways A340. Lie-flat seat, noise canceling headphone, 23inch video screen and the seat even has a massage mode (which is rubbing my back as I write this). Dinner was shrimp starter, fillet steak main and delicious Turkish deserts, a nice Turkish red wine and some good cheeses. Replete I laid the seat down flat and had four or five hours of good sleep.

An interesting background noise, and something I haven’t heard inside a plane cabin before – one of the passengers has a cat in a carry cage in the cabin with them, it’s not happy about being shut in! Thanks be for noise canceling headphones 🙂 The last trip I was on that had animals on board was Inter Air in Africa (chickens & goats among the passengers).

They’re just waking everyone for breakfast (it took me a whole hour to write this) and we have just under two hours to go.

I’ll publish this entry when I have Internet access, probably in my hotel in Istanbul. I have just on 30 hours there and want to see as much as I can in the short time available, and do some shopping.

Thanks Andy & Nicola for the advice you gave me about things to do and see in Istanbul. The next entry will tell if I manage to achieve what I want to there.