From Taipei to Bangkok (Feb 21-23): Two Flights and an Odd Coincidence

Well since the last time I wrote, I’ve already went to two counties! I got to the Taipei airport three hours before my flight to Kuala Lumpur (at 1:20pm). Surprisingly when I checked in, they didn’t ask for proof of onward travel. They DID, however, ask me to put my bag on the scale. Uh oh… it was the first time that I’ve been asked to weigh my bag and I knew that I’d definitely be over 7kg – I just didn’t know by how much. I hesitantly placed my big bag on the scale (hiding my handbag behind the counter, which had all of my heavy electronics). 8.5kg…. I was expecting the worst, like having to pay $100 per kilogram and waited to hear how much I’d have to pay. “Okay,” she said, and placed my passport and boarding pass on the counter. What? Really? Okay, I’ll take it! I didn’t have to talk to anyone at custom control (so no new stamp on my passport) – all I had to do was scan my fingerprints before being let through the little gate. Security was also pretty smooth so I got through a lot fast than expected. The first thing I did was convert all of my Taiwanese dollars (except 300 for lunch) into US dollars because I’ve been told that you can’t convert them outside of Taiwan. I then went to find some food, but found out that there were only two restaurants on the other side. How were there no restaurants in an airport? One of the restaurants was high-class (with dishes costing way over 300THB), and the other one was middle-priced (with dishes starting from 180THB). I found a cafe and just got a salad and caramel macchiato for 280THB ($12.45), which was a lot more than I was used to spending on a meal.

I thought that setting aside 300THB would be more than enough, but I guess not! I FaceTimed my sister while eating my meal and waited to check in. The flight was just over 4 hours so I arrived after 5:30pm. I had to take the bus back into Kuala Lumpur, so I followed the signs to the bus. However when I arrived, there were a whole bunch of bus companies selling tickets around Malaysia. I definitely didn’t recognise this area! I walked around for a bit and finally saw a stand that said KL Sentral, so I bought a ticket for 12 ringgit ($3.92AUD) and waited for the bus. The bus ride was an hour long, and then I had to take the metro to where my hostel was. This time, I was staying at Marquee Guest Houzz (which has now changed its name to ZigZag Travellers Home), and I had to pay 23 ringgit ($7.90) for the night in a 6-bed female dorm. I was pretty hungry since it was after 8pm and I was actually really looking forward to having an Indian meal. Conveniently, my hostel was located in the Central Market so there was an Indian restaurant called Yusoof Dan Zakhir right next door. I ordered butter chicken with garlic naan and a tea tarik (milk tea) for 13.50 ringgit ($4.41), and it was delicious!

I love my Asian food, no matter what the cuisine!

