Arrived into Bangkok somewhat delayed. We were stuck at Dubai for a couple of hours, seemingly due to ‘birds’ although I missed most of it having finally conked out asleep for the best part of the time we were on the ground. At least the aircon was on, and all I was vaguely conscious of was that I kept drooling – such a gowjus traveller.
Both legs were on the Emirates’ A380 airbuses which resulted in long queues to board and depart, as it’s a double decker of a beast. Emirates haven’t figured out yet that it appears to take twice as long to board and depart, and the latter was causing some consternation for those with connecting flights at both arrival points, particularly those coming into Bangkok and heading out to Chiang Mai.
Despite the few hours of intermittent nappage I was still tired, so being the laze bag I am got a taxi from the airport to the hotel, the excuse being that it was tucked away not far from the Khaosan Road and not easily accessible by public transport. Also, it meant I got to try out the new taxi system, which is basically a self service posh butcher’s shop ticketing system – you press a button, you get a ticket telling you which lane your taxi is in, you wander up and…find he’s not there. Brilliant. He soon appeared and after some twatting about with hotel names, phone numbers, lost digits (numbers, not fingers), and a few chuckles we headed off onto the toll road.
Memories of the near-death ride from the same airport 9 years ago initially came flooding back – our driver at the time was seemingly on some sort of amphetamine and driving at 80mph into 8 lanes of stationary traffic whilst looking at me and my travelling companion Welshie trying to get us to confirm what hotel we wanted to go to. As we tried and failed to direct his attention back to the traffic, and we tried and failed to find the buckles for the seatbelts I told Welshie where my travel insurance was so my body could be repatriated, and then folded myself down into the footwell to await the impending collision. Seemingly our driver came to his senses, due in no part to our ear-splitting swearing and continuous pointing to the blockade of cars up ahead, and managed to stop in time. Sitting in the traffic he then proceeded to get out and fiddle with the engine to try and get the small fan (a plug style one you’d usually have working from a USB, not your car cigarette lighter) in the car going – didn’t work, despite some valiant wire wiggling. Sweating, more from fear than heat, we ended up directing him to our hotel ourselves using our Lonely Planet map. On arrival he had the audacity to ask for a tip, and mine was ‘Don’t drive like a fucking lunatic in future and don’t take the piss asking for money’. It was a surreal moment going from that into a hotel where a woman in Thai national dress was playing ‘London Bridge is a Falling Down’ on a xylophone and cold flannels and kir royales were being offered up to the skanks with PTSD in rotten travel gear (aka us).
Luckily no trauma this time around, we arrived safe and sound and in good time without the need for near death experiences. I stayed at Tara Place, as a friend had been here a few months earlier and recommended it. All clean, tidy and fresh, and slightly set back off the main road so the traffic noise is somewhat reduced. Bit weird that you had to leave a 500b deposit – can’t work out if that’s in case you are caught smoking in your room or if you leave blood on the sheets from your newly acquired tattoo (a no-no according to the note in the lift)…or both…to be fair most of the clientele didn’t look the sort to be doing either…but who knows…
Managed to sleep a pretty straight through for 10hrs despite the solidity of the Thai mattress –– ‘less comfort and more torture’ seems to be the Thai mattress manufacturers motto. The tile floors have more give than most beds here. I’m pretty convinced they just put a bit of fancy fabric around some corrugated iron and call it a mattress. So I was up and at ‘em, ready to..er…well…er…have a potter really, not one of life’s ‘24hrs in the city – fill every minute with heady excitement and sightseeing’, so I pootled off to breakfast to have a ponder on what to do for the day.