Arriving in Thailand…wow, I’m really here!
Yes…I’m back in the US, already missing South East Asia, and wow, I have so much to say I could post for days about my trip… and actually I will be doing just that! My fingers want to go a thousand strokes a minute on my keyboard to get my story out. All the cool, and sometimes not so cool things that happened to me, but hey, everything is pretty cool when you are traveling, so even the not so cool things can be kind of cool!
I can still see everything like it was yesterday, even though I started my journey to Thailand and Vietnam almost three months ago. I remember I had to keep pinching myself to see if I was really in the Bangkok airport…I mean this is the second most traveled city in the world, and I had always dreamed of going there! I was about to leave the airport and head to Bangkok, a city that I would soon find out NEVER sleeps…there’s always somewhere to go, something to do any time of the day or night.
First of all I want to give a bit of information about arriving at the Bangkok airport. I have been to enough airports in my travels over the years, and I did find Bangkok’s immigration to be pretty easy to get through…you DO need to fill out an Arrival/Departure forms, though. Your airlines should give these to you during your flight. The questions are simple enough to fill out, but you do need to put down where you are staying, so it’s a good idea to have that address handy. This is pretty standard for any country you arrive in, and so I always make sure I have it available. I am kind of old school, I just print out a piece of paper with directions to my hostel or guesthouse I am staying at and keep those directions in my backpack so it’s easy for me to find the address right away.
Something you should note…KEEP the Departure form in a safe place. It’s stamped with the date you entered the country and you WILL need this later. Do NOT lose this. You will need it when you leave the country OR when you extend your visa if you stay in Thailand more than 30 days. I was so excited my first day just to be in Bangkok, I hurriedly filled out my arrival form, didn’t pay much attention to the stamped departure form, and filed it away somewhere in my backpack. I DO always keep everything, even the tiniest receipts to remind me of my traveling moments, so it was in my backpack, but I didn’t realize it until I had already tried to go up to the immigration desk to depart the airport. There’s a woman at the bottom of the escalator that does a quick inspection of your departure form to make sure you have it, that it is stamped and filled out, and she was kind enough to give me a new one, but I am sure that this is NOT always the case. I then stepped out of the queue and went to a nearby counter to fill it out. I thought hey, I probably have the one I received when I arrived…dug through my backpack and found it, only to make a BIG mess filling it out, trying to write in the information too quickly, then decided to just throw it in the garbage. Now I HAD to use the new one she had just given me. I am sure people lose these because when I got to the actual immigration desk nothing was said about me not having an arrival stamp on my new departure form, but it would still be best to try to have the original.
Okay, enough of arrival and departure forms…now on to my crazy, awesome, adventure! So, here I am, through the immigration desk, and on my way to get my luggage. Easy, the luggage carousels, at least for my flight were just on the other side once you pass through immigration. BUT, if you are like me, and want to take the train to the city instead of a taxi, you need to make your way from the fourth floor to the basement. That is where the train to downtown Bangkok is. Sooooo, you have to make your way down a maze of escalators, or take the elevator. The elevator seemed like it was constantly full of people, so I chose the escalator. At first it seemed daunting, but I quickly figured out the system and found my way to the basement of the airport. If you are hungry, there are several places to eat there, along with a 7/11 if you are thirsty and in need of some water. There are also several places along the way to exchange money, but I only exchange a minimal amount at airports because typically you do NOT get your best rate there. I found out later the best exchange rate is at the “Super Rich” exchanges or money changers.
Bangkok Airport has two or three different Wi-Fi networks to sign in to, which is very helpful. If you need to quickly download a map of the train system, or just get in contact with someone through Skype, Line, or WeChat, it’s easy to access the Wi-Fi with just an email address and your name. Now on to which train to get into the city. The airport link is no longer being used, so you just get on the city train…and go to the last stop, Phaya Thai, if you are heading into the center of Bangkok. At the time I am writing this blog, the city line was 46 baht…equal to approximately US$1.50, so it’s pretty cheap! If you were to catch a taxi, it would run you somewhere around 500 baht, or about US$14.50. Since you can eat a meal for around one US dollar, you are throwing away a lot of meals…I’m cheap, I almost always catch a train or bus! Okay…so here I am, on the train, heading to Bangkok…full of energy, and ready to go! What adventures are waiting for me…I am so excited, damn, I could almost pee my pants…lol. Well, you will have to wait and read my next post to find out what happens next!