In Transit to Bangkok Airport and Khao San Road
Dec 2009 trip
My original flight was booked in Clark, I bought the round trip ticket two months prior to my trip at a very cheap price. But because I printed the ticket on the day of my flight only at exactly 5 hours before my departure, that was the only time I realized that oops! I’m booked for 9pm not 11pm( got confused w/ the military time on the e-ticket) and I’m still in Manila.
It’s my birthday and i opt for an out of the country solitary trip. I am more of an adventurer, I opt for backpacking rather than party on my big day. I was scared to do it at first, I’ve been asking my classmate back in college who is based in Chang Mai, Thailand and she warned me about my plan. “Gael, it’s not like Manila, I understand you’ve been traveling solo in our country but you’ll have a hard time because people here don’t speak English and the signs are written in Thai language and it could be a bit dangerous if you’re alone and I’m 8 hours away from Bangkok.”
My original plan was to head to Phuket after Bangkok. Yes, The Beach, Leonardo Di Caprio’s movie which was based on Alex Garland‘s novel inspired my backpacking. Surprisingly, the novel is actually an anti-traveler not a celebration of the backpacking culture according to the author himself. The book was based on Garland’s backpacking experience in the Philippines (he stayed 6 months in El Nido, Palawan) but the movie was set in Thailand for the obvious reason –> Bangkok is well-known for backpackers particularly the backpacker’s mecca Khao San Road. I encountered this famous street while browsing about the movie The Beach on the internet.
Since the island hopping to Koh Phi Phi Island (the beach in the movie which looks like El Nido’s lagoon) down south will cost me a lot, I decided to change my route to Bangkok-North Thailand-Burma, since my friend Agnes is also there. I wanted to see the newest temple, the white temple in Chang Rai, The Golden Triangle, The Mekong River and the Opium Hall. I’ve always wanted to cross borders like any other backpackers.
My plan didn’t materialize because a day before my birthday at 11pm, I am standing alone in the dark at the Clark airport, the plane left and the airport is closed according to the guard. There’s no more jeepney back to Angeles at that time too, I could take a cab which I would have to walk a few meters for Php 400 or I could accept the motorcycle ride offered by the guard. Knowing the stingy me, I opted for the motorcycle ride, I was scared with the guards but I had to be tough and polite so the naughty strangers will return the favor, that’s my mechanism whenever I’m trapped in an awful and scary situation. I know that being grumpy and snob will only put me into more trouble.
At roughly 11:30 pm, I was back riding in a stranger’s bike, with the full moon above me and the cool wind brushing my my face. I miss back riding a lot. The guard dropped me off at Angeles. While I was walking the still lively street of the town, an old woman manning a public bathroom warned me to get a room to stay , “Madame foreigners dito, delikado, baka ma pick-up ka. “, she said. I immediately took a jeep to Dau to the bus station but my tummy was making a loud noise that upon seeing a still open carinderia, I went down the jeep to feed my poor starving tummy.
At 12midnight, I am having my simple birthday dinner alone in a carinderia in Dau. Happy birthday!
I never liked parties but my loving mother used to throw me one always during my childhood years, but when I entered college, I refuse to celebrate my birthday. Perhaps because I’m a huge fan of Peter Pan, I don’t wanna grow up..so I don’t wanna remember I am adding another number to my age. lol
After my delightful birthday dinner and much regret, I’ve gathered enough courage to pursue my backpacking plan. Sometimes, even if it’s not meant to be, you have to make things happen. So I crossed the street and entered a 24 hour internet shop, booked another flight to Bangkok but this time, it’s in Manila to save me another trouble but the ticket cost me 2 times the rate of my round trip ticket. tsk tsk tsk.
Two days after my birthday. I am standing at the window of NAIA 3, bombarded with questions by the young (handsome but snob) immigration officer. You’re alone? Why do you have 2 tickets? You’re left by you’re flight or they didn’t allow you to go?. These are just a few questions, there’s actually more that I noticed the line behind me was getting longer and longer. I suddenly remember my friend Claudine telling me to speak in English which I forgot to do. He bluntly told me, “Nagdududa talaga ako sayo, kase baket mag-isa ka lang?”. After a series of questions, I guess he got tired, “Pls pls, it’s my birthday and I just wanna see Bangkok for 2 days”, he checked my work ID and passport looking for my DOB. “ Oo na, Sige na, sige na“, he said.
