Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Traveling to Thailand

I arrived in Phuket, Thailand yesterday. It proved to be one of the more complicated travel days so far.

I woke up in Hong Kong around 7 am yesterday and took a taxi to a train called the Airport Express. I was excited because usually you can check your luggage at the Airport Express and not see it again until you reach your final destination. I had just enough time to check my bag and take the 30 minute ride to the airport. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the train, I learned that Air Asia is the one airline that you can't check there.

Just as I started to grow nervous about my bag and the impact to my flight, I ran into Kathryn on the train. Hong Kong seems like such a big small town. On the ride in, we talked about Memphis and I found that I would have just enough time to check my bag at the airport-- if there were no mistakes.

When we pulled up, the doors opened on both sides on the train. One side went to terminal one and one to terminal two. Which one would I take? I had no idea. There hadn't been any signs or mention of this until now. Initially, I got out on one side and quickly realized I was in the wrong side. Just before it took off, I ran back onto the train and through the doors in the other side.

I had checked in online the night before, but had no way to print my ticket. When I reached the Air Asia counter,I had five minutes left before the baggage cutoff time. The checkin line was huge, so I went straight to the bag drop counter. Luckily, I was able to get my ticket and check my bag. Unfortunately, I also found out that my bag would not be checked all the way through. I would need to pick it up during my layover in Bangkok and go back through security again.

Before I left, the woman at the counter looked at me very seriously and said, "you need to go straight to the gate. There's no time. Go and don't stop. Don't be late." This increased my already high adrenaline level. I went down the hall, around a corner, down an escalator. Onto one train. Off the train. Onto a second train. Off the train. Up an escalator. Around a corridor. Down a huge hallway with multiple moving sidewalks. I made it exactly on time! And boarding was late. Of course.

The flight to Bangkok was bumpy, outside food was not allowed, and they only accepted payments for food in the local Thai currency. Midway through the flight. I realized that we were delayed-- by 30 minutes. The crew seemed to be oblivious of the delay and weren't able to check my luggage through all the way. Now I was down to 1.5 hours to navigate the airport, find my luggage, go through immigration and customs, re-check-in, drop my bag, go back through security, find my gate, take a bus to the plane and board 20 minutes prior to takeoff. (Keep in mind that I had no idea how big or complicated the airport was or wasn't.)

Well, I made it! It's probably the one time on the trip I've been aggressive. I was ready to push over just about anyone who got in my way. I even had a few minutes to spare once I got to the gate. I stopped by one of the only food options for a snack-McDonalds. I was surprised to see that one of the other options was a Crispy Creme.

When I arrived at the Phuket Airport, my driver was waiting. The hotel I'm staying at is an hour away, so they sent someone to pick me up. He was a great driver, so I avoided getting car sick again. And, his car was totally bedazzled on the inside. Check out the photo below.

Last night, I checked in, had dinner, and looked around. The room is very relaxing. It faces a pool and lush greenery. And, it has free Internet!

Below are a few photos from the journey to Phuket.

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