As Kevin Bloody Wilson once said; “everything that could go did go wrong”. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I’ve had much less stressful journeys than the one that got me to Bangkok.
I arrived at Manchester Airport feeling all prepared for the first time in my life and my smugness was well and truly shot down within the first 10 minutes of being there. My plan was to arrive in Thailand, get issued with a 30 day visa on arrival and see where I ended up after that. The girl at the check in desk had a different plan. The conversation went a little like this:
Check in girl: Have you got a return flight?”
Me: “No, I’m travelling around Asia for a bit and not sure where I’m going after Thailand.”
Check in girl: “Well I can’t check you in without a flight out of Thailand too.”
At this point, her team leader came over and basically said I need to book another flight out of Thailand or I wouldn’t get issued a visa on arrival. As an aside, this women was the mardiest woman I have ever had the misfortune of meeting; guess what love, it’s 6am for both of us you know.
Instead of wasting any more time I booked the cheapest flight I could find on my phone. Turns out it’s pretty cheap to fly to Ho Chi Minh City from Bangkok. After a wild goose chase around the airport terminals looking for a working printer (£1 a sheet – rip off) I finally checked in and settled down with a bacon butty and a pint. You can take the boy out of England…
I got on my first flight from Manchester to Amsterdam and took my seat next to an elderly African couple. The aircraft was about as hot as the sun but the bloke kept his tweed jacket and flatcap on at all times. Maybe at that age you don’t feel the heat as much. Either way I was sweating like mad. Amazingly though, his wife’s behaviour was even crazier.
As soon as the plane took off she started singing to herself at a level that was much louder than what I’d class as socially acceptable and, minus a few breaks carried on until the plane touched down an hour later. Thank god for headphones – Eels to the rescue!
The flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I passed the time with three movies; Gravity, Captain Phillips and Bad Grandpa, all of which were pretty good. I also managed to spill a dessert over the very understanding Dutch guy next to me and was served frozen beer. Can’t win them all I guess.
I finally arrived in Bangkok around 7am local time after a 14 hour journey and around one hour of sleep. I passed through immigration without a hiccup and was given my 30 day visa stamp with no mention of an ongoing flight, so that’s 40 notes pissed up the wall thanks to that miserable cow in Manchester. After a taxi ride to the hostel I dropped my bags off and decided to make some plans. I got talking to a couple of Canadian guys in the lobby and we headed out to explore the city.
The day essentially consisted of lots of temples, boat rides, street food (including a dried scorpion…not as bad as it sounds!) and beer. It was awesome. I definitely recommend checking out the Reclining Buddha if you’re in Bangkok.
However it just couldn’t go without a hiccup. I’d forgotten to wear a belt with my jeans (the only pair I brought) and they were hanging off me – so much for me thinking my recently acquired beer belly would keep them up. One too many steep steps later I heard the noise no one ever wants to hear. My one pair of trousers had split at the crotch. Unbelievable. I was walking round a sacred Buddhist temple with my moustache patterned boxers on show. Classy as ever.
Later at night (after a trouser shopping trip) we went up to Khao San Road, Bangkok’s main party area, and looked for a bar showing the Olympic ice hockey final. We must have checked at least 10 bars before we found a little Canadian (of course) bar showing it. By about 10.30pm my lack of sleep was catching up on me and I called it a night. My first (very long) day in Bangkok came to an end and I’d loved it. So far, so good!