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From Christchurch to Bangkok: No Ordinary Travel Experience

how to get a pardon
by JStove

Article by Rene Smith

Things started off well, I felt organized and ready to jump on that plane. This was the first stage of my month long trip through 6 different countries. It was my first time out of Australasia and I was very excited at the prospect of encountering new sights, sounds, tastes and cultures.

The flight from Christchurch to Auckland was nice and smooth even though the pilot had warned of some turbulence, I sat next to a nice old lady who had been to Thailand before and she good things to so about it. It was all going perfectly to script until I arrived at Auckland airport to find my flight to Bangkok was delayed by three hours. The airline gave us a lunch voucher as compensation so it wasn’t all bad.

I sat right in the back corner of the plane but didn’t find it too uncomfortable, there was a lot to keep you busy and the time flew by (pardon the pun) with all the movies, TV shows and games at your disposal. I got a little cramp but when you sit in the back of the plane with the cheapest tickets that’s to be expected. I enjoyed having a window seat, which allowed me to take in some great views, especially over the Australian outback.

Coming into Bangkok was amazing, they were having a huge storm and it was hard to see anything at first but then BANG! A huge bolt of lightening and everything lit up like it was the middle of a summer’s day. The illuminated clouds and city lights were truly spectacular.

Bangkok, Thailand, let the fun begin! It didn’t take very long, we arrived at 2am local time and I was expecting a torrid time through customs. Much to my surprise, security was at a minimum, after getting our passports checked we basically just strutted through the rest of the airport like we owned the place, I swear the customs security guy was asleep at his camera, crazy but hilarious at the same time.

We then moved on to the main part of the airport. I’d been rehearsing my techniques of brushing off people determined to sell my stuff but my dad (who I was traveling with) obviously hadn’t. He spent 20 minutes talking with some random guy who had offered him a “special” tour deal exclusive to him and nobody else. Luckily I bailed him out before he’d signed off his life savings. That was our first taste of Thai people trying to sell us stuff, there was a lot more to come and boy were they persistent.

We found a taxi rank and eventually explained to the driver where we wanted to go. I still can’t decide whether I found the next 30 minutes of my life exhilarating or bloody scary but we hurtled down a bumpy highway at well over 140kph. There were no seat belts but thankfully the amazing sights kept my mind occupied.

Bangkok is crazy, it felt like the exact opposite of New Zealand. It’s so hot, crowded, messy and humid. There’s so much to take in, from Sony billboards to market side stalls, people hanging off motorcycles and random roadside shrines.

The taxi driver took the liberty of a few extra laps before we got to the hotel, it’s annoying because you know he’s not really “lost” but there’s not much you can do and it’s only a few extra cents. It had clearly been raining a lot, with water everywhere along the roads and through the hotel car park.

After checking in, the manager tells us that we can’t have our rooms because the storm has flooded them, it’s 3am, we’ve been traveling for hours and we’ve got no room! Aargh! They set us up in the lounge with a complementary croissant, yippee! Not the best first impression of Thai hospitality.

Ironically if our plane had been on time we may have got flooded while in the room, sleeping! The staff tried to make us feel better by putting on a movie to pass the time, whoops, they couldn’t work out how to use the machine, nice try guys. At this point I marveled at how I was in such a good mood, I’d had no sleep but perhaps the thought of the adventures to come were keeping me awake and in good spirits.

About the Author

Rene Smith is a travel guru who lives and works in Christchurch, New Zealand.Visit his Christchurch travel guide for other articles, reviews and all the information you’ll ever need to know on Christchurch, New Zealand.

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