Back To Bangkok
I finally made it to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon! Or “Bangkok” to the uninitiated. Trip on Thai Airways was uneventful and the flight arrived 40 minutes early. The plane’s loading I would put at a conservative estimate of around 25%. I would say the split was 70 : 30 Thai : Foreign nationals. Farangs passengers could split into mostly hi-so travellers and a handful of kee-nok farangs. Like 80’s NYC cop shows, addicts desperate for their next fix at any price!
Landed at Suvarnabhumi around 5:45 AM, which turned out to be best possible time for the Covid-era traveller. Just 10 metres after stepping off the skybridge you are corralled into to paths created by socially-distanced blue plastic chairs on either side. To say there were thousands of blue plastic chairs would be no lie, but happily we kept going towards Immigration. Then the blue plastic chairs changed to a chrome and leatherette model (business class). I would estimate about 100 either side and then 6 checkpoints staff in full PPE, lots and lots of them, like an open casting for a US medical drama. I was seated not far from the checkpoint and it took about 5 minutes to rock up and present my documents in the older man’s style, in a large, plastic, transparent envelope.
I had to politely scoff as 2 younger men of the kee-nok persuasion tried to display their many documents on their mobile phones (idiots) and were shuffled off to the side. Saw an Aussie on Facebook who was unhappy about being charged 10 dollars for 1 photo copy of required / missing document. Strewth, cobber! After just a couple of minutes I was through the document check stage and then on to Immigration. As I glided along the moving walkways, I was happy I had avoided the blue seats and imagined the bedlam If you were seated not long after disembarking. You could be looking at a long wait!
Again, a wonderous sight, a virtually empty Immigration hall where each booth had only 3 or 4 people waiting in line. Lots of police around with nothing to do. The line I was in had 2 people ahead of me and just like in the supermarket, it was mine that was the slowest! In front of me were 2 men of Indian appearance and their paperwork was shuffled and scrutinised many times. Worryingly for me, both were sent back for discussion with Immigration staff who magically appeared (secret button pressed?).
My turn, quick shuffle of papers, fingers and thumbs scanned, hand sanitizer left greasy smears, lower mask for photo, thump thump and away you go. Very un-PC to say but white privilege is still alive…..except in your own country.
Hotel pick-ups at gate 10 in Arrivals, can’t miss it with loads of staff with armbands designating transport to the many hotels represented. Directed to a large jeep which reminded me ff New York taxis with the driver cocooned in a Perspex bubble. He was fully suited and what I call “double-bagged” face mask and plastic visor (welder’s mask style) and before my bags were placed in the boot they were sprayed with Covid killer liquid (patent pending).
In all, to took just 45 minutes which was great. I have been stuck just in the Immigration hall for 30+ minutes on previous trips. Because of the early hour, I quickly arrived at the hotel in Ratchadamri, and again early start meant no queuing (a few days later returned to hotel at 1 PM, and there were 20 deep at check-in).
After check in and passport / credit card checked, I was directed to the terrace garden (indoors), only 20 metres from the check-in desk where a PCR test area was set up. Again, because of the hour, nobody else was there. It is open from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily. Details taken and noted, swabbed by a nice lady in full kit and doubled-bagged. Told to expect result around 6 PM, you remain in you room until being declared negative. Hotel informed before yourself, so no doing a runner like that guy from Israel at Xmas who went to Koh Samui after taking a test that came back positive….but he had already jumped ship! The Bangkok Post reported a nationwide hunt for him. If he had been of the UK ruffian class you would just have to find cheapest beer bar in town or McDonald’s.
Un-packed, hotel left snacks, fruit, coffee / tea etc. No room service but you can call app to get delivery to room. I recommend toast because they just slide it under the door! Most ex-motorcycle taxis now have green box for GRAB food delivery on the back. Got my negative result at 2:45 PM, went to MBK to stock up and it was very quiet. Tokyu gone! On 2 floors of the ex flagship department store is a large Covid vax centre, like the airport with rows of plastic seats, mostly occupied I am pleased to report.
I have only been out in the evening once during the wait for second mandatory day-5 test and am now completely free to enjoy the next few weeks.
Like the flight to Bangkok, I would say downtown Bangkok is at around 20% occupancy, which is great for me. They have cut back on street vendors pre-Covid, but there are still some. You can easily traverse along Sukhumvit and easily dodge the plague carriers (98% of farang masked) and disease spreaders. At night on Sukhumvit it’s the “fox in the hen house” scenario but minimal chickens and hundreds of fixes of all various types. It’s nice to be popular!
5-day test scrapped on 1st March and Insurance pay-out requirements lowered, all good news for Thailand tourism. Maybe the tide is turning. Hope so. Be in touch.
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