On Friday morning, I got up and had breakfast at the hostel before walking around for a bit. My hostel was right beside Chinatown so I walked around the Central Market and Chinatown until about noon. Then, I made my way back to the hostel to pick up my stuff, took the metro back to KL Sentral, and got a bus back to the airport to catch my flight at 4pm. I was taking my time since I had ended up going through so quickly the day before. I wasn’t in a huge rush to get there three hours early since I had already checked in online – I only needed to get my boarding pass printed out. The first thing that I should tell you is that Kuala Lumpur airport (KLIA) has two terminals that are about 1.5km away from each other. I was trying to find out what terminal I had to get to, but I couldn’t find an actual answer (even my email and ticket didn’t say). I decided to go to KLIA2 since it would be the 4th time that I’d arrive or depart from there. I arrived at the airport at around 1:30 and checked the departure list to make sure I was in the right terminal. 4pm flight to Bangkok? Check. So I walked the 5-minute walk through all of the shops and up all of the escalators to the check-in desks. I searched for where the 4pm flight was located and walked to that section, but I could only find signs for Air Asia and I was flying with Malindo Air. Confused, I circled back to the departure board and checked it again. 4pm… Bangkok.. and then I looked at the flight number and compared it to my phone. Wrong one… Learn from my mistakes, people! Just because it’s the same time with same destination doesn’t mean it’s the same flight! I went to the information booth to double-check and he said that I’d have to take the shuttle bus to KLIA1. I ran back down the escalators, bought a ticket for 2 ringgit (65 cents) and saw that the next shuttle wasn’t for another 25 minutes, at 2:27. They come every half hour, so I must have JUST missed one. I tried to remain calm, and convinced myself that I’d still have 45 minutes to get my boarding pass, go through custom control, go through security, and hopefully get something to eat before the 3:15 boarding time. The other thing that I should mention about flying to Thailand is that in most cases, they will always ask for proof of onward travel because the airline doesn’t want to be stuck having to pay for your return ticket to leave the country. I’ve researched so much about this – I’ve read blogs, and it sounded like I’d have no choice but to find a ticket to prove that I’m leaving the country in less than 30 days (I was planning to leave by boat into Laos, so I couldn’t really provide a ticket). I’ve heard that there are rent-a-ticket sites, where you can pay 20 euro and they’ll print out a fake ticket for you. I’ve also heard of people buying cheap tickets to Singapore for 30 dollars that they won’t use. I even read that if you book on expedia, you can cancel your ticket within 24 hours and get all of your money back (which is what I was planning to do if I was forced to buy a ticket). I decided not to plan ahead this time so I could cross that bridge when I got to it. And thank goodness I did because when I finally got to the check-in counter, no questions were asked. And I probably would have been pretty mad if I went through all of the trouble of getting a ticket and didn’t even have to show it. Anyway, I went over to custom control and the line was so long. At least 15-20 minutes… I waited my turn, went to my officer who said something to the officer beside him. Then the officer beside him said, “Miss, he says you’re very beautiful.” “What? I didn’t say that, he’s lying!” “Yes, he said that. He’s just shy.” It was definitely nice that it wasn’t so serious for a change. He then flipped through my passport and laughed at the notes that I had written saying not to stamp any of the empty pages, then handed me my passport and let me through. I saw a sign that said flights to any gates that start with C have to take the Aerotrain. I looked down and guess which gate number I had to go through? One with a C, of course. By that point, it was 2:55pm so I still had 20 minutes until boarding time, and luckily the wait for the next train and the time to get to the gates was less than 5 minutes. We then had to go through security, but it wasn’t “official” security – there were signs saying that we could still carry our water bottles through. Finally, I was through! I was starving and had less than 15 minutes left, so I went to Boost to get a mango-lychee smoothie (which are way cheaper than the Boost smoothies in Australia!), and then I ran over to Burger King to get a burger. However, the person working there was so slow and she’d do everything with the least effort possible, while eating fries in between. It almost got to the point where I was going to walk away because I had been waiting in line for ten minutes and there were only two people in front of me when I got there. FINALLY, I got to the front of the line, ordered a double cheeseburger, and ran to my gate. However, I completely forgot that I still hadn’t went through ACTUAL security, which was right at my gate. I ate my burger as fast as I could, and then drank my smoothie even faster (while taking breaks in between brain freezes), and when I was the last person on the other side of security, I went through. I got to the other side and sat down while we all watched the suitcases being loaded onto the plane. They put on the last bag, closed it, but for some reason we still weren’t boarding. And then 4pm hit and we still weren’t boarding. Finally at about ten minutes after 4, an announcement came on saying that they had some technical difficulties and they’d let us know of our new boarding time. So those last two hours of stress were all for nothing… great! The worst part about being on that side of security was even though we weren’t allowed to bring any liquids through, they didn’t have any vending machines or water refill stations. By about 5pm, I really started getting thirsty so I did something frowned upon in the world of flying.. I left my bag sitting there and left. I had to set my boarding pass on the counter, go out, and walk about 5-10 minutes until I finally found a water refill station, which seemed to be the only one in the entire area. I went back, had to re-go through security, and grabbed my boarding pass from the counter (although I easily could have grabbed anyone else’s, or they mine, as no one was manning the counter), and sat back down. Finally after just over an hour and a half, we were asked to board the plane (apparently they were having lavatory issues, so we had to wait for them to fix it). It was then that they handed out water but they ran out of straws, so the water was inaccessible because the plastic would just rip anytime you tried to open it. I sat down and ended up getting the entire row to myself, which was great! I decided to finish watching the movie that I had started on my last Malindo flight nearly 7 weeks ago (Aloha). They soon handed out toasted sandwiches with a muffin.

