(Ed. note: No photos but wait until the next post!)
What a long time it took for us to get here! Our usual trip to Shanghai requires a 40 minute bus ride to the fast train, a 30 min train ride, then the subway for another 30-40 minutes. Yesterday, we followed the same route but elected to stay on the subway all the way to Pudong Airport–heavy emphasis on all the way. We didn’t realize how long it would take. 5 stations short of the airport, you have to disembark and move to another train. For the first time every we were brutally pushed and crushed trying to get out of the car as the crowd waiting pushed their way in. Not fun! Not necessary either as both trains waited in the station for at least 2 minutes after we were on. It was a little ugly as the pushing group was made up of a large group of young men but also elders with grandchildren and others heading to work. Not a very nice scene. (Ed. note: I must say that I kind of enjoyed bulling my way through and getting dirty looks. :-))
When we finally arrived in the airport 4 hours from the time we left our apartment at 7:00am, things moved quite smoothly. We found the right terminal, went through immigration, found the gate…and then waited: our plane was delayed an hour and a half. No information posted or announced so one was forced to make inquiries every so often to figure out what was going on. Eventually we got on and flew out around 2:00pm.
A word on an Asian habit: hawking. You all know what this is, the rather nasty business of bringing up phlegm followed by spitting. I developed a name for what the Asian woman beside me did through the entire 4.5 hour flight: snorking. This is when one snorts backwards, swallows and coughs. Enough said? The whole way. Other than that and the crying baby, it was a very smooth, uneventful flight. We landed around 5:30, gathered our things, found our waiting ride and headed off to Bangkok, 14km away, at rush hour.
For anyone coming in to Bangkok at this time, without an arranged ride, I recommend taking the Skytrain. It looks remarkably like ours in Vancouver and runs from the airport through to the downtown core. It even has a stop on the third floor of our hotel. Much faster than a limo or cab.
First impressions: gloriously tropically warm, a big city–10,000,000 people in a small area. MUCH better drivers on the road and NO honking! People drove in lanes for the most part, although extensive use is made of shoulders. Many elevated highways like those in Shanghai and once down to street level, there it was, much as you might imagine. Vendors selling food, T-shirts, summer dresses, trinkets. Small shops of every description, including the 24 hour tailors and pearl merchants. Tourists walking in sensible sandals – not a pair of stilettos in sight (Ed. note: 🙁 ). A few minutes later we drove up the lush pathway to the Shangri-La Hotel, our home for a week. By the time we got settled, it was 8:00pm and we had been on the move for 14 hours. We headed to the patio on the river for a meal of Pad Thigh, spicy beef and cold beers.
We don’t golf until Monday so we are off to explore for the weekend. Hope we don’t get lost on South Mahesek 1, Mahesek 2 or Mahesek 3–gawd help the mail service and tourists in Bangkok!