Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bangkok: Getting there

I left home around ten in the morning on January 21 to take a bus into Seoul, to metro to Incheon, to fly to Bangkok.  I ate in the airport before my flight, as I wasn't sure if we'd be served any food.  We were served dinner on the plane, which I ate not because I was hungry but because it was in front of me.  This didn't make my stomach feel the greatest, and I had menstrual cramps on top of it all.  I was in the window seat, with an older Korean couple on my right, so I didn't get up once during the flight. I was quite uncomfortable and didn't sleep a wink.

So I arrive at the Bangkok airport at 20:30 local time (22:30 Korea time) and follow the signs to the Airport Rail line, also looking for the ATM I read about with the best exchange rate.  I finally get to the right floor, find the ATM, and pull out my card to use it.

The transaction cannot be completed.  It says something about contacting your bank right before the last step.  I put in a travel notice with this debit card a week before the trip, because I know you need to do that when traveling.  So what was going on?

I try another ATM.  Doesn't work.  I start to get worried.

So I try another.  Doesn't work.

I'm so exhausted, I decide to just take the Airport Rail line to my hostel and figure it out in the morning.  Except then I find out the machines to get tickets only take cash.  Blargh!

I remembered seeing some internet/international phone call machines a few floors up, so I take the escalators back up and try calling the number on the back of my debit card.  I can't get any of these phones to work.  The first one was actually going through but the call was so scratchy, nothing could be heard.

So I move to the next machine in line, follow the touch-screen directions, insert my credit card, then dial the number -- but it doesn't make the call, just goes back to the home screen.  What the heck.  I'm really frustrated now; my lack of sleep and the previous day of travel do not help my mental state.

I try again, follow instructions, insert credit card, dial the number.  No go.

What to do, what to do.  Finally I go to a currency exchange booth, hand over the few Korean won I happened to have in my wallet and get it exchanged to Thai Baht.  I have no idea what the exchange rate was but I didn't care, I just wanted some Baht in my hand to buy the Airport Rail metro fare.

And I got just that, then headed back down the escalators to the Airport Rail.  Paid for my token (not ticket) just fine, waited for the train.  Once it finally got there, it was around 45 minutes to the end of the line, my stop.  I found the hostel easy enough, checked in, told them I couldn't get cash out of the ATMs (would pay for hostel later -- no problem, they said), and went straight to bed.

So had a little road bump at the start of an incredible time in Bangkok.  It'll take some time for me to write about everything I did, saw, and ate during those 10 days, so in the meantime here's a sneak peek of what's to come:

I'm back to work tomorrow - not sure if we'll have students or not (I don't know exactly when winter break ends), but I'll find out soon enough!
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