I arrived in Bangkok two hours later but had lost an hour, so it was only 7pm. However, there was another plane still in our loading bay (of course) so we had to wait about 15 minutes until we could get off of the plane. The airline also didn’t hand out arrival cards, so everyone was frantically looking for them when we got to border control (so thumbs down for Malindo this time.. if it weren’t for the food and entertainment making up for everything). I finally got through, bought a 7-day SIM card for 180 baht ($7.85), and then needed to find out how to get to my hostel, which was by the railway station. I asked one information booth where to go and they directed me to the other side of the airport and told me to go to the second floor and then when I got there, they directed me to the side that I was just on and told me to go to the second floor. I was wasting more time than anything, so I just decided to catch the A1 bus to Mo Chit terminal for 30THB ($1.31) and then take the metro to Hua Lamphong station. I finally got to my hostel just after 9pm. I was staying at Loftel Station Hostel for 250 baht ($11.16) for the night in a 10-bed mixed dorm. At about 9:30pm, I decided to go for dinner back at Supa, where I had my Christmas Eve dinner the last time I was in Bangkok. Most of the restaurants (including this one) closed at 10pm so I wanted to go somewhere close. I decided to get a green curry dish with rice for 130baht ($5.67).

I headed back to the hostel at around 10:30pm and the weirdest thing happened. There was only one person sitting in the lobby, who happened to be a Canadian guy who I had met at my hostel in Skopje, Macedonia nearly two years ago(!). What are the odds that we would choose the same hostel on the same night in two different continents?! I think he was just as shocked as I was! After talking for a bit, we found out that we had both booked the same night train to Chiang Mai the following day (a ticket that I had booked months ago, before I even started my trip). So crazy!! Anyway, we said goodnight and went to bed, as I had a doctor appointment the next morning at 9:30.

On Saturday morning, I got up at 8:30, got ready for the day, and went to go for my doctor’s appointment at the Thai Travel Clinic. Back when I was there on Christmas Eve, I got bloodwork done to find out if I was immune to the chicken pox (because I only had a few pox as a child). I didn’t realise that I’d have to come BACK to the travel clinic to get the results… so here I was nearly two months later, ready to find out if I was immune to chicken pox or not. I decided to take a Grab Bike because 1) it would only take 12 minutes to drive and likely over an hour to take public transport, 2) a Grab bike was over half the price of a regular Grab, and 3) it was actually the same price, if not cheaper than public transport (at 56 baht/$2.44 for the trip). I requested my Grab bike, he showed up with a helmet, I got on and we were on our way. He started the trip by going down the wrong lane on a main road, which didn’t help put me at ease but I realised that I made a great decision when we started weaving in and out of traffic. He dropped me off, I went upstairs and I actually finished my appointment before my appointment was supposed to start. They got me to take my blood pressure and weigh myself (I’ve definitely gained weight since the last appointment, with the amount of food I’ve eaten) and then I was called into the room. The doctor was really nice and showed me the piece of paper that came up as positive, so I didn’t have to worry about getting chicken pox. Unfortunately, just getting this information ended up costing 450baht ($19.53). I requested another Grab bike to take me to the 12Go office, where I had my reserved train ticket for that evening. The driver dropped me off right after 10am, which was right when they opened! I got my ticket to go from Ayutthaya at 19:45 and arrive in Chiang Mai the next day at 7:15am. I then walked back to the hostel and ordered coffee and breakfast (which was toast slices with a soft-boiled egg).

I headed to the train station at about 11:30 and asked for a ticket to Ayutthaya, but the next train wasn’t until 12:55 so I had about an hour to kill. I found a coffee shop, ordered an iced tea, and waited. But I’ll save my trip to Ayutthaya for another post! Love always

One thought on “From Taipei to Bangkok (Feb 21-23): Two Flights and an Odd Coincidence

  1. It’s a different mentality with border control/ immigration in the east as opposed to the west: in the west border control/ immigration treats everyone as a potential criminal or illegal immigrant looking to enter the country to work illegally, but in the east they treat you as a legitimate entrant. It’s a breath of fresh air being treated differently!

    Enjoy Asia!

    nataliesdailylife.wordpress.com

    Like

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