48 Hours in Thailand
The trip really begins in Amsterdam, where I take my second flight to China of the year. This time I’m flying China Southern, and doing it out of choice - and this time I’m not the only westerner, the crew speak decent English, and there’s an OK choice of movies.
Guangzhou is well designed for transfers, with clear signs and a simple boarding pass check before you’re airside in international departures.
I arrive into Bangkok exhausted and in need of a few hours sleep. Luckily my hotel isn’t far from the city-end of the airport rail link. I board the train and notice a distinct lack of westerners, they must all be either taking taxis or puzzling over inaccurate guide books.
After a couple of hours sleep I drag myself out of bed to join what’s billed as a night time adventure. They weren’t wrong, we find some tuk tuk driving santas and head out into the night - enjoying local street food at a handful of markets and stopping by a couple of temples. Four hours flies by, and all too soon I’m back at my hotel feeling like I’ve been on an episode of The Amazing Race - only without the challenges.
Another few hours of sleep and I’m being whisked away to the river Kwae to ride a train and enjoy more local food. There’s a short ride on a speed boat and some museums too.
I arrive back to my hotel to spend an evening relaxing. There’s an email waiting for me telling me to start packing for my next trip and housekeeping have left me a cookie and a map of local jogging spots, covering all bases. It’s been another great day.
Morning comes, and my last few hours. I wake up early and have a quick breakfast before heading out into town and then on to the airport. It’s 28C even in the early hours, so it’s only a short explore around town before heading to the airport.
The self-checkin machine tells me I have no upcoming flights, so I have to wait for the desk to open. By now all the window seats have gone.
You travel as much as I do and you start bumping into the same people again. Did we meet in Chicago or Amsterdam, do you sell electronics or busses? The immigration agent points out we’re travelling to the same place. Buses, it was definitely buses.
Guangzhou again, and this time I have time to visit the lounge. I wish I hadn’t. The drinks are warm, there’s no food worth mentioning and no WiFi. Plus the staff are crowded around the tiny tv watching some Chinese soap opera and there’s a baby crying. This may all explain why they were surprised to see me.
The flight to Paris involves some fitful sleep, it’s an Air France 777 which means limited in flight entertainment but adequate leg room. And finally Paris to Manchester, where the e-passport machines are not only working but they’re actually sending everyone through them.
The people I’ve met on this trip are all rather bemused at my travelling so far for just 48 hours, but for most cities that’s enough to see the main sites. Thailand is a country with many traditions and customs that I’m never going to understand after such a short time, but that’s OK - this trip was about having an amazing adventure with good food. I can always come back, but there’s still entire continents I’ve not stepped foot on yet.