Okay, the plan was for 2 days but due to heavy traffic at Khao San Road during my flight back which happened to be the King’s birthday, I was left again by my return flight !!! My stay was extended. Paranoia bugged me all day, knowing I have no credit card and not enough cash left for that expensive return ticket that the agencies in Bangkok are offering me (since airline tickets costs more if purchased on the flight date or near the flight date). I am thankful for Cebu Pacific for introducing the pay over the counter, debit card & pay via Megalink or Bancnet thingy. But I wish they could also offer the pay via International ATM’s (Expressnet, Plus, etc), that would really help attract more tourists and backpackers to the tourist since not everyone has credit cards or debit cards you know (especially for budget traveler like me), but we carry ATMs. And how did I managed to buy a return ticket? Well, I had to open my facebook and since my sisbs are facebook addicts, early in the morning I bugged them to call my aunt and ask for her credit card info so I could book online and I’ll just pay her when I get back. The ticket though cost me thrice the cost of my return ticket.
My agony didn’t end after passing through that skeptical immigration officer, I saw another officer approaching me asking if I have a problem, I probably looked so annoyed so he approached me, and asked me “My problema po ba?’, I walked fast, didn’t even look at his face and just told him, I’m fine. I just recently learned from my aunt that that guy is actually my cousin whose working at the Immigration, haha. I didn’t recognize him because I didn’t even bother to look at him because of the fear of another interrogation. It so happened that he saw me at the window and suspected a problem so he hurried to my direction to help me but too late because the immigration officer already let me in.
At 1am Bangkok time (they’re an hour delayed Manila time), the plane touched down at Bangkok International Airport. I was really scared to face the Bangkok immigration officer for fear of being rejected and returned from airport to airport. I have heard such stories but not in Bangkok but SG. Surprisingly, the officer didn’t even say a word, my entry to Bangkok was really smooth. While on the line waiting for my passport to be handed back to me , a young diplomat entering a special entry on the other side greeted the flight stewardess w/ a “namaste-like” gesture. A slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. I used the gesture during my entire stay in Thailand whenever I thank a local who helped me.
Going down the airport to the ground level, I was greeted by faceless crowd, mostly travel agents waiting for their clients. I went straight to look for the nearest comfort room. It’s 2am, what do I do now. I read in the forums that I could actually sleep at the aiport, taking a cab to Khao San Road will cost me 500B plus, I have no place to stay yet so walking along KSR to find a cheap hostel at 3am would be a bad idea. I decided to take the airport express shuttle bus by 6am for 150B. I stayed at Gate 8, saw a free map of Bangkok and took a copy, secured my belongings and slept at the bench until 6am.
At 6:30 am, the airport shuttle bus is still nowhere. I saw some locals took the free shuttle bus to the Transport Terminal, got curious and since I am too excited to see the rest of Bangkok, I hopped in. I remember reading one post online saying taking this route is not recommended, it’s only for the adventurous. Well, I am! haha Bus 551 is the closest I could get to Khao San road, bus stops at Victory Monument.
My 1st encounter to speak w/ a Thai is at the Transport Center. That’s when I realized that my friend Agnes was indeed right. The bus driver couldn’t understand what I’m saying, not even Khao San Road, later on I learned that it’s pronounced differently in Thai and if you add road to Khao San, they would barely understand that English word, instead use Thannon Khao San or just plain Khao San.
The bus ride cost me 35B, it’s roughly an hour and 30 min ride to Victory Monument, and there’s a couple of buses and cabs from there. I had to ask 5 people to get the right info, some couldn’t understand me again. I took Bus 69 from Victory Monument to Khao San Road and it’s not even gonna pass in KSR but along the highway where you could walk towards a main road and turn left to Khao San.
At 8am, finally, the beautiful yet blinding rays of the sun greeted me at Khao San Road. Now the next thing is, finding a cheap place to stay for my entire stay…
For a comprehensive guide of Bangkok Airport Transportation. Click Here
*********************************************************************************************** About the Blogger : Gael is a Filipina solo adventurer, a dream chaser and a student of life. Her (mis) adventures are documented in this blog. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For advertisement, partnerships and sponsorship, click here. or email me at thepinaysolobackpacker(at)yahoo(dot)com. **********************************************************************************************
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