Sunday, May 4, 2014

One Night in Bangkok

I'm a traveler. I love getting out and going places far from home. Always been this way. That said, I'm not very good at it. Namely, to be a good traveler, you should plan things in advance. Consult resources about where you're going. Confirm plans, check reservations, that kind of thing. If you don't do that kind of stuff, things may not be as you expect when you arrive at your destination. I've never been very diligent about this preparation/confirmation kind of thing. Hopefully I'm not to the point of being a polyana, but I've always just sort of assumed that things will turn out for the best.  That's my mindset, and I'm happy with it.

That's fine if you drive a couple hours to a state park and find it closed. That's just a disappointment. It's another thing when you've got an immigration-mandated international flight out of a fairly quiet airport in a country whose national carriers are renowned for canceling flights at the last minute.

But that couldn't happen to me, right?

This last Friday, I show up at Yangon International Airport a good two hours before departure time (patting myself on the back for the time cushion), step up to the check in line (there was no line) for Golden Myanmar Airlines under a big LED sign that said BANKOK: 4:45 – CANCELED. You'll see it in the video at the end.

Canceled? WTF? I already paid for my hotel in Bangkok. I have to make this trip tonight to renew my immigration visa status. What's going on?

I give them my paperwork, and there is, at that point, an unspoken request/demand that I hoped was being understood. Get me on another flight. They find my name on a list of about 15 people and one of the attendants gets on the phone, reading my name to who knows who. Another says, “We are checking with other airlines, please have a seat over there.” pointing to an area where about half a dozen other somewhat disgruntled looking disappointed passengers sit.

Twenty minutes later, they call me over, bring me to the queue for Bangkok Airways (the carrier with the funkiest painted planes in all of Asia) flight 704, leaving mere 30 minutes after my original flight had been booked for and told me to have a nice day.

Whaddya know. Things turned out for the best. I even got a free meal. Golden Myanmar wasn't offering food service for the short 60-minute flight to Bangkok. It was a cheap ticket. $120 round trip. In fact, it was explained to me three times and my boarding pass had the words “NO MEAL” highlighted right on it, so I was anticipating not getting any wonderful airplane food. Who cares? It's a one hour flight. That detail got missed and I had a lovely dinner during my hour on board Bangkok Airlines. Same thing on the flight home.

Remembering the list on a clipboard I saw with my name along with a dozen or so others, I'm guessing the flight was canceled due to underbooking. It just doesn't make sense for an airline to fly 600 miles or so on a Boeing 737 or an Airbus 320 with only 20 people on board. There's probably some of agreement between the airlines to handle these kinds of situations.

While in Bangkok, I spent the evening hanging out with friends on Sukhumvit's infamous Soi 11, and spent the next day shopping. Should have made a list of the stuff I intended to buy in that world-city Bangkok that I can't find in Yangon, but I forgot. Instead, I banged my head against a wall I had before while living there: trying to find a pair of shoes in size 12E for less than $100. If my feet were but one size smaller, I could buy a decent pair of shoes in Bangkok for $10. I did, however buy a whole bunch of science fiction books at Bangkok's Dasa Bookstore for a pretty penny. Worth every Baht.

Enjoy the video.


  1. Did you get the foam stuff for your room edges? For years we had the whiteboard in the kitchen that we jotted down things we needed, now in the RV I have had to learn to keep a small notebook in my bag onwhich I write down whatever I run out of. This saves the mental blank feeling when I get to a store.

    Of course, there are often times I do not have my bag with me!

    You do need to plan some things. Bt as you say, everything works out most of the time. Or Not...

    1. Well, no, I didn't because as I later realized at the airport, you aren't allowed to take aerosol cans onto a plane!

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