Sunday, 13 March 2011

9. If it’s Monday, I must be somewhere

Vorawan Laundry, Silom Soi 14

John Littlechild
Thai food at Sphinx Restaurant
Actually, I am in Bangkok. But this evening I will be in Saigon. Which is also called Ho Chi Minh City, which is a tad confusing. Especially as I am already beginning to wonder where I am and what day of the week it is.
I’ve very much enjoyed my few days here, especially as I have been pottering around gently rather than hurtling about as would many a first time visitor.
Being a journalist, I’ve been especially transfixed by some of the images coming out of Japan after the earthquake and Tsunami. I fear there is much worse news still to come.
I’ve been touched by the many friends who have contacted me to express concern for my safety. Luckily, 28 floors up in Bangkok is a long way for the sea to reach!
But, having very much enjoyed a visit to Japan in recent years, my thoughts have been with the folk there. Also with the people in Christchurch, overtaken by the news agenda, where I shall be in a few weeks.
I use a great website to read newspapers when I am travelling. It is www.pressdisplay.com. Wherever I am in the world, I can see the actual newspaper, not just the online version. There’s also a companion app for my iPad called Press Reader, which allows me to download the whole paper and read it wherever I happen to be. It’s actually cheaper than buying the hard copy of the newspaper and I rate the product very highly indeed.
Last night, I caught up with an old chum from my seafaring days. John Littlechild and I served together in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in the mid 1970’s and it was great to chat about old times. John, who is now 72, feels, like many expats, that the UK is heading in the wrong direction and he has no real desire to return to the country of his birth.
We have an excellent Thai meal at one of his old favourites, the Sphinx, in Silom Soi 4. But it’s clear from the few people about that the tourism industry here is still suffering. John tells me the whole of the country is a lot quieter than normal, despite what the authorities try to say. (I wonder where I have heard that before!).
He’s expressed surprise that I had such a pleasant experience arriving at Suvarnabhumi, the real name for Bangkok International Airport and has advised me to leave plenty of time for checking in and clearing immigration and customs.

I’m not pleased with Thai Airlines. Having confirmed my seat reservation over a month ago, they have switched me to another seat without any thought as to my personal preferences. I absolutely hate when airlines do that, especially when they don’t bother to tell you. I only found out because I checked in for the flight this morning on my iPad.
They tell me that my previously allocated and confirmed seat and its neighbour is reserved for passengers travelling with infants and I am even more thrilled to discover that they have moved me to the one immediately adjacent in my absolute no-go area of the centre aisle. Oh Joy.
I have asked – by email and telephone - for it to be changed back, but don’t hold your breath.


My Thai and Vietnam photos will be at
https://picasaweb.google.com/MDSouter/AroundTheWorldIn60DaysThailandAndVietnam#

POSTSCRIPT

Gracious me! I forgive Thai Airlines everything. I went swimming in the 5th floor pool at the Sofitel Silom, and, by the time I return an hour or so later, there is an email from Sunathee Isvarphornchai, VP of Thai's Corporate Comms department. Accepting that most westerners can't cope with the pronunciation of multiple syllable names, he signs his email simply as 'Pat'. But not, as yet, my invitation to write for the airline's in-flight magazine. Maybe it's been mailed to Europe?
There's also a handwritten message under my door, from his PA telling me that my original seat assignment has been restored.
Thankyou Pat, very impressive service.
If there's a screaming infant, I will report further.