Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 6: Thailand, indeed :)

Well, it's weird how things have transpired.

Yesterday, I was almost positive that, with the closure of Thailand's main airports and railways, that I would not be getting into Thailand, period. Well, things have changed, and hopefully for the better.

Originally, I was due to depart Phuket at present time (i.e. as I am writing this I was to be landing there, actually). However, once I got to Changi Airport in Singapore and finally found the right terminal (Terminal 1, after a pointless attempt of taking the free budget terminal bus to the budget terminal and back), I realized that the flight was canceled, much as I had expected. I didn't expect neither a refund nor any type of compensation. My plan was to ask for a ticket to Kuala Lumpur, from which I would be able to fly to Laos. Laos is the best alternative place based on my plans, because I had (and still have) a flight for Hanoi, Vietnam, that departs Bangkok on September 8. If, for any reason, that flight were to also be canceled, buses go from the Lao capital (Vientiane) to Hanoi for just $20 (roughly 24 hours). And if things got quiet in Thailand, I would be able to get to Bangkok quite fast from Laos over land. So that was the plan.

Well, things turned out to be much quicker and cheaper (and I hope all for the better). I was offered a flight to Bangkok that leaves in just 130 minutes. I thought it was a joke, but apparently the airport in Bangkok is open indeed. The catch was that I had to pay the difference and check in my luggage (a rule that came into effect in June for AirAsia flights that I hitherto thought I was immune to, for I purchased my tickets back in February and was not to be affected as a result by these changes). In any case, AirAsia credited me S$70 (the price of my promotional Singapore-Phuket fare) and also agreed to cancel my ticket, upon my request, from Phuket to Bangkok, since my new Singapore-Bangkok flight obviated the need of a flight out of Phuket. My total credit was about S$102, so I had to pay the difference of S$50 (about $36 USD). And that would mean I would be in Thailand a few hours from now.

Now I have booked my hostel and am writing this blog post from a free internet cafe hotspot at Changi Airport, which is a joy to be in. Hopefully Thailand is a lot quieter than last night. The last I read was that the Thai currency, the baht, is at a 9-month low to the U.S. dollar due to all the political tension and uncertainty, but the Thai Prime Minister has dissolved parliament and has called for snap elections, thereby hopefully acquiesing to the protestors' demands and taming the tumult that has raged on these past few days.

I don't promise pictures of the scene in Bangkok, but if it is possible, I will post one or two pictures. Bangkok should be safer now. And I am fairly lucky to be going there at all, having been certain that Thailand was out of my itinerary for sure. And after hearing the couple in the queue in front of me--how they were flying in from Australia to Singapore just to get to Phuket for a wedding, and having those plans canceled and requesting help from the Australian Embassy in Singapore--I feel too lucky, perhaps. Now that they credited both my tickets (to and from Phuket) and having found this free internet hotspot, things can't be better at the moment.

So there I head off to a place (i.e. global hotspot) that is crowded with journalists. My hostel costs only $4.50/night.

P.S. Singapore yesterday was fun. I met a girl named Yuliya in person after meeting her online and we went for a walk on the embankment of Sentosa Beach. A nice, expensive place (and a correspondingly beautiful woman). She is actually from Vladivostok, Russia, which I plan on visiting, if all goes according to plan, from October 26-28. But I am kind of bored in Singapore already. It's a nice place, but knowing that I will be in the center of things in Thailand sure makes the trip that much more risque and "sexy." :)

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