Trip To Bangkok : Day I

( This post follows from Trip to Bangkok: Prelude. Post II of V chronicling, well, what else? My Trip to Bangkok! )

We stepped into the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi and looked around for the check-in counters. I got my suitcase x-ray'd and then we went to get some bahts, that’s Thai currency, in lieu of some of the rupees we were carrying. We then headed to the counters and got our boarding passes. That’s when we noticed that the flight scheduled departure time was 1015! We'd been planning for 0840! ( After we got back I found out that that flight had been rescheduled because of concerns of delays due to fog. Well, nobody told us! )

We then strolled down to the lounge to try and catch some shut-eye. I'd eaten before leaving because I'd suspected some sort of delay but Freddie had been out to a pub the night before and hadn't slept all night. We spotted a SubWay outlet and he went off to get something to eat. After he'd finished, I felt a bit peckish myself, what with having to watch him devour his sub, so I went and got myself one too. Tummies full, we went to find some seats in quieter spot. We found one that was relatively silent and dragged another set of seats closer and lay down on them as comfortably as we could in that situation. Freddie slept off immediately but I couldn't, being as paranoid as I am, I kept jerking awake to check that our bags weren't being stolen.

Hours passed and finally our flight was announced. We walked through the security check and headed towards our gate where we had to wait for another 40 minutes. When we finally boarded our flight, I noted with some apprehension that it seemed a bit rickety. Settled in our seats, we waited for take-off so we could get back to the pressing business of catching up on lost slumber. As we taxied towards the runway, the left engine, the one next to our seats, started an ominous knocking. Observing closer I realized that the damn thing hadn't started! It was turning over but not catching! I had this funny feeling in my stomach as I considered the implications of making a 2900-odd kilometer journey with only one engine or at best one good engine and one iffy engine. I contemplated cutting short the journey; surviving to talk about a trip to Bangkok that almost happened is better than not quite being there to describe how terrifying the crash into the ocean, during the course of one, was, right? Well, luckily, it started soon after and we soared off into the sky, as gracefully as it is possible for a rattling, aging aircraft to.

The flight was pretty uneventful. We were served beverages and food. I watched a bit of King of Queens and before we knew it, we were there. The Suvarnbhumi Airport looked nice as we taxi’d in to the parking bay. It’s huge and laid out very nicely. Of all the airports I’ve seen ( a meager few though ) I’d rank it second after the Changi International Airport at Singapore. We walked ( ok, stood on travellators ) a pretty good distance to reach the immigration counters. Freddie breezed right through ( Irish passport holders don’t require a visa ) but the lady asked me where my visa was. I told her that I had planned for the visa on arrival. She then directed me to the visa on arrival counter. I rushed there since I didn’t want Freddie to wait too long but I stopped in my tracks when I saw the number of people waiting, predominantly Indian! I got my number in the queue; there were 50 people ahead of me! A 40-minute wait followed during which I read most of my copy of the December issue of Digit. When my turn finally came, I paid the required 1000 baht ( Rs 1250 ) and submitted a photo to get my visa. That done I rushed back to find Freddie. He had been waiting on the other side of the immigration counter on my suitcase, which he’d collected. We walked out to look for a taxi. We found them easily enough.

We told the lady at the pre-paid taxi counter our hotel ( A-One Hotel, Bangkok ) and got into our taxi. The guy drove out of the airport and a few kilometers down the road asked us to confirm our hotel name. We repeated it and he looked lost. He said he didn’t know where it was! I showed him the inadequate map that I’d printed off the net but he couldn’t figure it out. He then kept coasting as he waited for his dispatch to call him back with directions. At this point, I was having serious misgivings about the quality of the hotel. I hadn’t been able to find much info on it on the net. In fact, at first, I couldn’t find anything at all! The travel agent sent me a mail saying we’d be booked into the ‘Avon’ hotel! And that turned up absolutely nothing!

The driver finally found out where it was and we spend on our way. It was tucked away somewhere in the back lanes of the outskirts of Bangkok and my apprehensions were mounting as I surveyed what looked like a wasteland on the approach to the hotel. Once we entered, however, it seemed pretty nice. We went to the counter and presented our voucher and gave $100 as a deposit and sipped on our complementary juices as we waited for our room key. A lift took us up to our room on the 10th floor and the carpet as we stepped out was amazing. It was so deep and soft! And after all those hours of being in our shoes and walking around at the two airports, it felt great! We walked to our room and admired the layout on the approach. It was nice.

