Bang Phra Airfield
Closest private flying airfield to Bangkok that I could find is one at a place called Bang phra. Thankfully, their website gives direction and a how to get there on public bus section. I need to get to Bangkok Ekkami bus terminal, it's where most longer distance bus journeys start and finish. Best way to get here then, avoiding loads of walking and unreliable local buses is to take the River Express Boat south to Central Pier (15 b). Weather is forecast to be the hottest yet and yes, it's only 8am and already quite sticky. A brief respite as the boat heads off for Central. A few steps from the Central Pier is the Sky Train. Studying the line diagrams is actually easier than trying to understand and figure the London underground system, since there are only 2 lines. 40 b and change once to get to Ekkamki. Feed the ticket machine, but only after selecting the value of the journey, otherwise nothing will happen!
At Ekkami and back along the line slightly to find the bus depot. Each bus route has a separate ticket counter looking around initially. According to my information I need to get the bus going to Siriachi and let the officials know I want to get off at Bang Phra. I can see the Siriachi counter alright but when I mention Bang phra, it's a rather blank look. A few moments and the lady points. "No, not Bang phe, Bang phra", I explain, without success. Thankfully a local comes to the rescue, and after an exchange of words in Thai, I wait in line for my ticket. 8.55am, 88 b and the bus go's at 9. Bus 19, no, its stand 19!
Rolling out dead on 9 down the Sukhumivit road and on through Bangkok's southeastern suburbs. An urban sprawl consisting of a few housing blocks but mostly rundown terraces in some rather ominous looking neighbourhoods. Smarter districts too with new house estates much like British council estates. Industrialisation gives way to greenery and wetlands as the bus picks up speed along the elevated motorway. Spotted some of those out of town shopping or retail parks the British and Americans love so much, even noticed a couple of Tesco supermarkets among other big brands such as Ikea.
The motorway ends as another city begins and the journey slows considerably. Another Tesco, a smaller version this time. I'm told to get off here although no indication where this is. I'll go with it since its been 2 hours, and should have taken 90 minutes, therefore must be close to it. Walking back a few steps towards a collection of motor cycle taxis. Getting them to understand where I needed to go was another matter though! After a few moments of head shaking, deliberation and help from a passerby it was all smiles again as I hopped onto the rear of this chaps moped. 30 b and 10 minutes of riding beside the railway line and then through the grounds of a university, there is the runway. I'm left to walk across the runway and a few yards along, into the Thai Flying Club bar.
An interesting little airfield with mountains at one end and cables at the other! Not the longest of runways either, about 700 metres I would estimate - enough to either sharpen up a pilots skills or end their flying career prematurely. The bar girl/cook directs me to the office where a collection of club members are sitting around, not looking like anything exciting might happen soon. I'm told the weather is to bad for students, or anyone else, low clouds and there are indeed a few ominous looking clouds on the horizon. They have about 400 members, and 7 students, sharing 4 Cessna planes in various states of repair! Permission to wander round and take a few photos is granted with a smile. A nice little collection of aeroplanes, and piles of junk from those that have crashed! Some people milling around a few aeroplanes in tin shelters. These are private aircraft owners, but still members of the club here. They're musing about whether to go flying or not - a British, a Spanish, an American and a Japanese, but no Thai pilots. A sleepy little airfield, and I don't imagine it's that busy when the weather is perfect either. Time for lunch and £1.10 buys a chicken curry and rice, portion is a bit mean though, bit like Saturday lunch at Seething Airfield sometimes. 2 light aircraft are out and ready to take off. At least a few photos can be taken with the mountainous backdrop.
Rumble in the distance. It's definitely thunder, a storm is heading this way as the wind increases cooling things down considerably. One plane lands, the other is still out there somewhere. Interesting to watch how the planes landing profile starts from a point halfway down that mountain, about 350 feet I would guess given the proximity of the runway threshold!. Rain pelts the tin roof of the bar as people run for cover into the main flying club building. Personally I'm glad to see the rain, even if it's put paid to any chance of aviating today. The place is much cooler!.
On another motorbike (40 b this time), back to the bus office in town and it's 30 minutes to Wait. The rain has stopped, but still looks quite threatening as the mountain tops are shrouded in dark clouds. Another 88 b and the bus back to Bangkok. Maybe try again next week.