Bangkok Adventures Await

So a few weeks ago, I decided to join yale on his annual work pilgrimmage to Bangkok, which just happened to happily coincide with some of our colleagues being in town for some planning for the FIFA World Cup Congress being held here in May, so became a fortuitous work opportunity for me also. I booked my flights through Cathay Pacific – first time flying with them, but they are a One World Partner and had the best priced Business fares at the time I was looking… and somehow the transit fairies smiled on me for like the first time in my life – I got upgraded to First Class.

I have no idea how or why this happened. I didn’t request an upgrade and neither did Mr K with his magic Platinum One fanciness. When I checked in, I didn’t even look at my boarding passes, and honestly it wasn’t until I was boarding the plane that I looked at it and saw I was in 1K and not in 12A which is where I was pretty sure I was sitting… but the lovely flight attendants led me to the very pointy end of the plane where there was only six of us in fabulous luxurious pods three across the plane.

This was actually a bit ludicrous actually – I’m only 5’ tall and had a bed that stretched to about nearly 7’. There were four windows down the length of my cubicle/pod, which means I was sitting in the equivalent space that about nine people were squished into in Economy. There was a 30” television screen, a massage function in my seat, a locker to store my things so head room isn’t restricted, and menus and wine lists as long as your arm. The foot rest also has a seat belt in case you want to have someone join you for dinner. The table that comes up out of the sideboard (yes, there’s a sideboard!) is large enough for two people to dine on. There was free flowing champagne and an excellent menu, and seeing I had foregone eating in the lounge (because I knew full well I wouldn’t get to sleep until the food service around me had stopped), I opted to have beef tenderloin and vegetables for dinner – and it was tender, juicy and delicious!

After the meal, and a quick freshen up in the enormous bathroom, (seriously, the bathroom was about the size of a six person elevator), one of the crew made up my bed for me with a mattress topper and lush duvet. I mentioned to the crew member that it felt a little warm in the cabin, and she said she was hot too and immediately dropped the cabin temp about 5 degrees, so I snuggled in under my duvet with my full size pillow and was out like a light!

When I woke up my preselected ‘light breakfast’ arrived – and I was so glad i asked for the light breakfast! The sourdough toast, with fresh avocado, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon was perfect… I had requested no pastries but they turned up anyway. Can’t fault the service or the quality at all. But soon we were landed in Hong Kong and I had to say goodbye to my cosy little pod. I could totally get used to this sort of thing!

I had a four hour layover in Hong Kong and was planning on visiting The Pier First Class lounge in HKG Terminal 1. As I was approaching the entrance, I saw two businessmen turned away being directed to The Pier Business Lounge – I didn’t realise there was two, and thought maybe it was closed. I was pretty sure I had access with my One World Emerald status, but was half expecting to be turned away like the two tailored-suited, Tumi-toting gentlemen in front of me… but no, me in my daggy Rammstein concert t-shirt and GoRuck backpack was ushered right in. LOL. If I had known, I might have dressed a little less ‘long haul comfy’. 😛

The Pier lounge was pretty fancy all round. Lush carpets, foot massages, spa treatments, showers, bar, buffet, enormous bathrooms (I mean, why?) comfy lounging spaces, quiet work spaces… and more champagne for the people – only four French champagnes to choose from though. 🙂

It was sitting in the lounge here having a cuppa watching some Lupin on Netflix, that I got the following texts from Yale – his work is moving 300 people to his conference and not our little company flying one person to Bangkok, and they have these annoying things called, ‘Company Travel Policies’ that restrict their travel options. Meaning poor Yale at 6’9” was going Qantas and travelling Economy for his transit and I was meeting him at Suvarnabhumi Airport as I was arriving just before him. After seeing this, I thought I’d tell him about my happy upgrade *after* we arrive in Bangkok!

Farewell Hong Kong – it looks to be a lovely day in the city if the clouds burn off – supposed to be 15C and clear… whereas Bangkok is supposed to be about 34C and humid when we get there.

I arrived in Bangkok, and was through immigration, bag collection and customs within like 30 mins. No waiting, no lines for anything, just straight through… and when I got out into the arrivals area I could see why – they must have about 90-110 flights landing every hour according to the boards. It was barely organised chaos. Waited around a bit longer than I had planned for Yale, who was an hour late leaving out of Sydney, but that seems on par for Sydney airport these days… Mr K and I had one domestic flight leaving Sydney last September where we were delayed nearly 6 hours – so I’m not complaining about one hour delays!

Got out to go find a cab and discovered a really streamlined and organised process in place. Line up for ‘short trip’, ‘regular trip’, or ‘large taxi’ queues that are all moving very quickly. Get to the front of the queue and press a button on a machine that spits you out a ticket – on your ticket is the cab company that will be collecting you, the license number of your cab, the name and photo of your driver including his ID number and the bay your driver is either already parked in, or on his way to meet you in. Our driver was just pulling into the bay as we got there. Awesome speedy and fair way to make sure the cabbies get moved through quickly.

They also have the cabs driving in, parking in the bay on an angle – so you walk across from the ticket machine area across a mixed pedestrian zone to your cab, load up and they drive straight out again. No cars reversing, no jostling for kerbside space. It was impressive… right up until the driver showed up a laminated cardboard sign saying it would be 800BHT to go to our hotel and he didn’t want to put the meter on. Oh FFS… why are cabbies the world over determined to rip people off?! It should only cost 400-500BHT but we were tired and just wanted to get to the hotel, check-in, have a shower and find a drink! So we didn’t bother arguing and let him take us off the meter, for the extra like $10 without a fight.

We are staying at the Shangri-La in Bangkok for the entire week, and I have to say, so far, I think it’s nicer than the Shangri-La in Sydney, the decor is lovely and matches the country and culture of Thailand, whereas it feels like a duck out of water in Sydney (bit like the Sofitel Melbourne with all their French hoity-toitiness; just doesn’t make a lot of sense in Aust). Gorgeous orchid displays in the lobby, and interesting furnishing. Our room is going to be super comfy for the week, though if I have one issue – they obviously let guests smoke here so it has take quite a few hours of the AC running for the room to smell better than it did when we arrived.

After we had showered and cooled down, we went hunting for some of yale’s colleagues to see what they were up to for dinner and we ended up at a little Michelin listed restaurant not far from the hotel having the best Thai meal I’ve ever had.

I ordered the amazing Phadthai Poo – consisting of stir fried rice noodle with eggs, peanuts, bean sprouts, tofu, garlic chive, dried shrimp, crab sauce, tamarind sauce, and blue crab meat for the grand price of AUD$14..! It was absolutely delicious. Someone at the table ordered some chicken satay sticks and the satay sauce was to die for! There must have been about 15 of us there and the entire bill came to less than AUD$400. This is definitely somewhere I would come again.

After this, some of the others kicked on at a cocktail bar, but we head back to the hotel to crash.

Tell me what you think