Back to Bangkok

Thai Lying Air does it again! But this time I was prepared for their antics, so I came ready to negotiate. Chiang Mai International Airport has a weird system where you go through security when you first enter the airport, then again before heading to your gate. We went through the same routine of haggling over the bag price, with them first wanting to charge 6000 baht (nearly $200), and me talking them down to 4000 ($127), which is more than I paid the first time. I even saved the receipt of the baggage cost and weight from the first trip, they just tried telling me my bag was 10kg then and now it’s 20. Right, because I added 10kg (22 lbs.) worth of stuff to a large suitcase within 3 days. 🙄 I will never fly this airline again, certainly not by booking through a third party site, but I don’t think they deserve my business at all after their shady business practices. The original ticket back to Bangkok was $46, but it ended up costing me $322 with baggage to fly round trip to and from Chiang Mai from Bangkok, almost as much as my one way tickets to/from Bangkok from the US! Chiang Mai was definitely worth it, but unless you like arguing with people and haggling, don’t fly Thai Lying Air, you really need mental stamina to deal with them.At least I made my flight and arrived safely in Bangkok. I really did enjoy Thailand, the airports there just stress me out. First, they announced our baggage would be on carousel 9 (it also said this on a display board), and after watching the same lone suitcase go round and round for a good 10 minutes, an employee finally came over to tell us they changed the carousel number. Getting a taxi out of DMK is very inefficient, it’s like going to the DMV. You get a ticket and wait in a dingy waiting room that looks like a bus station until they call your number, then go up to a counter where they assign you a taxi driver. My driver didn’t speak much English, and even though I showed him the location on a map, I ended up having to call my hotel to give him directions. The ride was around 240 baht.

Stay: The Connex Asoke, 4 stars, $67/night. I finally arrived at my hotel in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit district at around 1:30pm (there’s a lot of traffic in/out of DMK airport in Bangkok, as I’ve said before), and at that time of day in the city. The Connex Asoke advertises itself as Bangkok’s newest luxury boutique hotel. The rooms and bathrooms were large and modern, and the bed was comfortable. My only complaint is there was no safe in the room. This ended up not being a problem for me since I didn’t even end up leaving the room! I had an early flight at 3am to Shanghai the following morning, so I set an alarm for 5pm, which I kept changing to a later time until finally I gave up on the idea of going out. I really wanted to explore the area and go to another highly rated vegetarian restaurant, May Veggie Home, which was right next to my hotel. This is why a trip to Asia from the US should really be done in 2 weeks; 1 just isn’t enough to see everything, and the jet lag is so bad. Sleep was more important than food!Entrance and lobby of the hotel. There was a cafe in the lobby.Room and bathroom.

It seemed the hotel was still undergoing some construction, and the area is very loud. They provided ear plugs in the room which was a nice touch even though I always bring them when I travel anyway. The design of this hotel actually reminded me of a 4-star Best Western I stayed at in Stockholm. I try to stay away from American chain hotels when I travel internationally because a Marriott is the same everywhere (in that case the Best Western definitely was not like a Best Western you’d find in the United States), but I like to experience the personalized local service in non-chain hotels. I booked all of my hotels on booking.com for this trip, and made sure to check reviews on google and Trip Advisor. I like this method because I chose hotels you didn’t have to pay for until arrival, in case anything got messed up on my itinerary in the course of my travels.Soi Cowboy is one of Bangkok’s famed red light districts. As you can see, I was staying a mere 800 ft away. Sukhumvit is Bangkok’s commercial center, known for its night life. I would have liked to walk through the area to people watch, but didn’t get a chance to because of my 9 hour “nap” (elephants and Buddhist temple tours are tiring!) Seeing the red light district and “lady boys” is probably high on a lot of tourists’ lists of things to do in Bangkok, but I also struggle with the ethical issue of “supporting” this in any way. After seeing how overworked and underpaid Thai masseuses are (and yes, I know the cost of living in Thailand is low so what I think of as a little money does go a long way in Thailand), the thought of taking pictures of these people selling their bodies for my blog seemed like exploitation. After my amazing experience at the elephant sanctuary, visiting Soi Cowboy just seemed sleazy, so I don’t feel like I missed out on much.I booked my return flight back to LA with a 12 hour layover in Shanghai on United ($404 including my checked bag, and it also included paying extra for the aisle seat.) Thai Lying Air, you’re really a rip off! The flight to Shanghai was actually with a partner Chinese airline, Juneyao, and I flew United back home from Shanghai. I still had some leftover baht, so I had a half hour or so to spend the equivalent of $70 in BKK International Airport. I was afraid shops would be closed in the middle of the night, but like Thailand itself, the airport was bustling.After watching a kid repeatedly sneeze all over one of these screens, I now wipe them down with Purell wipes as soon as I get on the plane. I also take a zinc tablet (cold-eeze) every other day while I’m traveling. Thus far it’s worked and I credit it with preventing me from getting sick from so many germ-ridden airports and planes. I would also really recommend carrying hand sanitizer with you in Thailand, especially if you partake in the street food scene.

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