Travelogue (Part 1)
Michael Taylor thought he had everything under control. He had written down the dates, times, and flight numbers of his flights. He had made of list of the hotels and resorts he would be staying at during the first two weeks of his four-week trip – together with the names and phone numbers of key contacts.
Last Minute Preparations
I quickly ran through my emails to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
When I came across one asking for my arrival details, I hurriedly dashed off an email with the name of my airline, flight number, and arrival time. I turned off my computer, put it in its case, made myself a cup of coffee, and called a taxi.
I’d have dinner on the plane. I’d arrive in Bangkok at about 8 o’clock. That should mean checking into my hotel, The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok, at about 9 o’clock. Just in time for after dinner drinks!
Arrival in Bangkok
Bangkok’s new airport does have its flaws, and one of them is that there are six separate exits. As a result, the drivers sent to greet arriving passengers don’t always know which one to wait at.
As has happened countless times before, I emerged from the exit, and there is no one holding a sign with those two magic words – Michael Taylor – written on it. Oh, what a sinking feeling . . .
“Here we go again,” I thought as I set out in search of my driver. Each time I spotted a gaggle of drivers – some enthusiastic, others bored – I approached them, hoping that one would l have a sign my name on it.
Where Is My Driver?
I made three trips up and down the terminal before spotting a man leaning against a post and holding a sign with my name. He seemed very relieved when I walked up to him – probably more relieved than I was when I saw him.
He picked up my suitcase and asked me to follow him outside. The weather was a delightfully cool – by Bangkok standards, at least. I waited for what seemed like an eternity while he fetched the car.
He finally drove up in a Benz (good sign!). I tumbled into the back seat while he deposited my bag in the trunk.
“How long will it take to reach the hotel,” I asked. “Two and one-half hours,” he said.
I really had no idea where The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok was located. All I knew was that Bangkok’s new airport was a considerable distance outside town. So I could only assume that the hotel was situated in an equally distant location in the other direction. But two and one-half hours?
Boredom Sets In
At night, there was no passing scenery to distract me, and boredom quickly set it. I tried to fall asleep, but I couldn’t. After about two hours, I started to get suspicious.
Even in the darkness, we did not appear to be approaching Bangkok. If anything, we seemed to be getting farther away.
When I started noticing signs pointing to hotels with the word “beach” in them, I knew I’m in trouble. There are no beaches in Bangkok.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“No problem!” my hitherto reticent driver said.
“Almost there. Just a few minutes.”
“But where are we?” I pleaded.
Help! This Doesn’t Look Like Bangkok!
“This is obviously not Bangkok!”
“Not Bangkok!” he agreed enthusiastically.
“Not Bangkok! Hua Hin! We’re almost there!”
“Hua Hin?” I cried.
“I’m not going to Hua Hin! I’m going to Bangkok!”
I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I asked him what hotel he was from.
“ Rest Detail Hotel Hua Hin,” he said.
I was supposed to be headed to The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok. I had sent my arrival details to the wrong hotel. . . I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. . . By now it was already 11 pm.
I walked into the beautiful lobby of the Rest Detail Hotel Hua Hin. I tried to explain the mixup to the enthusiastic clerk, but he didn’t understand. I realized that there was nothing he could do even if he did understand.
He seemed to be expecting me. I clearly had a reservation, and I certainly wasn’t heading back to Bangkok at this hour. So I checked in and was escorted to my accommodation – a tastefully decorated one bedroom cabin with a terrace and direct access to a swimming pool.
As soon as I could figure out how to make a long distance call to Bangkok, I dialed The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok to cancel my reservation. Then I called room service and order a stiff drink.
In early 2010, Michael Taylor is to spend four weeks exploring Thailand, visiting Bangkok, Koh Samui, and Hua Hin. But his trip gets off to a bizarre start as he mistakenly notifies the wrong hotel of his arrival plans. Follow him on his journey through the Land of Smiles!
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