Sunday, November 30, 2008

Badminton at Suvarnabhum, anyone?

Was updating myself yesterday with the situation at Suvarnabhum Airport. I could understand the PAD’s insistence to dethrone the increasingly lame-duck prime minister, but my eyes popped out upon seeing pictures of the PAD protestors playing badminton at the airport concourse.

Hey excuse me, there are thousands of stranded travelers trying desperately to return home and you idiots are having fun playing badminton in front of the check-in counters? Oh dear. What has become of the security checks at the premier airport of Thailand?

Days ago, I was just talking to my colleagues about the expected opening of the airport rail link to downtown Bangkok. And now, this.

Anyway, tried to check out the availability of seats for flights out of Chiang Mai. No luck, my friends.

Then, visited the travel agent this morning. Was told that there is no chance of flying out of Chiang Mai before 3rd December.

Seeked advice from Thai International. Two ways. One is to go to Chiang Mai airport and wait as standby passengers for the unscheduled flight to Utapao airport. With all the luggage tagging along. No reservations entertained.

If passengers are lucky to get to Utapao, they have to wait once again for the unscheduled flight to Narita. Again, on standby as no reservations are entertained. Hmmm, am I prepared to wait at the airport terminal not knowing if I could ever get on board?

You will have to be double lucky, other wise, you get stuck somewhere. Assuming I do get to Narita, I shall have to pay my own way back to Kansai from Narita.

The alternative is to change my Thai International reservation to 3rd December. Things have to move this weekend, really. Those suckers will have to play badminton somewhere else.

If nothing happens at Suvarnabhum by Sunday, I doubt that the airport will be ready to operate on the 3rd.

Now, would it be too much to hope for royal intervention?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stranded in Thailand, part II

Was sitting at the food court of Central Shopping Center gnawing on a plate of delicious mango salad, and listening to a rendition of ‘Anak’ by the Pilipino band.

Hey, this song really brings back good memories of days in Manila in 1980. those were the days when 'blood was young and hot', and energy, boundless.

As Keatix commented in my previous post, I am sort of marooned here in Chiang Mai.
Not to say that I am complaining as Chiang Mai is such a nice place to be at, accidentally or otherwise.
But if I were caught up in Bangkok under similar circumstances, I would certainly be gnashing my teeth away.

My counterparts at Chiang Mai University are doing their best (or is it their normal selves?) in helping me tackle the situation.

First, they had me checked out from my hotel into the university guest house by the lake.
Gibbon calls could be heard as I checked in. I am told that the primates would be waking me up the next morning and that I will not need an alarm clock.

Then, the CMU folks got hold of the flight information and every traveler seems to be thinking about the same thing, that is, returning home via a third country.

So it should not come as a surprise to hear that all flights out of Chiangmai heading towards Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, or Taipei are fully booked until mid December.

The alternative opened to me is to go via Luang Prabang on Lao Airlines, and connect to Kansai via Hanoi. Tell me, does flying to Luang Prabang on Lao Airlines look like a plate of leftovers to you?

Man, this is going to be a long trip.

My staff back in Japan is telling me to take the safe route, and that I should not rush back, dangerously, that is.

I shall have to make a decision soon on whether to take this route.

Meanwhile, I do not think that the PAD people are planning on leaving Suvarnabhum Airport anytime soon.

I think it is going to turn really ugly.

Imagine having the police, navy and air force personnel attempting to clear the protestors?

Wooh, messy.

Thing is, how in the world did the PAD protestors manage to sneak into the airport? This is simply outrageous.

Anything can happen now. I will not be surprised if the army moves in to take over the country.

Still, my coordinates tell me that the King's birthday falls on 5th December and he has appeared in public on the afternoon of 4th.

Which means, the PAD rascals, royalists as they claim to be, may have disappear before that.

But time is not on my side.

So, could you guys please buzz off the BKK airport? As in, tomorrow morning?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stranded in Thailand?

Oh oh, am now in Chiang Mai and due to fly back to Kansai tomorrow night via Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Don’t think I can make it as the PAD protesters are still occupying the airport at this time.

My clothes are already stinking and I need to fly home.
Been here since 18th November and work is piling up back home.

Am not so well informed on Thai politics but apparently this PAD, the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy is taking the law too much into their hands.
Serves no good to everyone, not even to themselves, I think.

Was in Chiang Mai for the first three days and flew to Bangkok to spend three nights, after which I flew back to Chiang Mai once again.
The taxi man who took me to Suvarnabhumi from my hotel in Bangkok commented that the protesters are crazy.

'No work to do, and they get paid 500 or 1000 baht each to go protest'.
And today, my counterpart at Chiang Mai University said that there is a new meaning to PAD: People Against Democracy.

Personally, I think they are doing Thailand and thousands of the flying public a big disservice.

I hope a solution is coming up soon.
Otherwise, ooh...