We booked a flight through Eva Air to Bangkok with a brief layover in Taipei. It was a red-eye (I think most of the flights to the far East from Seattle are) leaving at 12:20 am. 12 hours to Taipei + 2.5 hours layover + 4 hours to Bangkok + 16 hour time zone difference = 2 exhausted travelers! We were very impressed with Eva Air. The service and food were both excellent. We were served dinner at about 1:30 am, which I guess was dinner time in Taipei. The flight was relatively smooth; we were both able to get a little bit of sleep. My one complaint about the flight was that the toilets were in the center of the plane, parallel to the rows of seats rather than on the sides. Every time someone opened the door, there would be a burst of light which unfortunately would wake me up. I have never been on a plane with that particular design before. At 1:30 am (Taipei time) they turned up the cabin lights to serve us breakfast. We landed in Taipei at about 5:30 am.
In Taipei we did not need to go through immigration, but did have to go through a brief security checkpoint before finding our gate. With 2 and a half hours to kill we decided to go in search of coffee. It was so early that only one restaurant was open. We ended up chatting with a man that had been seated in front of us on the flight from Seattle. He was headed to Chang Mai to visit his girlfriend. After he left, another man came to sit with us and talk. He was originally from Washington State but had retired to a town in the far north of Thailand, near the border. He was anxious to speak English with us; once he headed back to his home, he did not have people that he could converse with in his native tongue. He said that he was able to live comfortably on his social security payment in northern Thailand. His apartment cost $96/month, with another $25/month going to utilities. Quite economical, indeed!
Our flight to Bangkok was smooth. Eva Air fed us another nice meal. It’s shocking to have meals provided on a flight; we are used to airlines in the US where you are lucky to get a small bag of pretzels. After disembarking, we headed to the immigration line. I think it took us a little over 1/2 hour to get through immigration. We headed to the cash machine to pick up enough Bahts to pay for a cab to the hotel and then snagged our luggage. Since we had nothing to declare we were able to walk through customs and head to the taxi area. There is a kiosk inside the building where you enter how large of a cab you need and are then given a ticket that directs you to a taxi lane. We headed to lane 24 where a lovely pink taxi was waiting for us. Our hotel was in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok which is about 28 miles from the airport.
Bangkok is famous for its traffic and though it was the middle of the day, did not disappoint. The drive reminded us of our visit to India; the same mix of cars, motorcycles/scooters, and tuk-tuks. And, the drivers seemed to have the same level of skill (or lack thereof). The buildings resembled many that we had seen in Mumbai as well; many were quite run down. As we got closer to our destination we also saw skyscrapers. So far, Bangkok looked like any large city; nothing unique (yet). But, we knew that there was more to it than what we had seen so far.
We were thrilled when we arrived at our hotel. We were booked in a corner suite at the U Sukhumvit Bangkok. One nice feature of the hotel is that there is no set check-in or check-out time; you pay for 24 hours. On our last trip we always had to wait until the official check-in time before being able to go to our room. We arrived at our Bangkok hotel at around 1 pm so were really happy that we could check in immediately; we were exhausted! And, we were hot. The temperature was in the low 90’s and quite humid. Check-in was painless. We were given a selection of soaps to choose from for our room as well as a being able to select what type of tea we wanted. We were also given a voucher for a free happy hour (free drinks from 5-8 pm on the day of our choice), a 20% off dinner voucher, and 2 free beverages from the mini-bar. We also would be provided with 4 bottles of water daily which was invaluable. We were escorted to our room and could finally relax.
We had already decided that we did not want to do any sightseeing on our first day; nor did we want to nap. We have found that the best way to deal with jetlag is to immediately adapt to the new time zone. In other words, stay up until you would normally go to bed. We had an early dinner at the hotel (killer pad thai) and watched some tv. By 6 pm, Clayton was sound asleep. By 6:30, I couldn’t keep my eyes open either. So, those plans of staying up late didn’t really pan out. We both slept until 5:30 the next morning.
The hotel breakfast was outstanding. After breakfast we were ready to head out and explore!