Having left the islands earlier than I had planned I had 5 nights in Bangkok. I did not get to see any of Bangkok as I stayed close to the airport in an industrial area. Thailand is pretty much on lockdown with only food shops and markets open so there would have been nothing to see and I didn’t feel it appropriate to venture anywhere far.
The nightly curfew kicks in at 10pm. Alcohol sales have been forbidden from 10-20th April to discourage social gatherings during Songkran, which is Thailand’s most famous festival. It’s an important event on the Buddhist calendar, the water festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. I like the idea of an alcohol ban but as expected there were very long non-social distancing queues to stock up before the deadline.
Everytime you enter a supermarket you will have your temperature taken. You get used to it but I must say I panicked a little when my usual 36.2 turned into a 37.2 at one shop. I need to get to the airport with a normal temperature.
Being the prepared traveller that I am I had a thermometer back at the hotel and was able to self-Diagnose, phew I’m fine.
One thing I’ve learnt is that booking a flight directly with the airline gives you a lot more support, they take more responsibility for you.
I booked my Aeroflot Tickets through Expedia. They do not have anyway of contacting them via email and screenshots from customers on twitter showed that is was taking anything up to 16 hours on hold to speak to someone about a flight. I received an email on 31st march to tell me my flight would be cancelled and I would receive airline credit in an email shortly. To date I have had nothing, nor do I know how to use it. In an ideal situation it would of been Expedia flight credit allowing me to book myself a flight home. Instead I’ve had to book a separate flight and hope that I can somehow fight for a cash refund, be it with Expedia or through a credit card charge-back. The difficulty lies in that I’ve used one half of the ticket.
I’ve rebooked with Qatar airways and although they have had to cancel and reschedule flights, I’ve been able to do that easily enough. I queried the status of a flight underneath someone’s tweet in regards to Bangkok airport, and Qatar support team intervened and asked me to send them a message and were able to offer me new flights there and then.
Reading some of the tweets I fully appreciate how much of a laid back traveller I am. Yes I had a couple of wobbles that I needed to talk through with Stephen and my decision making process was overwhelmed but every decision has got me one step closer to getting on that flight.
So here we are, flight day. I arrive in Bangkok airport nearly 5 hours before my flight as I’m sitting around the hotel lobby anyway. I get my temperature taken and get a purple sticker stuck on me, I’m good to go.
Still too early to check in. The airport is quiet, only a hand full of flights are leaving tonight.
I usually leave queuing right till the last minute but thought it was safer ( on Chelle’s advice) to get checked in. Chelle had seen the issue in Lanzarote where not everyone booked onto the flight got a seat due to distancing. Nicely scared I went and queued.
I was surprised that there wasn’t another temperature control on the way through security.
Even at the airport it was only food shops that were open, no duty free or any of the upmarket brand shops they have in the airport.
I was seated in a full row of 3 people which I was a little disappointed with, flight must be full. Nope, lots of spare seats and I bag myself a full row of 4 and nap my way to Doha.
Doha airport again was closed up. Couple of food shops and not too many flights leaving.
I boarded my Heathrow flight and again had a full 4 seats to myself. I managed to doze for about half the flight then made use of their great entertainment on offer.
Every airport I transited, the staff were wearing masks. In Heathrow the only precaution was to distance in the queues. I understand the mask thing hasn’t been proven but it was strange to see the difference when I’ve been subjected to masks for the last 4 weeks. Another empty airport.
3 hour wait and I’m off. Last flight home to Belfast. It’s been a very smooth travel experience. Of course I’m disappointed I couldn’t transit via Moscow as planned and see the city after the hoops I had to jump through to get a visa for entry, but this is not a good time to see the world.
I’m glad that Qatar airways are still flying and helping people to get home but I’m not sure how much longer that will last. Their money in bound to run out sometime soon when flights are only 1/4 full. I’m really impressed with their service and their cabin crew were great.
It’s hard to remember why I was in Thailand. Oh yes, yoga teacher training. Now I need to get some practice in and see how all these online classes are working. This will be an experience to remember. I’m knackered but there’s no place like home.