Day 2 – 7th December
I was short changed on day 2 of 7 hours, due to the time difference in Thailand. We took off from Heathrow 10 minutes behind schedule at around 9.55pm. I’ve gotta say, even flying economy, I was very well looked after by Qantas. The seats were comfy, plenty of legroom and they provided a pillow, blanket and eyemask. I was tempted to play Zorro but decided at the last moment it may have been inappropriate, everyone seemed tired and might not have appreciated me running up and down the aisles waving my arm in a Z like shape!
The flight itself was pretty uneventful really. The 747 is a beast and the power on take off, immense! It was not long before they brought round a meal with the choice of salmon or beef pie. No prize for guessing that the pie got my vote, mmmmmmm I love the pie! I whiled away the 10 hours 20 minutes with a selection of films including Made in Dagenham (good), Dinner for a schmuck (funny) and Inception (WTF?). Also managed to squeeze in a couple of surfing documentaries I came across in the onboard media centre. I hardly slept, maybe for like 40 minutes, as for all the comfort of the chair I don’t often sleep whilst travelling. I thought the longhaul flight might sort that out, but apparently not!
Textbook touch down in Bangkok and I was soon negotiating through customs. It took around 2 hours of queuing patiently, those guys are very thorough. Not what you need after travelling for over 16 hours! Eventually got through and even had my passport stamped, how exciting!!
Outside the airport I was instantly hit by the searing hit, all 31c of it and it was 6pm at night! My options of getting in to Bangkok consisted of train, bus or taxi. A taxi was 1000bht (£20) whilst the bus, although taking much longer, was 150bht (£3). Simple choice and a very friendly chap sold me my ticket, showed me where the bus was arriving and showed me on my hastily aqcuired map of Bangkok, where I would be dropped off. I showed him the details of my hotel, he’d never heard of it but kindly wrote out the address in Thai on the back of my confirmation. Little did I know how much of a godsend that would be later on!!
I was dropped off by the bus at central tower with the knowledge that my hotel was somewhere within 3km of that area but exactly where was anyone’s guess. I walked around for a while trying to locate myself on the map but with the street names all in Thai and my map in English it was impossible. Literally. After around 30mins I couldn’t resist trying out a tuktuk. New boy travelling mistake number 1! He looked at the map, beckoned me inside with a show of the thumb and we were off. It was a blast, and also very welcome creating a breeze to slightly cool me down. Albeit a breeze choked with pollution. With all the sights, sounds, smells and heat I had geniunely never felt so far away from home. I guess that’s kind of fitting really as I never HAVE been so far away from home!
We arrived at the location, I thanked him, paid him, papped him and he was on his merry way. I went to reception and had my first minor panic, I’d lost my confirmation at somepoint and the receptionist could not speak any English. None of the signs outside said Bangkok Loft Inn, but they were all in Thai so I just assumed it must be ok as the tuktuk driver seemed to know it.
After much gesticulation and writing of names the lady confirmed that I had no booking there. In a moment of desperation I crossed back over the street to where tuktuk man had delivered me and amen, there was my confirmation laying on the pavement!! Man, the relief was instant. All I wanted to do was get in my room, have a shower and sleep.
I went back into the hotel and had it confirmed that this was not the right place, and nor did she know where it was. I then asked 3 or 4 more taxi drivers and tuktuk drivers and no-one knew. This was bad. Very bad. It was almost 10pm and I was exhausted, hot beyond belief and feeling very VERY lost. Eventually, I came across another pack of tuktuks and although not 100% convincing this one chap gave me more confidence than any of the others that he knew where it was. Back on the road in the tuktuk, this time not really enjoying it, until finally the bright lights of Bangkok Loft Inn (www.bangkokloftinn.com) appeared. I could’ve hugged and kissed him, but staying true to my plan to avoid anyone male OR female in Bangkok I simply shook his hand and paid him his fare. I was greeted by a smiling porter who took my backpack and gave me a glass of cold juice, of which the flavour was I am unsure. It was delicious though, and MORE than welcome. The ladies on reception were super friendly and asked if I’d had trouble finding them. I’m assuming that’s because I’m not the first person to experience difficulty and it happens regularly, or maybe it was simply the drained out way I presented myself at the desk!
The hotel is really, REALLY nice. Something I was grateful to my previous self for booking in advance, great job. I hooked up on the wifi pretty much straight away which was both a good and bad move. Good in it was great to talk to those that were online, bad in that I should really have gone straight to sleep and tried to lose the jetlag. Instead I ended up staying awake and amazingly found the Spurs Champions League game being shown live. I won’t forget watching Spurs finish top of their group, and I won’t forget the manner in which I watched it either. Thousands of miles from home, hot and exhausted at 3am in the morning in Bangkok. That’s a new one.
Lessons learned today – Make sure you know the exact location of your next stop, print off a map if neccessary. Never pay tuktuk man his first price. Meter Taxi’s are generally cheaper around town. Keep confirmations in a closed pocket.