I can’t say people were too happy with my plans to travel solo.
I must admit I was one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m smart but at times I can find the most mundane tasks of human existence totally perplexing.
I vividly recall one New Zealand politician (not my boss) grabbing me by the shoulders and saying, “please Rachael, tell me that you’re not planning on doing this by yourself, do you not read the newspapers about what happens to single, blonde females abroad?”
Meanwhile, my Grandma was quick to point out another terror plot in Bangkok, while my Dad asked me if I’d ever seen the movie Hostel (a blood and guts horror movie about two Americans backpacking around Europe). Cherry.
Erring on the side of caution I decided to make my introduction to Bangkok and to travel life as easy as possible by pre-booking a hotel transfer. So all I have to do is clear immigration, customs, find my bag and find the taxi driver. Easy.
Well…. After waiting nearly two hours in the passport line at Bangkok airport the immigration official starts yelling at me in Thai. I have no idea what’s she’s going on about. Total possum in headlights moment. Luckily after a few minutes she gives up on me and stamps my passport (I later discover when crossing the border into Laos that I was supposed to fill in both the arrival and departure card).
Next I go to find my bag. That part was easy. Finding a trolley which worked to wheel it on, not so easy. After a good ten minutes and after test driving a dozen trolleys I discover that the wheels only roll when you push the handle down to disengage the breaks. There’s a lot of people looking at me now.
Sheepishly I head for customs. As I approach aThai man starts yelling at me “a million baht, a million baht,” again, no idea what he’s saying but I interpret it as you need to give me a million baht to pass. Finally I work out he means if you don’t have a million baht to declare you can walk through.
Passport stamped, bag rolling on a trolley I head to arrival counter 9 where my transfer is supposed to pick me up. No-one here. I wait. Still no-one. I ask and I’m told it’s actually arrival counter 1. An hour later I find the lady, at arrival counter 5.
We then get stuck in a traffic jam for an hour, giving me far too much time to look at the dog outside my window. It looks like a greyhound, it’s not, but it’s terribly skinny, its back legs don’t work, it eyes tell me it would rather be dead. I fear it’s not far from it.
Welcome to Bangkok.