Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mumbai to Bangkok

By now i had been a guest of Jetairways for what seemed like an eternity. I had watched all the movies and features that were of interest to me. I had played "who wants to be a millionaire" to the point where i knew all the answers before they appeared on the screen.  I squirmed in my seat to find a position of comfort. I looked on in envy as everyone around me seemed to be sleeping the miles away while i wrestled with back and leg pains. I watched the small screen in front of me that displayed our flightpath and other information. The only meaningful statistic was "time to destination". I tried to pay no attention to it for as long as i could in the hope that the next time i looked the time would have dwindled down at least 45 minutes. I think my record for not looking was about 8 minutes!
                                       I've never been to India, except in transit, but i feel as though i know it better than i do as i've spent countless hours watching it pass beneath me on these screens. Obscure place names of towns that are full of people in nowhere near the discomfort that i'm suffering. At this hour most of them will be sound asleep.
                                    The in-flight meal was served with little event. However, a well spoken middle aged gentleman a few rows forward, was complaining about something. From what i could make out he was somewhat disgruntled at the ice in his drink not being cold enough. Was i hearing this correctly or was sleep deprivation really taking a grip of my mind?  (or his ?)
                                     Finally, Myanmar and Thailand crept into view on the far right of the screen. Some of the small plastic window blinds were open allowing shafts of dust filled sunlight to pierce the gloom here and there. Eventually, the P.A. system crackled into life with the captain telling us about the weather conditions in Bangkok and thanking us for choosing Jetairways blah, blah, blah. It was then that i realised i had not been issued with an arrival card. I didn't worry to much thinking it would only take a minute to scribble one out at immigration.
                                             Wrong!   I had to stand in line for 20 minutes before i was issued with one.
Some of the people in front of me were being asked all sorts of questions, like, what is the purpose of your visit ? and , How long do you intend to stay? I wondered if a wrong answer might mean that they didn't give you a card. When my turn came the young girl handed over my card without looking at me.  I had a pen but most people didn't. More chaos. Every inch of available flat surface was taken up by dozens of people scratching out their details on their arrival cards. They were flanked by dozens more waiting to use their pens. I drew some open mouthed disgusted looks from the people waiting behind me as i slipped my Homer Simpson pen back into my pocket and headed over to passport control.
                                           When you join one of these lines of people waiting to be stamped through you have just moments to decide which will be the fastest mover.   Travel Tip :  Do not join the shortest line. This is because it's short for a reason. Usually there is a hold up at the front and people have abandoned their position in favour of a different line. Also, try to avoid lines containing Arabs. They never seem to have the proper documentation which leads to a stewards enquiry and another delay.
                                            I scanned the lines quickly and joined the one that i judged would be the quickest.   Wrong again!  My line contained two French backpackers. Probably boyfriend and girlfriend. They seemed unable to grasp the fact that one of them had to remain behind the red line while the other one was dealt with. They insisted on being joined at the hip and this held things up for some time as they were unwilling to be separated even by a distance of just 3 yards for just a couple of minutes.
                                           By the time i emerged from these tribulations i was so tired i just couldn't face the stress of a bus journey into town. At 500 baht it's ten times the price of the bus but i was happy to stump up the taxi fare for a quiet life. The taxi dropped me at the Morchit bus terminal and i paid 158 baht for the sleepless 3 hour journey to Takhli.
                                             Laong met me off the bus with a hug and my favourite iced coffee. By now i had been awake for nearly 30 hours. Just when i was beginning to fantasize about stretching out full length in my own bed, Laong informed me that her brother had taken the truck to Tak Fa to purchase some pig feed and wouldn't be back to pick us up for at least another 2 hours......Welcome home!
Footnote: I'm sure there must be lots of Arabians who travel with the correct documentation and have no problems as a result so i apologize in advance to anyone who thinks my observation is an over generalization.

6 comments:

  1. So all in all the journey went quite well then...
    Welcome home.

    All the best, Boonsong

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  2. Hi Boonsong,
    Now that you mention it, i've had lots of journeys from hell. This was just one of them but i've had worse!

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  3. Gotta love those entry/exit cards. The last thing on a travellers mind. The one completed entering Brunei asked for my religion, not their business, but OK. The next question was 'what race are you?'...what the? I wanted to write 'human', but left it blank!

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  4. Hi Snap,
    Yeah, it seems the whole world is wrapped up in red tape. Maybe it's just me but i always think that questions ,by their very nature, have a right answer and a wrong answer. Well, maybe not a wrong answer but certainly one that isn't so desirable. These questions are asked for a reason so what if we give the wrong answer? Still, i suppose it keeps lots of people in a job.

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  5. For the over-night flights I usually take drugs with me. A couple of anti-histamine tablets or some such thing usually helps me sleep although for a stop over flight you have to be careful or you can find yourself on the return leg if the cleaners don't shift you!

    Nice Blog by the way, I just discovered it, sorry for my tardiness.

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  6. Hi Dan, Welcome to paradise found.
    I'm afraid there is no cure for my in-flight insomnia Dan. I've tried the pills and the vodka and brandy method. I just seem to end up being too tired to sleep if that makes any sence. Plus, i'm not one of these lucky people who could fall asleep hanging on a nail. I have to be really comfortable and there is precious little comfort when flying cattle class.
    Thanks for checking in,
    Tom...........

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