LOG ENTRY 44
Leaving Kathmandu behind we left South Asia and on our short journey to reach the city of angels, the capitol city of the land of smiles, Bangkok where our Southeast Asian journey begun with new members riding with us.
|Rider's Log....... Lifelong journey around the world||
The couple of hours sleep did not refresh me at all. It was way past midnight when we finished and got back home from the agent and it was four in the morning when we had to wake up to leave to the airport. Kathmandu is not a giant metropolis but that taxi ride felt like really long and painful, something we experienced in India more often than we did here in Nepal. After we paid the agreed fare to the taxi driver, which not surprisingly he tried to increase in the end, we headed towards the entrance. Whether because the country is in civil war now or just an unseen safety measure, soldiers with machine guns guarded the entrance and checked papers and bags. We went through three full security checks before even reaching the check in counter. We are in 2005, South Asia, details on our ticket is changed with a pen, perfectly acceptable according to the travel agent. Well apparently not by the check in lady. My first and since then the last hassle for checking in started which ended almost twenty minutes later when the travel agent explained the counter on the phone why and how is our ticket has been changed. We are cleared and good to go. Only until the next set of security check point. All together it took us almost two hours to get in to duty free from the entrance of the terminal.
Luckily both Dad and me are notoriously early arriving passengers at airports so we had plenty of time. Even without our habit of arriving at least three hours before departure we would have been safe, our flight is delayed. There were two Nepal Airlines flights from Kathmandu to Bangkok on that day within an hour between them and for some reason one was cancelled. Little we know about this until we border the aircraft -which by the way was heavily guarded by armed soldiers standing around it on the tarmac- and seen the passengers from the other flight walking over, carrying their bags and boxes. This was the first time I seen people flying with carton boxes instead of suitcases. It does make sense, small weight, compact and cheap. As they kept boarding and boarding it felt like our Boeing 757 -which was clearly seen better days and sadly was decommissioned from another airline- was already carrying twice as much passengers as it designed to do. The craziness came from the luggage and box issue. It seemed like we had way more luggage than compartment or even storage space under the seats so many carry on luggage ended up going down the hold, again, more minutes added to our already hours late departure.
The three hours flight was fine, except the food service which came two hours after take off, making my bite all my nails down to their roots. On the plane we got a little booklet about Thailand, her people and customs. "The land of smiles" was written on the first page, as an appetizer what we are getting ourselves in. It talked about main rules of the kingdom, such as the importance of the Royal family in every Thais life and how much a traveler should respect them and preferably avoid every conversation about them. Also it talked about customs such as removing shoes before entering someones house and one I really liked, do not raise your voice. All this custom warnings made us feel that we are actually arriving to a very calm and disciplined country. As the aircraft landed at Don Muang international airport in Bangkok we seen something I never seen before in my life. There was a golf course between the two parallel runways. As I ended up living in Thailand half a decade after this story I even played on that golf course which is belongs to the Royal Thai Air force. If you are coming to Thailand now for the first time most likely you will not arrive to this airport. A new and much bigger airport opened in 2006 which accommodates every international flights from Europe and the U.S. The smiles mentioned in the booklet was apparent right after we left the aircraft. People seemed friendly, organized and yes, smiling.
Surprises came after surprises. First of all the smiling taxi driver and his habit to use the side mirror for changing lane on the elevated multi-level highway. Three things in the past sentence what we haven't encountered since Iran. Later on I realized that driving and in general the smiles aren't that perfect or honest in Thailand but at that moment I couldn't believe or digest that someone in Asia using a mirror for changing a lane. As usual we picked our accommodation on price. We had no idea of the location but seen many guest houses with the same postal code on the tourist leaflet handed to us at the airport so we thought the area should be good, some sort of backpacker district. Very well, we ended up arriving to Khaosan road area which is the old part of Bangkok, near the royal palace. Our guest house -Apple guest house- situated in a very small alley and its built at least half a decade ago. It was a typical tropical wooden house with the Chinese family living downstairs and simple but clean rooms upstairs. Only two toilets with shower was in the building which we also had to share with the family members of the owner and other guests but still, it was very clean. Surprises after surprises, the day went buy quickly as we roamed the neighborhood of this seemingly magical city, tasting the hot, the great food and the widely and cheaply available alcohol. We planned to stay in Bangkok at least one week as a very important visitor will join our trip and we are still did not know complicated the bike's custom clearance will be. If you want to find out how we spent the first few days in Bangkok, who is the important visitor who join our trip and also who is the another unexpected person who ended up riding with us, come back and read the next LOG ENTRY.