I kept a low profile on Saturday for two reasons: I twisted my ankle on Friday evening and I have a flight to Bangkok early on Sunday morning. I decided that keeping the foot elevated and iced during the day and doing some laundry and re-packing in the evening would be boring but prudent activities for my last night in Australia. As I slept most of Saturday and didn’t really do anything during the day, my account of Saturday #41 begins in late afternoon and runs well into Sunday.
I’m up and ready to tackle a big repositioning day
I finish a beer and chicken wrap at the hostel bar. Might be the best wrap I’ve ever had. I ask the cook what kind of cheese he uses. “VERY old cheddar,” is his reply. I wonder if he means ‘10-year-old artisanal cheddar’ or if he just found a block of misplaced cheese way at the back of the beer cooler.
Go back to bed and set alarm for 10:30 PM. Hey, I might be up for the next 24 hours!
Not ready for this yet. Hit snooze.
I’m up. The room is quiet. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as I’m sharing a 6-bed dorm with five young Irish construction workers who are here on work visas. No Irish construction worker ever sat around a (dry) hostel room on a Saturday night. Ever!
I empty my backpack on a big table in the common area and start a serious session of purging and reorganizing. I arrived in Perth with 12.5 kg of luggage and bought some socks, another power cord for my laptop, packing cubes, and a used book. I supply the hostel’s “free stuff” bin with a safari-style hat, notebook, and misc. redundant toiletries. I’m hoping to leave Australia with less than I had upon arrival. Every gram counts when you’re carrying your life on your back.
I realize that it’s Sunday but since the good part is still to come, I’ll include this as part of Saturday #41.
I’m sure that laundry will be much cheaper in Thailand but I’m afraid to take dirty socks through customs so I do one last ($10) load here in Perth. I hope the security screeners, baggage handlers and sniffer dogs appreciate my consideration.
I ask the guy on the front desk to call me a cab. He says: “You’re a cab.” Original!
I wave goodbye to YHA Perth. The Australian and New Zealand hostels have been great! I know that all Asian hostels won’t be this good but from what I’ve read, I’m starting at a great one in Bangkok.
Taxi slows to a crawl and the driver says “oh my” while looking in the rearview mirror. I turn to see a dead swan on the road. I’m sure we didn’t hit it but the cabbie is despondent.
The Air Asia check-in agent asks how long I’ll be in Thailand. I tell her 28 days. She looks worried and picks up the phone. I overhear her say “15 days” several times. My heart begins to race as I understand Canadians can stay up to 30 days without a visa (which I don’t have). She hangs up after a few minutes and hands me my boarding pass. Phew!
I take a pass on the $11 breakfast sandwiches in the terminal but break down and buy a $6.50 latte.
I won’t be needing my last three Australian $50 bills so I exchange them for Thai Bhat at an airport kiosk. I know the rate is bad but I need some cash for a taxi and perhaps a celebratory drink once I land.
I kill time by deleting a few months worth of emails. A week-old notice from former WEG colleague and now Western Fair Racing Manager Greg Blanchard announces that that they have cancelled this year’s London Poultry Show due to an outbreak of avian flu. The press release notes that decision was made after consulting with the Feather Board Command Centre and the Ontario Broiler Hatching and Egg Chick Commission. Who knew?
We’re in the air. Right on time, too!
I’m offered a choice of three items for breakfast. I don’t understand the names of the first two so I go with the old breakfast standby, chicken fried rice. Welcome to Asia!
We land in Kuala Lumpur where I have a four-hour layover. The airport offers three hours of free wi-fi. OMG! What will I do in that final hour?
The landing was one of the smoothest I’ve ever encountered but I start to question the qualifications of the Captain when I see the airline’s new slogan: Now Everyone Can Fly.
The Kuala Lumpur International terminal is a modern, light filled space that reminds me of The Crystal in Las Vegas. I’m surprised to be greeted by a large photo of a wholesome, young Canadian boy. (Photo below). Unfortunately the food offerings are Burger King, McDonalds, KFC and Popeye’s. After walking for 15 minutes I find a café that serves surprisingly good oxtail soup.
I left a Swiss-made Skross power adapter in a hostel in Buenos Aires and haven’t been able to find one until now. The price is steep at $67 CDN but this is such a handy item that I grab it. The store is also selling combination locks for a price that works out to be under $1. I suspect it’s a mistake so I take one of these too.
I pick up a bottle of water in a shop that has about 200 types of beverages on offer. I briefly considered buying a can of “Man Some” but wasn’t 100% sure that it was a beverage and not aftershave. I’d hate to have to explain that one in the emergency room.
The flight boards in 25 minutes. One of the ground crew is going through the waiting room, checking passports and boarding passes, and stapling a small card to the boarding pass once he has found you on his iPad. I would guess that this speeds up the final boarding check by at least 10 minutes as we just wave the card at an attendant at the gate.
I might be sitting beside a soccer star. He doesn’t speak English but is probably African, very athletic build, and sporting a green-red-green stripe on his shirt, hat, and carry-on bag. He has a diamond in one ear that could choke a horse.
When offered a choice of three meals, the soccer star (in my mind, anyway) says “no moo.” He’s handed a chicken dish that he inhales in about 3.2 seconds.
We touch down at Bangkok’s Don Muang International, two minutes behind schedule.
Looks like about a 5 minute wait at Immigration. A girl in the line beside me is holding a Canadian passport. I resist the urge to tell her she can wear the Canadian flag on her backpack or the socks and sandals on her feet, but not both.
I sail through immigration in about two minutes. I said “hello” to the female Immigration officer. She checked my passport and entry card, motioned for me to look into a camera, then stamped my passport and handed it back to me. She didn’t say a word through the whole process.
I collect my baggage and exit the terminal without any further interaction with customs or immigration officials. Outside I’m immediately approached by a lady in a uniform who asks if I want a taxi or bus. I say bus and she points to a line of people. I suspect it’s a scam as a taxi is loading people at the head of that line.
A bus pulls up directly in front of me. The same lady in the uniform gets my attention and points at the bus. I instinctively say “gracias.” I’m SUCH an idiot!
The driver collects 31 Baht for the 15-minute drive to Chatuchak Park subway station. That’s about $1.30 CDN.
The subway is modern, well lit, immaculate and has a barricade on the platform with sliding doors that align with the train. I pay 23 Baht or 89 cents for an adult fare.
It’s a 5 minute walk from Sutthisan subway stop to Siamaze Hostel.
Siamaze Hostel is indeed amazing! It looks like a beautiful boutique hotel only with dorm rooms. I have pre-paid a 10% deposit and still owe 1372 Baht for four nights. That’s about $13 CDN per night, including breakfast.
Time to set the combination on my new lock. I’m tempted to choose 30-44-8. (Only a diehard Leafs fan would guess that one.)
Looks like there will be two of us in this 6-bed dorm tonight. Kate is a business school grad from Cardigan, PEI and this is her last night in Asia. She has a discount flight tomorrow that takes her to Singapore > Newark > Halifax > Charlottetown with two 10 hour layovers. I feel for her.
I sit down to review the emails I have sent myself over the last 36 hours. I’d find it easier to write this blog post if the hostel wasn’t playing Anne Murray music in the lounge. I’ll speak to them about that tomorrow.