In all honesty this holiday was chosen because Saga’s offer was 3 weeks for the price of 2 rather than any burning desire to visit Thailand! But the itinerary looked interesting and a 3-day extension in Bangkok at the start of the holiday was affordable.
2nd June 2006 – Déjà vu
It was exactly a year since my holidays in Borneo. I was no better at packing and had my usual last minute panic. What happened to the super organiser, who could get a husband and three children ready to travel, including packing all suitcases, repacking the car when said husband gave up on it halfway through (saying that we would never get everything in) and setting off to drive to a channel port after waiting for him to complete work tasks that he couldn’t bear to leave behind? I was still trying to zip up the flight bag when my daughter arrived to take me to the station.
At this time Saga was still providing a service whereby you could take a car free of charge from King’s Cross to the airport or an airport hotel, so I was transported to the Heathrow Holiday Inn in a comfortable Mercedes. The evening was made even better because I had a free dinner with two glasses of wine courtesy of some privilege points which I had amassed through working visits to the north east.
3rd – 4th June 2006
After a very early arrival at Terminal 3, I was pulled over at security and had to empty my bag, after which the security officer went to check something about me which was a bit nerve-racking! It can’t have been too serious as I was allowed to proceed. I’m one of those people who has to keep their mouth firmly shut at these times. I’m always tempted to say something flippant but totally inappropriate!
When I’m flying, I do enjoy watching the route, so it was interesting to see that we flew via Germany, the Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Myanmar before arriving just after 6 a.m. in Bangkok. I passed easily through immigration, luggage collection and customs but then couldn’t find anyone to meet me – I had gone to the wrong end of the arrivals hall. Eventually I did find that the Saga Rep and we took a taxi for the journey to the Montien Riverside Hotel, where I was handed over to the hotel-based Saga Rep. My room was on the 14th floor and had two views of the Chao Phraya River.
Exploring the hotel (I discovered that it was hosting an international darts competition during my stay!), having a meeting with Saga Rep Tom, (who booked me onto two visits) and taking short naps through the day, helped me to stay awake until Michael Parkinson finally sent me to sleep at around 10 p.m.
5th June 2006 – Bangkok
Today was the day when I was to explore Bangkok on my own. Tom had told me about the hotel shuttle which would take me to the SkyTrain. There were five other people on the shuttle who all seemed to know what they were doing but as soon as we arrived at the station they all disappeared and I was left floudering wondering what to do. A kind woman who saw me looking lost, helped me to buy a ticket and showed me where the platform was. Bangkok is a very crowded and high-rise city. I didn’t see a single patch of green on the journey.
The MBK shopping centre was right at the end of the line and, thankfully, just across the road from the station. I was so relieved to have arrived safely that all my sense of adventure deserted me and I went in a Starbucks and had a coffee. I spent the morning looking around and bought some clothes for my grandchildren. It was just a purse for me this time – I resisted the urge to buy another handbag. The one thing which spoilt my enjoyment was the number of decidedly dodgy-looking men around, usually with a young Thai girl on their arm.
I did read discover my sense of adventure sufficiently to have my lunch in the Thai bakery. I arrived back and plenty of time for the bus at the railway station but left at the wrong eggs it and couldn’t find my bearings. Another helpful person pointed me in the right direction. I waited and waited for the shuttle and was beginning to think that I would have to get a taxi. The only trouble was that most of the taxis were just little motor scooters. the passengers just hopped on the back and off they went! But not me. I didn’ fancy my chances on the back of a scooter, so I continued to wait and, at last, the bus turned up. There was time to shake off the dust of the city and have a swim. I chatted to an American woman who had, coincidentally, lived in North Yorkshire for some years. I often seem to turn up an example of “What a small world!” when I am away.
After a day of adventurous living on my own, I was looking forward to an organised trip the next day – to the former royal palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.