Saturday, 7 January 2012

Departure Day: Saturday 7th into Sunday 9th January 2012

A Never Ending Flight But The Scenery Was Stunning.

The never ending flight, or so it seemed, despite a strong tailwind giving about a 90 minute advantage on the first leg into Delhi Indira Gandhi Airport. The seats were comfortable with generous leg room, but service was nothing special – no coffee until breakfast time. The meal option was chicken curry or something vegetarian, take it or leave it. Juice or wine just before the meal and water with the meal. By breakfast I was somewhat dehydrated! Oh well, I know what to do if I end up on Jet Airways again, and it’s not take a first class seat, but just take a flask of coffee.

Napping here and there, probably a couple of hours all told. Awoke to daylight and the scene down below was just one of stunning beauty. The mountain ranges of Afghanistan were completely snow covered and went on for miles on end - didn’t spot any troops though.

The final leg into Bangkok was another 3 hours 40 minutes with the flight routing down through Burma. Seating was uncomfortable and leg room was measly this time. Lunch was Juice or water followed by chicken curry or something vegetarian once again. No hot beverage the entire flight! Any contents in my flask would have been cold by now anyway – perhaps I can get something when we land.
Crossing into Thai airspace and soon the extent of the recent flooding was evident – water everywhere, contained mostly in fields but clearly communities are being affected. Got a good view of Bangkok city as the plane flew past the airport towards the coast before turning to follow a Thai Airways Airbus. The sun was setting; the scene below was one of an exotic pinkish glow! I was pleased to be on the ground, just wanted to get off now – as much as I enjoy flying, this was a getting a bit tedious! Getting through immigration was an arduous affair. The queues were long, getting longer, not moving any at appreciable pace and nowhere to get a drink. 90 minutes later, my passport stamped and off to the baggage belt – would my backpack be there and if so, in one piece. Yes, there it was and just as heavy – good.

It was dark, buses to the part of the city I needed had finished (being a Sunday) and I didn’t have anywhere to stay….tune in for the next installment soon

So here I am, in a strange town - It was dark, buses to the part of the city I needed had finished (being a Sunday) and I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I need to get to Khao San Road, a place you could call guest house ally. A little research at the public information desk revealed that a recently opened rail link to downtown gets me halfway to Khao San, but a taxi ride is the only way to finish the journey. Where ever I am in the world I try not to take taxi rides in favor of public transport at every opportunity, but this time I am clearly out of options!

The train station, located underneath the airport terminal, is spotlessly clean. So clean, one can almost see a reflection of themselves on the floor. Waiting along with backpacking Germans, Finns, Dutch, Aussies and the odd American for the City Train – it’s every 15 minutes until late. For Khao San Road, it’s the last station on the line (Phaya Thai), costs 1 pound and takes 17 minutes – now I was feeling more optimistic, less apprehensive and slightly more energetic – perhaps I was beyond that being totally knackered feeling. There’s no orderly line when getting a cab, it’s who can wave the most and shout the loudest! Getting the taxi driver to understand where to go was another challenge as he spoke very little English, but eventually we came to an understanding, and for about 1.10 pounds to finish the journey I wasn’t going to argue.

Firstly, find somewhere to sleep, secondly get a coffee and lastly eat. It all came in relatively quick succession. A 5 minute trek down an ally way revealed guest houses on both sides ranging from 800 to 350 Thai Baht (about 17 – 7 pounds). Greens guest house was clean, TV and aircon, this’ll do for 9 quid. 2 coffees and my first Thai meal – a yellow chicken curry, absolutely exquisite but then I hadn’t had a good meal for about 24 hours! A modest cafĂ©, full of likeminded individuals backpacking around Asia, the bill came in at a hefty 3 pounds and 70p. I forgot to mention the earlier taxi ride came to 67 Baht on the meter, about 1 pound 60p for a further 15 minute ride.

Next, read about how a short, round the block exploration turned into a 6 hour marathon..

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