what a day it was.. another one of the many travel mementos that i would look back to with a smile. not that i would recommend such experience to any traveller but it was one of those that i was really grateful to have came through and was able to go back home on schedule.
all along i was pretty confident that i'd have enough time to be in the airport and board my flight going back to manila. from wendy house, i walked to pratunam. although i didn't get a lot, i leisurely sauntered around pratunam to look for small presents. from there, i walked again to go to central world to buy naraya bags. i spent a lot of time there, choosing which items to pay for. from there, i crossed the road to go to big c where i bought food items (spicy tamarind, tom yum noodles and nestea iced tea) that i wanted to bring home. and as if i didn't have a flight to catch at 6:50 pm, i again walked from big c to go to chit lom bts station. from there, i alighted at national stadium station. i went for a quick late lunch of deep fried pork and kale before stopping by the nearest fruit stand to buy fresh guapple (best served with sweet and spicy dip). and then that was the only time i went back to wendy house to re-unpack, re-packed my luggage to get all the new stuff in, re-organized the bags and finally left wendy house way past 5 pm.
i've been to bangkok many times and should have been more conscious that it was rush hour already. but no, i was probably deep in vacation mode and got loads of heavy baggage that i hopped on a taxi. of course it was more practical to have taken the bts and airport rail link to avoid the rush. but i didn't. so there i was, stuck in the traffic jam somewhere in phetchaburi road. after 40 minutes or so, i asked the driver to bring me to the nearest airport rail link station instead of driving all the way to the airport. makkasan was the nearest so i alighted and immediately went up. jampacked train but it was made fun with little chitchat with a uber nice retired thai lady about thailand travel and why my 2 days stay in chiang mai was not enough. when i told her that my flight was at 6:50 pm, she immediately told me to hurry up… my oh my, it was about 6:20 pm already when i reached the airport.
the elevators did not help at all so i had to wriggle my way from basement 2 where the rail link is located, all the way to the 4th floor, the airport's departure hall. i could not see where philippine airlines is located so i needed to ask the information counter. when i got to row n, there were no pal counters! all i saw was myanmar air. pakingsyet! i finally saw 2 ladies in the middle counters and they said that pal checkin is already closed. what?!!
i of course know the drill already. in these kinds of situation, one needs to put on that kawawa puppy eyed look, forget about demanding anything at all and start begging for huge favour from the more senior counter staff. all you need is to say yes and hope that they would pull some strings to get you in. the key? one has to say, "i already checked in online", which of course i already did in the morning. the senior (senior i'd say because she looked older than the other lady) said some lines in thai expressing exasperation and asked me, "why you late?" all i can utter was "the traffic was so bad, i came from don mueang (the other airport in bangkok)". what i appreciate the most is while saying all these frustrated lines, she was already on the phone talking to the other half of her team who are in the gates and already boarding the on-time passengers. "i can get you in but if you have 100 ml or more liquid here (in my luggage), you throw them out. your luggage will be boarded in the gate." ok, that's fine… i only had my cologne anyway. she then printed my boarding pass and said without looking at me, "go to security check and immigration and run!"
and run i did. i got through the first hurdle, the security check with no issue. i immediately went down to the immigration counters and to my expected horror, the queue snaked like there was no end. i already expected this given the normally high tourist traffic in thailand and i've never had a trip here without having to deal with long immigration lines… oh except for those 2 times that i was on business class! anyway, i again know the drill and straight away looked for the immigration officer tasked on organizing the lines. she was upset that according to her, i opened the line to get to her and asked me to close it but honestly i didn't open it. she asked for my departure card, which of course got lost somewhere during this travel, then she irritatedly handed me a blank departure card to fill out. i filled it as fast as i could and asked her again. she then said to fall in line "in any line". the shortest line that i could find had at least 20 people in front of me. armed with puppy eyes, begging disposition and sweating all over the place, i asked the indian family in front of me if i can go ahead of them as my flight is at 6:50 pm and the father kindly said "no problem." i then asked a group of tourists (4 americans i guess) if i can jump over the line and they graciously said yes. the major hassle? a singaporean or malaysian chinese lady (i think singaporean or malaysian because of the lah) in front of the american tourists who arrogantly said, "no! mah flight 6:30 and still in line so no!"
i didn't want to push my luck anymore because of the big-headed but empty brained lady. i stepped back and the indian father said, "don't mind her, go to the start of the line. we won't mind and we can manage here." thanking them profusely, i walked past the line again. upon passing through, i overheard the american tourists saying to the arrogant lady, "your flight is at 6:30, you should be in front of the line as well, go there now." not minding the arrogant lady, i then asked another group of indians if i can take their place and be in front of the line. the mom said "no problem, go ahead." what's even nicer, the grandmother even helped with my luggage and 2 ecobags. i know they are indians but i still managed to say khawp kun naa khrap. finally, it was my turn and because of smiling and puppy eyed look, i even went first before the arrogant lady got her turn. one more but minor hassle? i forgot to sign the departure card.
what a relief! i got through the immigration line and was thanking the high heavens for those indian families and american tourists. but my amazing race journey has yet to stop. i still needed to run to gate g1 from the immigration area. and this was not an easy breezy affair. suvarnabhumi airport is one big airport and in the departure hall, one needs to pass through a long series of duty free shops before reaching the gates where walkalators are only found. running with 4 heavy baggages, i felt that in no time my feet would probably fall off (if that's the right term!) and give in. i finally reached gate g1 and run through it. i got in, handed my passport and boarding pass and the ground crew greeted me and said, "you got here. you are here. don't worry and let me handle your luggage." i so wanted to give her a big hug because of the huge relief but there were only about 7 or so passengers left in the gate that i was immediately ushered in.
i got to seat 7f! i can finally breathe and relax. i made it! i felt that i deserved a huge tap on my shoulder. moreover, the american guy on 7d was such a nice fella to have allowed me to bother him 3 times as i needed to check my luggages and after the x-men days of the future past screening, my toilet break. i had 2 glasses of red wine! to top it all off, despite all the frantic running and trotting that i did, there were no misplaced or lost items. my belongings and limbs were intact.
all this time, i was thanking the good lord for all the nice people that made this happen. had i missed the flight, i'd need to stay another night in bangkok and would probably have to shoulder the would-be rebooking fee. again, i won't advice anyone to push the limit and hope that your photo finish scheme would work all the time. it's still better to be not hurried, having the opportunity to observe people and look at some things the departure hall has to offer. while beating all the odds would give one a good feeling, nothing beats having not to be on an unnecessary adrenaline overdrive or being under intense pressure just to catch a flight.
what a journey it has been! wahahaha! till our next date, bangkok!