(Welcome to Bangkok! My cabbie tries to sell me a woman. I’d been in Thailand for less than an hour!)

Adelaide to Bangkok

Had a birthday brekky with Matt, his parents, Amanda and (eventually) Adam. Had Eggs Benedict which was rather smashing! Everyone was pretty mellow; the time of day (ie. it was morning) probably had something to do with that! Mum came to collect me so we all made our way down to the airport.

Singapore Airlines were cracking down on people taking too much hand luggage – their one piece/seven kilo limit was being enforced so I had to do some hasty repacking to get under the limit. All a bit strange when my checked bag was really light – you think logic would prevail and the combined weight would be assessed. Nyah. The staff were friendly even though the queue was long and big dorks like me were messing about.

Said farewells (fond and long – hardly long enough) and joined the queue for emigration. That’s when the fun started.

There were a couple of young Chinese girls in the line who obviously didn’t speak much English at all – but also weren’t exactly clued into their surroundings. They didn’t fill out the departure card (despite large TV messages telling everyone to do so), so they were sent back to fill one out. The counter staff who dealt with them stood up and told everyone to make sure they all had one. She had that tired air of someone who has to say that kind of thing more than once a day. Pretty much everyone else stared back at her with the bored looks of people who already knew. Ah, beaureacracy… is there no sould you can sap the life from!

Later in the lineup to get on board the same girls tried to board when it wasn’t their turn, leading to more tired-sounding raised voices from the check-in staff. There were some rather bemused/vacant looks from the girls as they made their ways back to the back of the line again. I swear I saw blonde roots.

The flight itself was OK. The food was fine as usual (Singapore have really got their act together) but the flight was the bumpiest I’d ever been on – including one that flew around a typhoon. Didn’t sleep at all as a result. The in-flight TV also started messing around half way through “Casino” so I couldn’t finish watching it. Frustrating…

I wandered around Singapore Airport for an hour or so. I wasn’t really interested in buying anything but ended up getting some stuff in the chemists for dealing with the scores of flying blood-sucking insects I was expecting in Bangkok. The flight to Bangkok was mostly empty – I had a row to myself – but it was only two hours so no sleep once again.

There were a couple of tense moments in the new airport.

The airport looked a little like the mother ship from ‘Close Encounters…’ as we pulled up to it. I could see four planes lined up to land behind us as we taxied in. Great – hordes of tourists descending to clog things up. I had to be quick.

The interior of the airport was spacious, but rather drab. There was a lot of steel around the place – underfoot as well as overhead. It was a bit too sparse and unwelcoming for my liking – despite (or because of) the huge Thai style statues guarding the entrance to passport control.

Once there I had to produce my boarding pass – which I couldn’t! I must’ve left it on the plane! The fellow looked me up and down and after a couple of minutes of questions from him and apologies from me he stamped my passport and let me through. I had to wait quite a time for my bag to appear on the carousel, by which time some of the people from the other flights were starting to apppear. But eventually all was well. I was waved through customs and went through the doors to the outside world.

Emerging from the customs area to the arrivals hall was like going from serenity to chaos. There were all manner of signs being held up to greet various passengers from hotels, resorts, taxi and limousine companies and the like. I ignored the line of touts as I made a beeline for the currency exchange counter.

The fellow behind the counter was quite a character – more interested in singing karaoke along to the radio than changing my money! Lots of smiles and he was helpful, but I wasn’t in the mood for clowning around – I just wanted to get to the hotel. That’s probably why I did what I did next.

A tout came up to me and said “Do you want a taxi?”. I should’ve said “No” and just moved on to the outside where the proper yellow-jacketed metered taxis were lined up, but instead I just glanced at her pastel yellow jacket and said “Sure”. She took me to another rank but I was too stuffed to say anything by this point.

The cabbie was good value though. He tried to sell me a woman within five minutes of leaving the airport! (Thai cliche #1 fulfilled) I asked him to teach me a little Thai language to get started – just five phrases to get started – hello, thankyou, yes, no and how much. That was a bit of fun. His English was passable but not great.

The road into Bangkok from the airport was wide and clear for most of the journey. There was quite a jam going back the other way – typical for Friday night according to my driver. There were some interesting traffic events going along our part of the road eventually, including a taxi u-turning right in front of oncoming traffic – “Not a good driver,” said mine, and two buses clogging up the road as they tried to pull out from a hotel simultaneously.

There is absolutely no waiting for anyone or letting anyone pull in front of you in Thailand. He who hesistates probably gets stuck for days.

Thai architecture seems to be quite neo-colonial in style. The frontages of older buildings have small balconies at almost every window, whether the building is for accomodation or not. It’s similar to what I know of the French Riviera, but less well kept. There were street stalls all through Bangkok along the main roads.

He dropped me off right outside the Majestic Suites, which is slam bang in the middle of Sukhumvit, one of the big nightlife centres of Bangkok. The check-in process was easy and quick. They gave me vouchers for breakfast and the key. There was no help getting the bags up to my floor or showing me how to use the room key. I had to work it out as well as explore the room by myself. I found the safety box and it was easy to use. There was more than enough room for everything – including my little PC. Good.

I bought a few supplies for tomorrow from the pharmacy which was conveniently located next to the hotel as well as some stuff from a nearby supermarket (called ‘Foodland’ – but not the might South Aussies). My little bag of things for the children’s home was now full and rather heavy – perfect.

I checked out some of the streetside stalls on the way back for ideas (I found my Genuine Fake Rolex Watch … quite a few actually!) and avoided the calls from the ladies and ‘ladies’ of the night. There were a LOT of lady-boys on the street near my hotel. Well, that’s what you get for being centrally located, I guess!

I was buggered by now so it was time to go to bed.

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