Posts Tagged ‘thailand’

Not many updates on here recently, but then again, I’ve had an unprecedented six weeks at home.  I’ve just about gotten into the swing of things in Basel.  I’ve stopped asking Aude to arrange a ‘wake-up call’ each morning.  I don’t look for my newspaper outside the bedroom door anymore.  And I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that, no matter how hard I try, the cats simply will not give the same respect to the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the doorknob that housekeeping does.

Back on the road again for a very quick trip to Bangkok to host a two-day workshop, then onto London for a day of meetings.  It was my first trip to Bangkok since the riots, and it was reassuring to see that everything was getting back to normal.  Same friendly faces in the hotel (many of whom now recognise me) and same smiling faces in the streets.  It’s always a pleasure to return to Thailand.

Since I was stopping over in London, I decided to throw some business BA’s direction.  It was the weekend after the Basel Tattoo, and it turns out the entire Royal Air Force Fife & Drum Brigade was on my flight.  That excitement aside, arrived in London and briefly got my first taste of LHR T5 – but, disappointingly, it was only an amuse bouche as my flight was leaving from T3.  Headed to the lounge for a quick massage and a light dinner, then boarded the flight.  Managed to snag my favourite seat, 63K, on the upper deck and settled in for a great flight – it reminded me again of how much I like BA’s product and service, and I still think that their seat is wonderful for its privacy and their bed is the most comfortable in the sky.

I arrived in Bangkok mid-afternoon.  I had a great seafood dinner, and treated myself to a two-hour massage – the perfect antidote to a thirteen-hour flight.

My workshops went well, although my head nearly exploded after a four-hour discussion of the finer points of Thai Withholding tax.

Another great BA flight, this time shared with the Australian Men’s Volleyball Team, and a short-sleep later I was back in London. Aude took the opportunity to join me in London for the weekend.  We hit the sales hard and came back loaded with full suitcases, and we also had a chance to visit with old friends and Aude’s brother and sister-in-law. 

A full English breakfast

Back to London to enjoy a healthy full-English breakfast


I’d forgotten how grubby London is.  Maybe I’m spoiled because I live in Switzerland, where everything is clinically clean, but London really is gross.  Streets covered in rubbish, dust, newspapers and vomit.  Is this really the cultural capital of Europe?

We arrived back in Switzerland on Sunday evening, just in time to be treated to a wonderful fireworks display for Swiss National Day, also marking our first year in Switzerland.  It was quite a week.

Neil will probably criticise me for not including pictures with this entry, but sometimes you have to let your imagination do the work.  My bag was stuffed full, and I was too lazy to pull out my camera.

I’m currently on my way from Switzerland to Taipei, by way of Bangkok, where the “red shirt” protests are in full swing. I’m delighted to report that I made it in-and-out of Bangkok with no problem.  I managed to have a couple of massages at the airport, part of the pleasure of flying through Asia.  It’s never a burden to have a few hours to kill at Bangkok Airport.  Between the massages, the great lounges, the good food, and the excellent shopping, there’s plenty to pass a few hours without too much pain.  I know everyone raves about Singapore Airport, but for me, BKK takes the cake.

There are so many things about Asia I enjoy.  Little things, things I forget about until I’m reminded of them again.  Delicious minced pork buns at the Thai lounge, washed down with a Meh Kong and soda.  Rose apples, something I’ve never seen outside of Asia, being served for dessert.  The wonderfully warm, welcoming smile of the Thais.  It’s not by accident that I ended up with Asia as my responsibility.

I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks.  A week in Taiwan, a country I’ve never visited, should be a great excuse to explore.  And then I’m back to China, to Beijing and Dalian, with a colleague who knows both cities well, so I’ll have a guide of sorts.


Finally made it to Sydney after a long, long flight.  Screaming baby behind me for nine hours, which meant that I didn’t get much sleep.  Delightful parents who thought that a business-class seat made a much nicer changing table than the changing table in the bathroom.  Particularly delightful since they decided to release their little darling’s stink bomb just before dinner was served.  Thank goodness they don’t have ejector seats on commercial flights.  I was sorely tempted to pull the handle.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the photo here shows a baggage tag.  Yes, I succumbed.  Due to the new security regulations in India, you can only carry on a single item of less than 8kg.  So my cunning plan of spending 11 days in Asia with only hand luggage was thwarted, meaning I had to wait 20 minutes for my bags to come off the belt in Sydney.

I obviously don’t match the description of an agricultural smuggler, so I was waved through customs, agriculture, and quarantine and straight into a taxi to the hotel.

