Thailand week 2.
The past week has not exactly run to plan. But the following things have officially rescued it for us!
1. Splashing out on a hotel transfer from Railay Bay to the airport.
Our exit from Railay Bay is usually a delightfully dignified affair, involving wading through the mangrove swamp with our suitcases held above our heads. If we are lucky, we manage to avoid slipping on the muddy stones underfoot, but we have yet to achieve the journey without at least one stubbed toe. We have always taken the budget option, in the spirit of adventure. It’s tradition.
This year, we decided that some traditions are overrated. Especially when you have spent the previous night slumped over the toilet bowl. We paid the extortionate hotel transfer rate, let a nice man carry our bags for us, bring the boat to us, and provide us with a wobbly ladder to get onto our boat. Because we have officially become soft travellers.
Anti nausea medication is also pretty high on our list of wonderful things for this particular period. Until they wear off at inconvenient times. I think that the low point of whole experience was when, having waited in the slowest check in queue in the world for what seemed like several years, mum turned a pale shade of green and gave me an “I’m going to hurl” look, just as we reached the front of the queue.
Luckily, my “NO YOU’RE BLOODY NOT!” Look seemed to do the trick and we made it through security vomit-free.
2. Bangkok Airways.
Officially the most awesome airline in the world. Ever.
We flew out of Bangkok the following day to Udon Thani, our next destination. Having set the alarm for 5am to be at the airport on time, we were informed by the sweet lady on the check in that they had brought our flight time forward by two hours. And forgotten to tell us.
At this point mum looked like she was about to sit down on the floor and cry. Still feeling sick, and on day 5 of a nasty cough that rapidly seemed to be turning into a chest infection, her reserves were already low, and the prospect of being stranded in Bangkok airport on New Years Eve was not really an attractive one, especially as I knew our chances of getting an alternative flight on such a busy day were slim!
The man on the standby flight counter saved the day though. He apologised profusely, gave us vouchers to go and buy breakfast and told us to come back in three hours, when he would try and get us on the next flight. I’ll be honest, I was not holding out much hope!
He only went and did it though! Amazingly, a couple of seats became available on the next flight, and we were rushed through check in. Having to run through the airport to get to our boarding gate on time was fun. My favourite part was when mum had a coughing fit and looked like she was about to pass out. But we made it. And Bangkok Airways gave us 2,400 baht compensation. In cash. Because they are amazing.
3. Thai Hospitals.
On New Years day, I decided that enough was enough and that we had to take mum to hospital. The thought of going to A and E on New years day in a foreign hospital filled me with dread. Not how I would choose to spend a holiday. Or any other day for that matter.
I needn’t have worried. After 2 hours in possibly the most peaceful, civilised A and E waiting room in the world, mum was seen by the doctor and sent off with a goody bag of funky drugs. Which cost 3 quid.
During the 2 hours we waited, we were treated to some wonderfully dramatic Thai soaps on the tv, and I nipped out to clear the local 7-Eleven out of Ferrero Rocher to share amongst the staff and patients. We decided we may as well put the airline compensation to good use and spread a bit of joy on New Years day! In the process I managed to adopt myself a Thai granny within 2 hours!
4. Beautiful places.
Mutt Mee guesthouse in Nong Khai. Our home for 5 days after new year. Mum was very poorly, so most of the week had to be spent resting. Which is not so bad when your sick bed is a hammock in a beautiful garden overlooking the Mekong. I still found it rather surreal that we could sit eating our breakfast in Thailand and look across the river to Laos. Somehow doing nothing for 5 days felt so right…
5. Our favourite game: Taking in the “Sights”
Of which there was no shortage in Nong Khai. When mum was well enough for a wee outing, we would wander along the river bank and back through the Indochina market. We have become masters of spotting priceless photo opportunities in the shape of bizarre items for sale in the market, local “characters” and dodgy Thai-English translations. I feel we really outdid ourselves on our visit to the Sunday Walking Street Market, with “Grandma Pork Sausage” and, our personal favourite: “Transparent crap”. Which we hope is meant to be “Crab”… The transparent bit, we are still debating…
The following day, we visited a market near the railway. In fact, it straddled the railway. We have a delightful photo of a wee group of children sitting on the tracks. Another wonderful example of the relaxed approach to health and safety here in Thailand.
I did also take a photo for which I am sure to go to Hell: A monk. At a market stall. Holding up a pair of enormous ladies knickers. As I said, I am going straight to Hell. It was worth it.
All in all, a week that, under different circumstances, in a difference setting, would have been a complete disaster: A sickness bug, a chest infection, a missed flight, a hospital visit, and a week of enforced convalescence… But everything for a reason, and you know what? We had fun. Thank goodness for the little things that saved the day!