Have you ever been indifferent towards something but then completely become enthusiastic soon after you tried it? That’s exactly what happened to me on my first ever visit to Thailand, and this is the story of how I fell in love with Bangkok.
Bangkok is the world’s most visited city in 2016 (as per MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index) with over 21 million visitors, but I’m not really that into it. For most of my life I’ve lived in a city (Quezon City in Metro Manila, Philippines) so an urban destination hardly excites me. But since I’ve never been to Thailand and I’m always open to any opportunity to travel and see more of the world, I kept an open mind and did my research. That started my interest with this bustling city.
I was lucky that I know some people who have been to Bangkok so I wasn’t starting from scratch. And based on their feedback, I was able to narrow down on which part of the city to stay. And because the word “traffic” kept popping up whenever I read online articles about Bangkok, my main criteria for choosing a hotel is ease of access from the airport and the trains. As someone who lives in an urban area with very bad traffic and poor public transportation (particularly going in and out of the airport), I know the struggle so I don’t want to encounter that abroad. Eventually, we picked an area near the train stations and narrowed down our choices based on overall cost. But for me, it must have a swimming pool!
I admit I got overwhelmed with the number of hotels in Bangkok! I was also impressed at how nice the hotels were and amazed by how affordable they are. I can pick any hotel in Bangkok and it would only cost half that of a similar property in Manila! I literally had a headache just trying to pick one!
This is the general area I was looking at primarily because of the train lines
NAIA Terminal 2
Our journey to Bangkok started from Manila’s NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 2 (T2) on a Tuesday afternoon. I left home very, very early because I don’t want to arrive in the nick of time at the airport. There still are no trains leading to the airport of Manila so you’re at the mercy of traffic. You could get a nearby hotel but the closest one to T2 is still distant so there’s not much value (but very high cost) in doing so, so we just decided to commute very early. Thankfully, traffic towards the airport on a weekday mid-morning is actually not bad.
NAIA T2 is the first “modern” airport terminal of Manila but being in operation since 1999, it is anything but new and you can tell how inadequate it is now with its current passenger volume. This terminal is exclusively used by the flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), for both their international and domestic flights. There aren’t that many stores here, particularly for food, due to limited space so prices are preposterous even for the most mundane items. Even the restrooms were insufficient. On the good side though, there are a lot of seats and power outlets in the terminal and free Wi-Fi is also available. Note that if you’re using Philippine passport and you’re leaving as a tourist, you’d have to prepare an extra ₱1,620 for travel tax (credit card accepted, thankfully) before you can start your journey.
The Misadventure Begins
We didn’t have any issues with boarding but what happened next started a series of unfortunate events. Apparently, a passenger checked-in a baggage but did not show up during boarding and so we have to wait until his luggage was found and removed from the plane. This delay then caused us to miss our flight window (because even Manila’s air traffic is bad) and so we had to wait for the air traffic controllers to assign us a new window. And so, our three-hour flight became much longer than expected…
Our plane to Bangkok don’t offer any screens but they do offer in-flight entertainment using your own Wi-Fi-enabled devices. PAL does this via their myPAL Player (available for both iOS and Android). This app only works when you’re connected to the plane’s in-flight Wi-Fi so you can’t “test” it until you’re already flying. I recommend installing it if you’re flying with PAL.
I forgot to bring my headset though… 😀
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