A Slow Boat to Suvarnabhumi

I’m not sure what was the biggest problem, traffic congestion or bronchial catarrh. I’ll spit it out, I think the day was more full of lot (cars) than snot but either way I didn’t make it to Suvarnabhumi airport on time. I missed my flight back to the UK. Mai phen rai.

I had an eight o’clock evening flight from Suvarnabhumi and before that lay a seven hour journey from Udon Thani. We knew the roads would be busy and so we set off a full 12 hours before my scheduled flight time. For the previous 10 days I’d been suffering from the biggest mother f#cker of chest viruses I’d ever had, Paracetamol it loved and antibiotics it just swallowed whole, and kind of smirked back at me. My phlegm was a fluorescent Chernobyl green. Mai phen rai krap.

On New year’s day I’d tried to book a flight for the 3rd from Udon Thani to Suvarnabhumi. No chance, every flight was booked. Buses, exactly the same. I hired our rented car for one more day and we set off making the 125 kilometres to Khon kaen well ahead of time. That left a mere 550 kilometres to cover. Our problem was the Thai New Year holidays were coming to an end and those who had headed north to their towns, villages and families were now heading back south to Bangkok and work. Thousands and thousands of them.

On a two week holiday I had seen my mate married in Khon Kaen and Wonderful Wi’s nephew cremated in the village. Sweet and sour, hot and cold. Manicured eyelashes to ashes. I was heading home with a chestful of sticky green memories. Mai phen rai krap pom.

The highway from Khon Kaen to Kolart started to get a little like my chest, packed solid with something you didn’t want. Catarrh and cars, they’re both slow to move at times and the colours sometimes lewd. At every city traffic light we waited for at least 20 minutes. Isaan was heading back to Bangkok. A slow boat to China would have been much quicker.

Thai’s going back to Bangkok, Isaan must have been stripped of every last asset. The pick up trucks were crammed full with sacks of rice and everything else needed to make the stay in Bangkok more Isaan. Amongst it all Thai’s slept in the high scorching temperatures and I daresay say wept all the way to Krungthep.

The straw that broke my camel’s back was around Saraburi. Those of you experienced in the ways of Thailand will understand the following. Every kilometre or so along the highway policemen started to appear with their mouths seemingly glued to a walkie talkie. Every so often a clutter of police cars and bikes were parked on the side of the road. A VIP motorcade was due to pass through and eventually we were waved over to the adjoining highway sliproad and to a resounding halt. Saraburi, why did you do that to me. Five kilometres in one hour. The slow boat had sprung a leak.

Our progress surprisingly picked up as we neared Bangkok and it looked like we would make the airport with a few minutes to spare, then Lady Luck lifted her skirt one more time and gave me a full blast of her ass. With just 20 kilometres to travel until we hit the highway toll and a fast run along the expressway to Suvarnabhumi we ground to a virtual halt. Mayday, mayday, we are starting to sink. About 20 minutes and a further two kilometres went by at an agonizingly slow pace. We eventually reached the tolls and they were unmanned.

Our run along the expressway to Suvarnabhumi was trouble free and the speedometer reached previously unseen heights. I hit the terminal running but I knew I’d missed check in, it was closed, twenty minutes too late. Saraburi why did you do that to me. I was left with the decision of staying in Bangkok or heading back to Udon. No choice really. We left Suvarnabhumi at about eight evening time and hit Udon Thani at half three the next morning. Seven and a half hours, nearly four hours quicker than the opposite route.

I have now rebooked a one way flight back to the UK for the 9th at a cost of 24,695 baht. Mai phen rai krap(whatever will be will be). Writing this post today my chest virus is starting to clear and I’m feeling a lot better. Perhaps in some small way missing the flight was a blessing in disguise as the long haul would have totally drained me. Best wishes and a happy New Year from Udon Thani.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

16 Responses

  1. Jon says:

    Ouch HD, sorry to hear what happened to do, particularly as it was my neck of the woods which screwed you over.

    Funnily enough my father-in-law is one of the senior offices in the region, seems likely he was out there with the VIP. You should’ve let me know, could’ve added you to the procession.

