There are better things to do at 2 AM.

One of which is not waiting in immigration.

CNY Holiday 2016, Part 1

The long evening began with trying to get a taxi to take me the Airport Express in Kowloon. I easily enough got a cab, but it was the wrong colour cab – a green one. Even though Kowloon is part of the New Territories, it is apparently not new enough for a New Territories cab. Thus, I had to putz around and wait for a red cab. However, all the drunk people coming out of bars near the town’s temple kept stealing the red cabs.

Finally, I marched over to the other side of the street, bag in tow, and claimed the next red cab. Two drunk guys were rather ticked, but the cab drive saw the suitcase and thought I was a better ticket than two drunk guys that probably don’t know where they’re going anyway.

This cab driver apparently worked for NASCAR before, as he took no prisoners in his attempt to get me to the Airport Express in record time. He had no patience in dealing with slower cars as he zipped along the roads. A few times, we actually squealed out of a stoplight and took corners so hard that my bag was flying around the seat.

I thought I might have whiplash by the time we got to the train, but at least that was a civilized ride to the airport!

I checked in and got settled at the gate, which was in the newest part of the HKIA terminal. It was practically empty but also freezing cold. The flight was freezing cold. My only saving grace was the thin blanket they gave us.

When I got off the plane in Bangkok, I booked it as fast as I could go past milling groups of Chinese tourists to get to immigration. We’d landed at about 2:00 AM, so I thought immigration couldn’t be that bad.

But, oh, I was so wrong.

Welcome to Thailand … all 10 million of you!

For two and a half hours, I wandered through the immigration queue. Only four stations were open to handle the multitude of planes coming in, replete with so many Chinese tour groups that the airport supplied a singing Chinese lady on a stage to entertain them. The rest of us put in ear buds and listened to Coldplay.

But the fun hardly stops there. Sometime around 5 AM, when I’m finally through immigration, I went to get my bag. However, my flight was no longer showing up on any screen or any baggage claim. There are tons of baggage claim carousels. Some passengers and I asked several workers about our flight, but we only got “check the screens” or “I don’t know.”

We split up to look for the bags, and finally, after about 20 minutes, we locate our luggage. In relief, I head out to the taxi stand.

Once there, the cab driver quotes me well and above the going rate to get to an airport hotel only 2 km away. Oh, Hello Kitty, no. I quoted back my price, stating the price from the airport to Thonglor/Sukhumvit 55 and from the airport to Siam Center, both of which I’ve taken cabs to before. Thus, his initial offer was ridiculous. After much smiling and whinging and threatening to let the other insane group of tourists have at him, he finally agrees on the meter. And would you look at that … the price I was willing to pay was about right. I know my cab prices!

I finally check-in after requesting a later check-out time, around 5:30 AM. I trip into bed, pull the covers over me, put on the sleeping mask, and I’m out like a light.

That was only the first 12 hours of a weeklong trip!

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