I was sure that I had everything under control. I had written down the dates, times, and flight numbers of my flights. I had made of list of the hotels and resorts I would be staying at during the first two weeks of my four-week trip – together with the names and phone numbers of key contacts.
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 at about 9 o’clock. Just in time for after dinner drinks!
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. 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 hotel 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?
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. “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 Resort,” he said. I was supposed to be headed to the Westin. 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. 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 other hotel to cancel my reservation.
Then I called room service and order a stiff drink.
Copyright: Michael Taylor
Pictured: Rest Detail Hotel in Hua Hin, Thailand