Despite quite a lot of time traveling the globe, I’m still not a whiz with time zones.  So it didn’t come as a total surprise to receive a phone call at 11pm while enjoying a beer in the hotel bar – my bi-weekly call with one of my colleagues.  We’d very carefully arranged the call to be after I’d finished my business day in Mumbai.  I’d calculated the hour just fine.  I’d screwed up the day.  Luckily he’s also got pan-Asian responsibility, and is understanding of mix-ups like these.

Slept like a log last night, and woke up today feeling refreshed.  It’s warm and sunny today, and I’m headed out like Tommy Tourist, in a tee-shirt (okay, who are we kidding…a polo shirt) and camera in tow.

Well, it’s been a pretty full 24 hours.  After a very full day in Mumbai, I finished my workshop and headed out to the airport to catch my flight to Bangkok, then onwards to Sydney.  Mumbai traffic is legendary – the roads are normally jammed in the small hours of the morning when most international flights come and go.  But my flight last night left earlier, so we fought our way out to the airport at the peak of rush-hour.  Driving in India is not for the faint-hearted.  I always end up with a few more gray hairs.

It was a good trip – both professionally, as I got a lot accomplished, but also personally.  My Indian colleagues have discovered that I like to eat, and are showing me some of Mumbai’s best restaurants.  We went out last night for super seafood, including delicious garlic crab – whole crab sautéed with loads of butter and garlic.  It’s the second time I’ve had it in Mumbai – and both times, I’ve made myself sick by overdoing it with the rich, spicy concoction.  The pleasure’s worth the pain in this case.

I made my way through the throngs of people outside the airport, through check-in, customs, and security.  The airport in Mumbai really is the pits – I’ve been through plenty of unpleasant, grotty airports in my time – but it’s the inefficiency, the crowds, the dirt, and the hassle that make Mumbai top my list.

Finally through to the departure lounge, I had a few hours to kill.  After four days of curry, I decided to treat myself to a KFC for dinner (never let it be said I’ve lost touch with the common man).  Across from the fast food court there is a massage hall – where the massage is performed by blind masseuses.  So I treated myself to a foot massage.

I flew Thai to Bangkok.  The flight to Bangkok was uneventful, but the service was such a contrast the Swiss service I had the other day.  Friendly, attentive, and constantly trying to please.  The seat was rubbish, uncomfortable for sleeping – when I finally find the airline that combines the flat seat with the great service and convenient routes, I’ll be a convert for life.  (BA would win my business if it didn’t mean constant backtracking, and sadly my travel budget doesn’t stretch to Singapore on regular basis.)

Thai Airways Lounge at BKK - Closed

Not the sign you want to see at 4:30am when you've just arrived from Mumbai, desperate for a shower

My flight arrived in Bangkok on schedule at 4:30am.  I went straight through customs and security, only to be turned away at the lounge because it didn’t open until 5:15am.  After a few fitful hours of sleep on the flight from Mumbai, this was not a pleasant surprise.  I made a quick phone call home, then hit the lounge for a shower as soon as it opened.

The spa opened at 6am, so I headed over to have a shoulder massage before I boarded my flight to Sydney.  Two massages in a day might be a little indulgent, but they were in different countries, so I chalk it up to one of the benefits of being a global traveler.

Time to jump onto my next flight to Sydney.  Next update from down under!

Flight TG451 to Sydney, Thai Airways Airbus 340-600

My plane awaits: flight TG451 to Sydney

A few last shots from Bangkok during the daylight. I had a room on the top floor of the hotel — seemed a shame to waste the view.

Bangkok skyline

Bangkok skyline

Bangkok skyline

Bangkok skyline, with the Chao Phraya river in the background

I always enjoy staying in hotels in Asia. Great food, good service, and generally speaking, beautiful décor.

I sent my laundry out yesterday. Like the last time I was in Bangkok, it all came back individually shrink-wrapped, with neat little cardboard bowties attached to each of my shirts.

Shirts with cardboard bowties

Hotel laundry, shrink-wrapped and complete with cardboard bowties

I have given up trying to be ecologically-friendly in Asia. There’s no way I can change an entire continent. They like their packaging, they like their plastic, they don’t recycle anything (at least, not that I can tell) – hey, that’s just part of life here.

I also managed to have some great room service. After God knows how many disappoint $25 hamburgers I’ve eaten in my travels across the US and Europe, having a tray of really delicious food sent up is a real treat.

Room service

Room service, Asian-style. Beats a soggy, greasy burger any day.

My virtual golf was not an overwhelming success. It’s tougher work than it looks, and my performance on the course suggests that I might want to reduce my handicap a little before they’ll let me onto the real Old Course.

I’m off to Calcutta this evening – and a new adventure begins!