After spending 10 nights in Thailand and visiting three different places, it was time to head back to Australia.
11 June 2006
After getting ready at the hotel I was all set to go at 6:45 am. The shuttle to the airport wasn't meant to arrive untill 7, but luckily for me it was there waiting when I finnished checking out from the hotel. There wasn't a whole lot of traffic on the roads of Chiang Mai at that time of day so we made it to the Airport at about 7am. I entered the terminal and had my bag scanned, as seems to be the norm at all Thai airports, and headed to a lineless check in counter. Check in was quick and painless.
I headed upstairs to departures where I passed through security and for the umpteenth time set the metal detectors off. I was scanned again and felt up a bit by the security officer, cleared, and sent on my way. By this time I still had over an hour before departure. The departures lounge was pretty empty so I found a spot in front of the tv, put on my mini-disc and let the time float away.
8:05 am came, and the call for boarding was announced. Everyone in a mad rush pushed towards the gate agents for boarding pass checks. This didn't take to long, but one thing I did notice, was that domestically there are none of those automatic boarding pass readers. The stub is torn off and then someone manually enters it all into the computer. This doesn't slow thing down.
I walked down the bridge and into the Airbus. This is only the second time I know that I've been on an Airbus, and I found that identifying where your seat is rather difficult as its not as clearly marked. Is this just a trait of the A300 or is it a trait of all Airbus aircraft?
Anyhow. Boarding was completed in an efficient manner which allowed us to depart at the scheduled time of 8:30am. The flight time today would be about 50 minutes. The meal service began soon after take off and would be fairly similar to that for the flight up from Bangkok. It consisted of a criossant filled with, tuna perhaps? and some pastry triangle filled with... something..
After the meal service was completed the crew collected the meals, the rest of the flight was uneventful. We landed in Bangkok on time and were shuttled to the baggage claim area via bus. I waited for a while for my bag, and it turned out to be the last one. Once I finally collected my bag and headed off on the half kilometre walk to the International Terminal.
11 June 2006
After walking from domestic I arrived at international and there were people everywhere. I found the SQ check in desk and at this point, they were still checking in SQ 63. I filled in a bit of time by getting something to drink and walking to the various Star Alliance members counters seeing if I could get an upgrade. They all told me to goto the SQ office which of course, on a sunday, was closed. In the end I gave up.
It was time for check in on SQ 65 to begin, and again my bag was scanned. Check in was a bit of a mess. There was some tour group heading to SIN and there were no real defined lines. Just one big mosh pit. Those who were clearly not part of the group seemed to loiter around the edge of this mash looking for a check in counter. We were picked out by TG staff and security and directed towards either the Raffles counter or the Economy counter next to the Raffles counter. The agent asked if I was flying to Singapore today, as my next flight was on 12 June. I said, no and asked if my bag could be checked all the way through to Sydney. This was no problem and a special tag to check the flight and date was applied to my bag. I was given boarding passes for SQ 65 and SQ 231. I now headed through to passport control after paying the 500 THB departure tax. Passport control wasn't much better then check in. People everywhere! I picked a line, as no line appear to be better then the next, and waited for my turn. Thankfully it didn't take to long.
It was probably about 11:30 by this time and I the departure time was 1:10pm. I looked around a few duty free stores, got another drink and something to eat and then decided to head for gate 55, probably one of furthest gates away from anywhere. I sat down and watched the comings and goings until boarding was called at around 12:30. Usually I'm inpatient when it comes to these sort of things, I'm always paranoid about missing my flight so I usually try go first. But today, I decided to be a bit more patient and waited for a little while. Knowing that there was this disobedient tour group I probably should have boarded earlier. When I boarded and found my way to my seat, I discovered there was someone already sitting in it. The crew asked if I minded changing seats, I politley said that it was ok and took another seat. There was also no overhead storage space anywhere so I just managed to stuff my bag under the seat infront. Due to excess weight concerns, I had about 10 t-shirts in my backpack.
It wasn't a good start to the flight. Theres not alot you can do about other pax, as the otherones around me were all pretty rowdy. Once boarding was completed the captain came on to announce a delay of 15 minutes due to VIP aircraft movements. The day before was the celebration of the Kings 60 years since his accention to the throne, so VIP movements were to be expected. The VIP had a delay as well, so the captain then came on to announce that we wouldn't be going anywhere before 2pm. The crew distributed water and orange juice during the delay, which I thought was pretty good. At about 1:50 pm we pushed back and taxied towards the end of the runway, where we waited for a few minutes to allow a few landings and the aircraft in front to take off. Finally our turn came and we powered down the runway for a rather long time. We finally became airborne and made a few turns and were headed towards Singapore.
Soon after take off the lunch service began, and again it was this bizzare service where two carts were taken to the front of the Y cabin and it progressed slowly backwards. Eventually I got my lunch, with the options of chicken or fish. Not being fish eater I went with the chicken.