Our room was absolutely awesome! The beds were soft and springy, the bathroom was nice, the whole place was done up very tastefully and nicely. Freddie said it was the best room he’d ever stayed in and he’s traveled around a bit so I guess that counts for something. You have to see the pictures to get an idea. We unpacked and put our phones and cameras for charging. Freddie went in for a bath first and took his time in the tub. I watched TV in the meanwhile. Most of the channels were local Thai ones but we also got Star Movies and BBC World so not all was lost. I watched The Librarian while I waited. It was an ok movie.

While I had a bath, Freddie went downstairs and deposited our passports and excess cash ( a phrase that I never thought I’d use! ) in a safe deposit box. We changed into our 3/4ths and t-shirts and left to have a look around town and visit a few places that Freddie’s friend’s girlfriend, who’d just visited Bangkok, had recommended. We caught a taxi at the lobby and asked to be taken to the All Seasons Place. We reached there in about 15 minutes. We looked around the place and since Freddie wanted to go to a club there, we decided to look for a place to have dinner at, first. We walked back to the main road and found the entrance to the Phloen Chit SkyTrain station was the nearest. It was quite nice, very like the Delhi Metro stations. The train runs above the road ( Sigh! Of course! As the name would imply ). The stations are at two levels, the lower one is where the ticket vending machines and the personnel are and the upper one is where the platforms are. There is a guard on every platform to keep you from the crossing the yellow line. Freddie was admonished quite a few times; every single time we took the train, in fact. There are two lines: the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line, you can change them at the Siam station.

We didn’t know quite where to go and we were wondering whom to ask. I spotted a couple that was definitely Indian and I went and asked them were the main downtown area of Bangkok was. They said Siam and so Siam was where we decided to go. We got our tickets and a badly required map of Bangkok, it was drawn from the point of view of the SkyTrain, but very useful nonetheless. ( I’m putting a picture of that too. Because I can! ). We got off at Siam and I was surprised to see that the station opened into the mall itself! As we walked in I noticed a sign with the timings and realized that it was about to close ( it was 2100 )

Almost all the places that we checked with were not taking any new orders. But we finally found Sizzlers and though it looked kinda expensive to me, we went in. Freddie ordered lots of stuff ( he eats a lot, yeah ) and I don’t quite remember what I ordered but it was nice. While we waited for the order, we went to the salad bar and got some munchies. Again, Freddie piled his plate. I ate minimally. :)

After dinner we went back to the station and caught the SkyTrain back to Phloen Chit. We traced our route back to the All Seasons Place and walked in and looked for 87, the club there. This hotel, incidentally, was so much better than ours! It was breathtaking! We found our way down to the club where the guy at the entrance asked me if I was over 20! If you know me you’d know that was a really stupid question to ask. Especially I hadn’t shaved for almost 24 hours now! :D I warmly ( and possibly very convincingly, since he didn’t ask for proof ) confirmed that I was and we went inside. There was a live African-American band performing and they were good. But the bass was just too heavy! I was feeling a little queasy the whole time I was sitting there as it just pounded away without relief, the vibrations running through me.

We sat there for quite a few hours as Freddie kept sipping on a champagne cocktail ( 300+ baht each! ) At the end of it, I was very tired and sleepy and Freddie had a happy, contented glow about his smiling, pink face. We caught a taxi back to our hotel but we got off at a 7/11 some distance before and bought a few bottles of water. We walked the rest of the way back to the hotel. Before we reached, Freddie needed to answer the call of nature so he stepped into the shadows in an alley and emerged with a noticeable spring in his step.

Once we reached back, Freddie had another bath but I was too tired so I just changed and brushed my teeth and flopped into the bed. We wanted to get up in time for the complementary American style breakfast the next morning so Freddie set his alarm for 0830 ( breakfast was 0600 to 1000 ).

After being awake for that many hours, it wasn’t very difficult for me to fall into deep, dreamless sleep almost immediately. It’d have been nice to write that I slept and dreamt off all that I’d seen but nope. I was too tired for that.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Loved reading your account. Am going to Bangkok soon and this will help a lot understanding what lies ahead :)