Wednesday, February 13, 2013

tSH goes to Thailand: Getting there

After bouncing from the States, to Finland, to London, and then back to Finland, it was finally time for me to take some real independent holidays and set off for unknown lands. Thailand was the destination du jour and I was stoked. I even packed my bags two days in advance and made sure I had everything I needed (I picked up special tropical bug repellent while I was in London, as I had been thinking to myself how difficult it would be to pinpoint the exact same product in Finland...yeah, I think you see what I'm getting at).

I worked a little more than a half day from home before setting off to the airport and arriving judiciously early for my flight. And guess what? Upgraded to business class for free! This whole WT Platinum Class thing was starting to get pretty sweet, I'm not going to lie. This one even had a massaging option on the chair, so I guess that throws out my theory on what they could possibly keep reserved for first class. Now I'm just waiting to see the gold-dipped accouterments and then I'll know that first class is officially dead to me.

Who needs first class anyway when you have this? Lutetium class, I'm right on your heels!

As you could imagine, my 10 hour direct flight from Helsinki to Bangkok was a breeze because of this and I arrived fresh and happy, 7am local time.

This is where the smoothness stopped though, unfortunately.

Bangkok's major international airport, Suvarnabhumi, otherwise abbreviatingly known as BKK by my family (you try saying "Suvarnabhumi" several times in a sentence and you'll see why), is airport hell. And I don't mean this in the normal LAX or even in the Charles de Gaulle kind of way. It's not that it's inefficient or laid out inappropriately. No one should be fired for how it's designed...per say.

Imagine an equal sign (=). A really long equal sign. Put two very small hatch marks as though you're saying something is unequal to something else. That is the general shape of the layout of BKK. The problem with this? Everything you need is at the long ends of the equal signs. And from end to end? I swear this airport covers a distance of no less than 3k (three kilometers, slightly less than two miles).

Now imagine that you have to run from one long end of the airport to another. Because no one who works there actually knows anything about the place they work in. Three times. Imagine running that from length to length three times. No joke, this is actually what I did.

Despite being spectacularly nice (most of them anyway) and polite, Thai people are oddly lackadaisical. For example, calling someone by name over the loudspeaker if you can't find them. No one would page my sister for me unless she'd left a document somewhere. Also, despite me being able to get free wifi codes from the information desk when my sister talked to similar people they said the airport had no free wifi so she had to buy wifi codes from the bookstore. Everyone we talked to had a different response to the same question. And even when they were trying to be helpful a few minutes of free thinking made us realize that the answers they had given us were in fact, not actually helpful solutions. It was all very strange. I guess one could blame the heat on this carelessness but there really is no good explanation.

Long story short, after all my running and all the confusion, we ended up missing our flight to Chiang Mai. First flight I've ever missed in my life. Unfortunately it wasn't one of the airlines I'm platinum status with otherwise I'm sure they would have held the plane for us until I'd been safely located and personally ushered to my seat (I totally jest). So we booked seats on the next available flight (conveniently just two hours later) and made our way slowly to the gate.

Luckily despite all of our troubles we were both still in pretty good moods (whole legions of sailor mouth had been unleashed at various times during the day by both of us, so perhaps all of the frustration had been vented previously) and the day continued on as well as it could have.

It was an interesting introduction to Thailand though, to say the least. Luckily an impression that wasn't to last.

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