Diary of Days – January to March 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One of our wonderful neighbors drove us to the train station in our village. The good wife of the neighbor came out to say good-bye and to make sure I had my Kindle with me. Last time we left for Thailand, I forgot my Kindle at home, and our neighbor and I sped back to the house. I dashed in and found my Kindle exactly where I had left it. Jumped into the car and drove like a bat out of hell back to the train station. I just managed to give him a quick hug and race up the steps to the train platform as the train was pulling in. Jørgen had already stamped our train ticket, so it was just grab a suitcase and run for the train. Made it. This time I had my Kindle and Jørgen, as usual, had allowed plenty of time for us to get to the train station.

Easier to take the train to the airport from our train station, as it is a direct line to the airport and we only have to take the escalator up to the check-in counters. We now have an automated ticket, which has Dkr 300.00 in the account. When the account goes down to Dkr 50.00, it automatically deposits Dkr 300.00 from our bank account again. So we never run short on our automated train ticket. The trip to the airport takes about 45 minutes and we don’t have to worry about traffic. If we were to take a taxi the fare would be about Dkr 600.00 compared to Dkr 55.00 each. The trains have special sections for bikes and luggage, so it is no trouble. The train is level with the platform, so you don’t have to worry about having to lift luggage up into the train.

When we got to the airport, it was almost empty. We had to search for the baggage drop-off. We had checked in electronically from home and, because we had upgraded to economy plus with our frequent mileage points, we already had our seats assigned. We both have silver cards with SAS, which entitles us to use the SAS lounge. Nice. Quiet. Free Wi-fi connection and comfortable lounge. Refreshments consist of wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and snacks. Sometimes the lounges provide mixed drinks. Copenhagen SAS lounge does not serve hard liquor. Jørgen always goes to watch sports and I relax and read on my Kindle. I always have 3-4 books on my Kindle, so finding something to read is no problem.

We had a hard time finding a passport control station open at the Copenhagen airport. I was just about to slip through some open doors, when the security or passport control agent caught me. When we got to the security check, we searched again until we found the only station open, so we got through the whole program in about 10-15 minutes. Since we had virtually no shopping to do we only got a bottle of Gammel Dansk and headed for the SAS Lounge.

Boarding the plane was easy, as we were among the last passengers to go on board. We have decided to fly SAS from now on. It is easy to book on line, upgrade with points or go on a waiting list for upgrade, choose our seats on line, and with the Silver card we now have, we get preferred customer treatment which means Business Class check-in and boarding, SAS lounge usage, and two suitcases each (not that we need that much luggage along). We have decided to upgrade to Economy Plus from now on by either using our points or by paying the extra. We usually book two seats next to each other. In Economy Plus there are three sections of two-, three- and two-seat configurations. The seats are a bit wider, there is more leg room, there is a foot rest, the food is better and the service is good. Not so concerned with the food, as it is better not to each so much on these long flights, but it nice to travel in a bit of comfort. The Economy Plus section has about the same number of seats as Business Class, so it is a small section. We do have to share the bathrooms with the economy class, but that was o.k, as the toilets are kept quite clean. This was a particularly pleasant flight, as there were no crying or screaming children on board.

There are always masses of people at the Savarnabhumi Airport, but the steady flow and the Passport Control personnel are usually pretty efficient. Once we got out of the Passport Control, we headed for section 5 of the airport to meet our driver, who stood there with our name on a sign. We don’t always have the same driver, but they are usually pretty good. Driver always takes our luggage, guides us to the passenger pick-up section and then leaves to get the car from the parking garage which is several levels and huge – at least compared to other airports. We then have the 2, 2-½ hour drive to Laem Mae Phim and our apartment. Several times we have had to stop to fill the car with petrol. You would think that by now the driver would know that he needs to leave for Bangkok with a full tank, but we had to stop. On one of our trips, the driver had trouble starting the car at the airport because he was so low on petrol. Once we got out of the airport, he drove up the wrong side of the street on the sidewalk (footpath) to get to the petrol station to fill up.

When we arrived at the apartment complex, the guard had us check in and indicate how long we are staying. Once the guard recognizes our car, he opens the gates and waves us through when we come and go.

The apartment had a big cleaning before we came which means, dusted, floors washed, sometimes the beds are made, windows are washed and lizard droppings and bugs are removed. It is so nice not to have to worry about cleaning the apartment when we arrive.

This time, we unpacked the food items we brought with us, primarily coffee, some pasta, cheese and Gammel Dansk. These items are difficult to find, or I should say, you can find these items, but the quality is not always what we are used to. We pretty much eat everything and do not need European food while in Thailand, but it is nice to have a treat with good coffee and a good cheese for our morning meals – breakfast European style.

We did not change our clothes or shower this time, as it was getting a bit late and the restaurants tend to close early. Since the car we had ordered was not here, or, as we learned later, the car was here, but no one had the keys. We decided to walk down the road towards the village to a restaurant called Buffalo Bill. What a pleasant surprise when we met up with our Finnish friends and neighbors on the seventh floor. They had already eaten, but they invited us to join them while they finished their beverages and we ordered our meals. Jørgen decided on a Swedish meal called “pytt i pande” and I had chicken in pepper and rice. Jørgen’s meal looked good and he said it tasted good. Mine was a small – and I mean small – portion of stir-fried chicken with absolutely nothing and a lump of rice.

However, the evening was a smashing success because we were with friends and a most hilarious, unconventional band! That’s what I love about these places overseas – especially Asia. At Buffalo Bill’s people just get up, pounded the piano, strummed the guitar, hit the drums and shared some blues on a harmonica. One of the residents then got up and sang an Elvis Presley song, which was fantastic. There was a whole table of these Swedes who just took turns on stage. It was a lot of fun and I was impressed with the talent. The pianist had crazy orange harem pants on, a funky shirt, black hair tied into a pony tail and hit the keyboard singing and playing Jerry Lee Lewis songs; I think it was “Great Balls of Fire.” The audience clapped, sang along and had a great time. Two young boys got up and performed some break dancing to cheers and standing ovations. Then the couples started swinging on the dance floor. Forgot about jet lag and we joined in. Walked home and are now thinking of getting a bit of shut eye. Our friends and neighbors are off to Hanoi for a week, but we hear some of our other friends are waiting to head for the golf course with us.

And that’s how life in Thailand started for us today.