Sunday 28 June 2015 – Chiang Mai to Singapore
After four weeks of working my way gradually north (mostly) overland, Chiang Mai is over 2,500km from Singapore – further than Melbourne to Brisbane. It’s time to turn around and head south towards home.
For some reason I had in my mind that my flight left at 8.30am, so I was up at 6.30 and had checked out and was sitting at breakfast before I double-checked my Air Asia booking and realised it wasn’t until 10.15am! Not to worry – it was a good chance to catch up on writing this journal.
Early on, the dining room was full of middle-aged, bordering on elderly, Chinese who did not appear to be experienced travellers. There seemed to be some issue with coffee, which for some reason all the Chinese had chosen rather than their more customary tea or hot water. They seemed to have drunk the coffee urn dry and were causing the restaurant manager some difficulty, not least since their common language was English and few of the Chinese seemed to have any grasp of it.
Getting a songthaew to the airport was among the simplest transfers I’ve done on this trip. I just wandered up to the main road at the end of the Hotel’s soi and waved down a red songthaew within about 10 seconds. I waved a 100 baht note at the driver and said ‘airport’ (after the requisite ‘Sawasdee-krup’) and off we went. We were there in about 10 minutes.
Air Asia (at least the Thai operation) seems a model of order and efficiency, as budget airlines go. The aircraft left the gate about 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time; by then we were on the runway, engines revving, so it was really ‘wheels up’ time. At Bangkok an airline representative met all with connecting flights and led us to the next terminal. My bag as checked through to Changi so I didn’t have to collect and re-check it.
From Changi I caught the MRT to Bugis and walked the couple of blocks to the Grand Pacific Hotel, which was the old Allson Hotel where I had stayed for the first week of my Asialink secondment in 2001. Fortunately, it has had a makeover since then and is quite comfortable. Thailand on a budget is fine, but its nice to be back in the land of professional plumbing and wiring. It’s also a bit weird seeing people actually waiting at traffic lights – even pedestrians when there is not traffic for miles!
For dinner I walked around to Marina Square and had some noodles overlooking Marina Bay.