Complete route: SYD-BKK-USM
13:30 - 22:45
After a wonderful 4 weeks in Oz it was time for my next destination on my sabbatical, namely Thailand. I have divided that destination in threes. First I would spend 3 nights in Bangkok, then fly to Koh Samui and stay there for 5 days and end up in Koh Phangan where I would stay for 20 days. It is from there I bring you this TR.
Most people agreed I was an idiot for choosing to spend so much time on Koh Phangan (nothing to do, nothing to see) but I am glad I am. It is truly a paradise on earth. However, I am getting ahead of myself. I have to leave Sydney first!
I arrived nice and early at the airport. I am completely and utterly in love with QF's First lounges and wanted to make the most of it. I already did an extensive photo report on them a year ago, so not too many pics this time.
I started my visit with a nice meal of which I forgot to take a picture. Unfortunately that means I also can'Ât remember what it was, but it was very nice.
The F lounge
Since I had ample time I decided on a Spa treatment. I went to request a time and immediately fell head over heels in love with the incredible beauty at the desk. At first I had to wait two hours but suddenly she decided she could fit me in in 30 minutes. I floated back to my seat to get my stuff and headed back after a short while.
When I entered again she was there waiting for me and she told me she would take care of me personally. I quickly reset my pacemaker and headed for the treatment room. Unfortunately I only had to undress my top half.
We chatted amicably during the wonderful treatment that lasted about 40 minutes. I flirted happily but it was hard to see if I was being successful with cotton on my eyes. When I was ready I asked her if I now looked like 30 again and she replied with a very seductive smile that I looked good to begin with and that I should come look her up next time and if I had a card? How I hate my decision to not bring business cards on this leisure trip. I handled myself as a spotty teenager and forgot that you can also write down a phone number and headed out. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
By now I was so embarrassed that I decided to act like a geek and take pictures of airplanes.
View from lounge
A380 takeoff. I was too late for a good picture.
The time had come to get to the gate anyways. Well, not really but I wanted to get away from the scene of my adolescent style blooper.
'My' BA 747 waiting at the gate
BA747 Window shot. I like the way it "looks at you"
Since I arrived at the gate about 20 minutes early I had time to watch the goings on there. It always surprises me how most gate staff ignore the customers completely and act like they are a nuisance to begin with. I tried to call one over to ask if I could pre-board to take pictures but she simply pointed at her watch and mouthed 'not ready yet'
When we did start boarding I was the first passenger to board and by far the first in J since everyone (quite rightly) stays in the lounge until the last minute. I had the UD to myself for at least 10 minutes. I was still too upset with myself to take many pictures. She really was wonderful...
UD + cockpit
Takeoff from Sydney is always nice. You get some really great views. The windows where very dirty however, making the pictures less enjoyable.
Very soon after takeoff we were served dinner by a very uninterested crew. It is like they are less into their jobs since all this BASSA strike business. That, or I am no longer an objective onlooker. The food was bland as always in J but it hit the spot and was not immediately disgusting.
Main (Chicken something)
After dinner I decided to watch some movies and try to stay awake for the duration of the flight. That did not really work and soon I was dreaming of ...oops ... I did not even ask her name...
An hour before landing I woke up to find the crew serving snacks. Once again they went through the motions without any passion or interest.
You get a priority card when flying J or F. Only the UD and F had received them since they forgot to bring enough. When we disembarked BA staff was waiting to hand them out to J pax that did not get one.
Arrival in BKK was surprisingly easy. I headed to customs in a hurry and was one of the first there. No VOA so I was through in 10 minutes. Time to head to my hotel (Pullman King Power, excellent) and drink to losing my one true love.
After three days of mourning it was time to head to the islands.
Part of this trip (which we will get to later) has already initiated a lively discussion on FlyerTalk. I must warn you that some of what you are going to read may not be suitable for the fainthearted since (at least according to some member of the moral majority) it contains assault on a minor.
Thai Airways has not been flying to USM that long. Less than a year I believe. Before that the monopoly on this route was held by Bangkok Airways. I got the tickets in J really cheap (around EUR200 r/t) about 6 months ago. They fly a 737-400 on this route and we are talking regional J here.
However, J means a lounge and I booked before I achieved *A Gold status. TG has a rather nice domestic lounge.
BKK Lounge entrance
BKK Lounge 1
BKK Lounge: the so called garden section
BKK Lounge computer section
While I was relaxing in the lounge a couple entered with two boys (twins I believe) who immediately started running and screaming. After a while some other pax asked the parents (who had hid behind books and newspapers) to do something but they didn't. I don'Ât know what drugs the kids where on, but they kept running in circles through the lounge. Now here comes the assault part: when I saw one of the kids coming up behind me (in the glass) I decided to get up. That meant that the kid -Â who was at speed - had no choice but to bump into me which sent him to the ground. It could have been an accident, the parents thought it was, the kid thought it was and all were very apologetic. My 2 cents is that the kid learned a lesson about running in public places, the parents learned something about parenting and that was it. Let the judging begin...
After that 'Âincident'Â I decided I needed some fresh air. I went outside to take some pictures.
Boarding area (not ours)
No idea what airline
I went back for some more food (they really serve nice food there!) and after half an hour or so I headed to the (bus) gate. Although I was about 10 minutes late the boarding had not started yet and nor would it for at least 20 minutes and this without any announcement whatsoever. The gate crew again very uninterested.
The BKK bus
When we arrived at the remote gate (with bridge) I had the choice of a left or right stairway. I chose the right one only to get stuck for 3 minutes behind two women trying to lift 4 carry-ons. Of course they were in J too so there was hardly any room in the overhead bins left. Since I am traveling with a large carry-on and a photographers backpack too thatÂs annoying. Hypocrisy is so underrated.
View from aircraft (BKK)
The TG 737 J class cabin was very cramped. The seats were ok though. One passenger had a kitten in a cage with him (I had already seen him in the lounge with it) and refused to let the kitten travel anywhere but on his lap. The crew got into quite an argument with him but finally gave in. Strange.
I started chatting to the passenger next to me. He was a nice German guy who lived on Koh Samui and had just returned from surgery in Germany. It turned out that he was in a motorbike accident on KS about 3 years back and was still recuperating. That settled it: no motorbike rental for me.
We flew over my final destination before landing in Koh Samui. This is Koh Phangan from the air
It was a very nice view. This is the best 'seconds before landing'Â picture I ever took!
USM is considered by many to be one of the nicest airports in the world. Can't say I disagree!
Our 737 at USM
I hate being bussed but this way you can bus me everywhere!
The USM airport
I can assure you that Koh Samui is nice, but Koh Phangan is paradise. Much, much nicer than Koh Samui. At Koh Samui I was even a bit wary about staying in Thailand for so long. It seemed an unfinished, unrefined version of Bali. Koh Phangan (and especially Sunset Cove Resort) has stolen my heart. Here is why:
It is because of all this beauty around me (unfortunately without my princess from Sydney) that I have not had time to write this TR sooner. Therefore it is lacking most of the detail I normally try to bring to a.net. Hope you enjoyed it nonetheless and as always: feedback is much appreciated
PS I have no idea what is wrong with the editor but it keeps inserting all kinds of silly characters... Sorry about that.
[Edited 2010-02-10 07:45:20]