I don't really know what it was, but it tasted pretty good. The desert tasted ok, it was some kind of coconut jelly type thing. The texture was a bit off putting tho.
After lunch was cleared I continued to watch house and CSI, this aircraft lacked AVOD which was a bit disappointing. Before landing I asked for a pack of playing cards and filled out the immigration form for Singapore. As I would have 8 hours between flights I went into the city.
We arrived into a wet SIN about an hour late. This meant my 8 hours would be 7 hours. Which was fine, I guess. Disembarking from the rear is always a slow process.
The walk to immigration was fairly short as our gate was probably halfway along one of the peirs. I waited in the line, which moved fairly quickly, and wondered if I would be questioned as to why my stay in Singapore would be so short. Luckily this didn't happen. Later on I would find an ad in the airport promoting what I was doing. I headed for the train station and headed off into the city.
12 June 2006
After arriving back at the airport at about 9pm. I went around to the internet access area, connected up my laptop did some surfing, chatting and posting here on A.net. Checked to see how full the flight would be, luckily it didn't look to full. I packed up my stuff headed to the sun flower garden, took some photos. Headed back to the terminal did some duty free shopping. By this time it was about 10:45pm. I headed down to gate 60 which wasn't open yet, so I waited out the front.
The gate opened at about 11pm where our boarding passes and security checks were performed before being allowed into the fish bowl. I was one of the first so I took a seat down very close to the gate as, this time I had two bags so I was going to need some space in the over head compartment.
However, boarding was done by row number wasn't it? My seat was 36c. I thought I'd go with an aisle seat as this flight was at night and wouldn't see to much out the window. After my row number was called I took my seat to find no seat mate. After waiting for a while and people kept walking past, but no one sat next to me. Did I smell? its a possibility, I had been in the same clothes for 18 hours, and the humidity causes you to sweat a fair bit.
An announcement soon came over tha the door had been closed. Yes! three seats to myself. Last time I flew SQ231 it was on a 773 and it was full, so getting any sleep was difficult. As we were pushing back, I quickly jumped from my aisle seat to the window seat.
We pushed back from gate 60 at about 00:30 our scheduled departure time. The 747 had a leisurley taxi down to the end of the runway, which was on the T2 side of the airport. There weren't many take off's happening at that time of night which allowed us to turn onto the runway without stopping. Not long after getting onto the runway, we were airborne and headed for Australia. After climbing for 10 - 15 minutes the seat belt sign was switched off and the crew came around with menu's and amenity kits. After being in the air for around 30 minutes juice or water were offered as was a refreshment of either a warm turkey roll with cheese and olives or tuna salad with toblerone. I went with the Turkey.
It was rather nice, and I was tempted to ask for a second one, but instead I decided to see if I could geta few hours sleep. I changed the time on my watch and then streched out over the three seats and eventually dozed of to sleep. At some point during the flight, I heard the lound bing of the seat belt sign coming on. This startled me awake so I put my seat belt on, picked up the pillows that had fallen on the floor and went back to sleep. I woke up at around 7am after going to sleep at about 3am. 4 hours probably wasn't enough sleep but I could see the sun rising out the window and figured I wouldn't go back to sleep. I went to the lav and the came back to watch a movie. I watched The Pink Panther. It was one of those movies you just couldn't help but laugh outloud at. It was not long after I woke up that breakfast was served as it was about 2 hours before our arrival in Sydney. Good timing on my behalf me thinks. The options for breakfast were Mushroom Omlete or.... something else I can't remember (sorry didn't save the menu). I went with the omlette.
I was feeling pretty hungry at this point so I was just glad to get something to eat. It tasted good and fresh so I was satisified. It was now about 8 am and we were over New South Wales. I finnished watching the Pink Panther and watched bits and peices of other shows to kill a bit of time. Head phones were collected and the cabin was prepared for landing. We came in over southern Sydney and good views of Cronulla becah were offered as we headed out over the Tasman sea before turning left to line up with the runway. We came in over Botany Bay and landed at just after 9am. We turned off the runway before the east west runway and this gave us a fairly short taxi to our gate. Disembarking was fairly quick today and the lines at immigration were practically non-existant... well for Australian passport holders anyway. I waited for about 10 minutes for baggage claime to begin, and then probably another 5 or so minutes for my bag. It always seems to be the last one, I collected it and headed off to Customs where I declared a few bits of wood and my bag was scanned and I was sent on my way. I met up with my mother who was waiting for me and began the three hour drive back to Canberra.
This ends my Thai adventure. It was a fun one with plenty of eye opening experiences. As always the service on SQ was good, however the check in at BKK was awful and the flight to SIN from BKK left me less than impressed. TG is way over priced for what is on offer on the domestic service. But overall, all my flights were pleasant and I have no real gripes with any of the four carriers I flew.
Thanks for reading this long report, and the two which came before it (if you read them) and I hope I haven't bored you as I've realised some of my comments are a bit repetive