    .-= Jon´s last blog ..4,000 Hmong "Voluntarily" Evicted From Thailand =-.

  2. Talen says:

    Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling too well Martyn…I can definitely attest to it being a blessing you had to rebook….flew home sick before and the long haul definitely makes it worse.

    Besides a few more days in Thailand never hurt anyone.

    Hope you feel better and have a safe trip back.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand in the News Week Ending 01/02/10 =-.

  3. martin in bulgaria says:

    Happy New Year Martyn,
    Swings and roundabout on your journey home still to be completed. You really sound tired in your writing not to detract form the quality of course.
    Hope you arrive safely and your health pick up.
    Warm Regards from a cold and snowy Bulgaria right know
    .-= martin in bulgaria´s last blog ..A Heated Debate About Bloggers As Journalists =-.

  4. Ah well HD, you got to plot up in UT for a few more days… What a bummer eh!
    .-= Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..Crash in Thailand – update =-.

  5. Mike says:

    Martyn you have my sympathy, both for the horrid infection and the missed flight.

    Too much “sabai sabai” on your part I fancy since most forms of transport have been booked up for weeks and usually are for holiday periods.

    Enjoy your extra holiday. BTW I am away from 9th-12th attending the 100 day bash for Duen’s Dad.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Spirit House Blessing-San Phra Phum Ceremony =-.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Jon in many ways missing the flight was a blessing as i think the flight would have made my virus much worse. I’ll remember your family contacts for future use if necessary. Cheers for the read.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Talen I can imagine travelling home ill can’t be much fun on top of having to leave the LOS. I have enjoyed the extra few days and I am starting to feel better but as of today (7th) I’m still way short of home base.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Martin a very happy New Year to you and yes I’m tired but improving each day. I promise i will catch up with your posts on my return. Best wishes.

  9. Hoo Don says:

    Ben it sucks…kind of, but I do wish I could enjoy this break a little bit more. Have a great 2010 and I hope you , the missus and little one are doing well.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Mike I’ve never had a problem returning before but this is probably the nearest to New Year I have booked to go home. Normally I travel 3 or 4 days later and I think that makes a big difference. I hope you find a way to somehow enjoy your trip for the bash. Best wishes.

  11. Adullamite says:

    You missed nothing mate!
    Snow 18 inches deep in some places and many airports struggling to cope. You may not have landed and been diverted to Greenland!
    Horrid weather still for the next few days. Keep your germs in Thailand till next week!
    .-= Adullamite´s last blog ..Wednesday Snow =-.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Adullamite I’ve missed one flight already so I’m definitely on the next one, the cold should kill the germs. Landing tomorrow night.

  13. Emm says:

    Ouch! That is a lot of money!! I’ve only missed one flight before but thankfully that was due to my incoming flight being late due to weather, so the airline put us all up in a hotel and put us on a flight the next day.
    .-= Emm´s last blog ..Four days in South East England =-.

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Emm I decided to stick with my chosen airline Etihad even though I could have probably got a ticket elsewhere a little cheaper. Unfortunately Etihad wouldn’t let me re book my original missed flight because it was an air miles freebie and non exchangeable.

  15. Catherine says:

    Martyn, missing a flight after going on all that way… ow ow ow. But you are right about the flight being miserable being that stuffed up. Cabin pressure is a killer. And then there are all those people throwing daggers at you. All those people who do not want to catch your boogers. Like me.

    It felt like I was going to miss my flight to the UK this year, but in the end, there was plenty of time. Plenty of traffic, too.

    If my memory doesn’t fail (it often does) I believe I’ve only missed one long-haul and it was years and years ago. London – BKK – Brunei. 12 midnight was mistaken for 12 noon on my ticket. Or the other way around. I went on the next day’s flight, but at no cost (I can remember that much). I do not remember if flight insurance made the difference (but as I am not usually that organised on a trip anymore, perhaps not).
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai Folk Wisdom: Contemporary Takes on Proverbs =-.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine if someone hasn’t missed a flight before then they haven’t travelled enough or they are just too bloody organized. I was glad I missed it in one sense because I was feeling a little too ill to travel. I could re book my flight on the same ticket because it was a free one and non exchangeable.

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