Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Arriving Bangkok at 2AM

Bangkok, Thailand

After a very long queue at the Cebu Pac counter for the Bangkok check in (for almost 1 1/2 hour, the line wasn't moving), the idiots got an inspired idea to actually spread their slow asses to different counters. By then, I've had paid PhP1,650 for the travel tax, and PhP750 for the terminal fee. Flight got delayed for an hour and we were able to lift off at 11PM. I wasn't able to get anything at the restaurant coz it was already running late. I was seated beside a very young French couple, must be late teens or early 20's who were sooo polite. Infront of me was a 300 lb. American in his best Sunday attire of torn sando (undershirt) and reeked of the fouleest stomach-turning stench I've smelled in ages. Around me were more caucasians. I ordered a ham-and cheese sandwich (P100) and a Pepsi in can (P50). My seatmates followed suit. I studied an old Bangkok map then took a nap. Three hours later, I was at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport ("suwanapoom").


Suvarnabhumi is impressive. It opened months after my 2006 visit. It is considered as one of the world's largest and the design is breath-taking: space-age! There were wall-to-wall murals all over (painted by a certain Phisuth, which made some Pinays giggle - in the Visayan dialect, the word's homonym meant "uncircumcised"). The turnstiles were huge, the central island filled with exotic flowers. The carts were even huge, heavy, and difficult to maneuver. At the immigration counter, eyeglasses and head gears are prohibited. Step into the anointed stand then face the sinewy camera in front of you. Not a single question was asked.


There's a public taxi stand right outside the airport - at the right wing area. You have to make sure it's the prepaid taxi stand, not one of those booths for luxury cars. I changed a hundred dollar to local currency. Exchange shops are open even at 2-3AM. Rate was $1= 32.30 baht. I paid 400 baht for my ride to First House Hotel - a bit too much now that i know better. It should be around 300 - 350 tops, including the toll fee.


The drive to First House Hotel (NOT First Hotel ok?) was comfy. I was impressed with the state of the expressway. These Thais are clobbering the Philippines by leaps and bounds. A ride to the backpacker area would fetch you 300 baht. By the time I got to the little street of First House without a reservation, it was evident that I was out of luck. I walked with my backpack along dark alleyways with some anxiety although I knew I'd be alright until I saw a nearby 7-11. Infornt of it is a "soi" which had read: Euro Luxury Pavillion Hotel (122/23-26 Soi Somprasongruam Rajpraroop Road, Pratunam, Bangkok). I know it can't be a "luxury" hotel the way the alleyway looks, but beggars cant be choosers. I came in. Room was 700 baht.


To my surprise, the room 411 at the 4th floor, wasn't bad. Smelled of incense, it was spacious: double bed, mirrors, curtains, cable TV, ref, huge split-type aircon, HUGE and clean shower (almost 2 x 1 1/2 armstretch). The establishment has 30 rooms (i asked) but they don't have any with 2 separate beds. The place is being managed by an Indian guy. Most of its customers seem to be Africans and Jamaicans. After checking in, I bought myself chicken steak sandwich (33 baht) and coke (18 baht), plus and extra bottle of water (6 baht). After my 3:30AM shopping, I retired to bed and actually had a good sleep (dreams, dreams, vivid dreams). I will wake up early. So much to do the next day. Let's see if that happens.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

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