My Pride, My Thai part 22: The homecoming

One of the absolutely best feelings that I know about, is that very moment when the wheels of an aircraft that I'm on touches any runway in Thailand. It's the exact start of something very new, different and exciting. Those times that I made my way from somewhere in Europe, within less than a half day, I have moved myself to the other side of our earth. Not only that, when you land in Bangkok, you almost feel you are no longer on the same planet anymore. Thailand is different, so very different. I know some of you might agree with me. Whether it is for the better or for the worse, is up to you to make your own thoughts about. 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 1: The Preparation (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 2: The flight (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 3: The arrival (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 4: The first morning (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 5: Big C (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 6: Bangkok (opens in a new tab).  

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 7: 200 THB to heaven (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 8: Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 9: Being a celebrity in Thailand (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 10: From Sisakhet to Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11: Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new  tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11-B: Coffee Love at Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 12: The long drive to see the King (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 13: Hua Hin Inbox (opens in a new window).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 14: Returning to Kanchanaburi (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 15: The luxurious resort (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 16: LiT Bangkok Hotel (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 17: Nearing the end (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 18: Departure for Norway (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 19: The two forgotten hotels (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 20: Back to work again… (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 21: The new dawn starts right here (opens in a new tab).

Another thing great about arriving in Bangkok is the efficiency of the arrival immigration and customs. With seperate lines and counters for Thai nationals, the immigration process is fast and efficient. I don’t think I have experienced any problems or long delays in all my countless arrivals to Thailand. I have only good things to say about the arrival immigration and customs process here. 

Unlike my arrivals at Oslo, where I have to wait for up towards an hour for my luggage, Bangkok manages to have it on the conveyor belt by the time the quick immirgation procedures are done. Unless, my suitacse is always placed last on the converyor by intent (it does feel like that sometimes), the management at Oslo have a few things to learn here. 

This time, my arrival was no different from before. From the time I stepped off the aircraft, till I was in the arrivals area of the airport, it took me no more than 30 minutes.... and that I think, is very efficient. I had really expected it to be a whole lot more this time, because landing just minutes ahead of us, was an Airbus A380 probably loaded to the brim with other arrivals.... Perhaps they were given a gate far away and arrived at different counters, but I never saw anyone from that big plane. 

Despite the efficient arrivals procedures, the car-pick up was not so. A car had been requested for my arrival at 6 o'clock in the morning, but as my flight arrived nearly 50 minutes ahead of schedule I knew I would probably have to wait a little bit. Waiting for the counter to open, so that I could get the keys took nearly forever. In order to ensure great service, the car had been arranged through an International car-rental agency by the name of AVIS. I turned out, that is no guarantee for decent, acceptable service. Despite explicit communication in advance, that my car had to be ready at absolutely NO LATER than 6 AM, there was nothing happening. A lady eventually arrived to the counter at few minutes after 7, she apperantly worked there as she was wearing her uniform. With a brought-along breakfast in front of her, she had no intentions to make any communication with customers before 8 o'clock. Attempts at getting her attention never got more reaction than a finger pointing to a sign stating that the counter opens at 8 AM. At this point, I was actually in a hurry, because I had an appointment in Hua Hin at 10 AM.... by this time, I already knew I had no chance in the world making that appointment. 

When the clock eventually touched 8, I once again returned to the counter to see if there was any update on that key. She looked at me, gave me a small smile and apologised by saying she was not in charge of keys. That message being conveyed, she returned to checking and applying her make up again. 

If i checked deep inside, I knew I started feeling more than a little agitated, because I would most definately miss my Hua Hin appointment, and that they most likely would not honor me with a new meeting later in the day. One thing that I have learned from many years in Thailand, is that showing any kind of anger, does not lead to anything better. The concept of time and urgency is …. well, different, very different from Norway. I really had to work hard at keeping my cool.... and just stood by the counter waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting. If this had happened in Norway, the customer would be long gone to a competitor, but sadly, I didn’t have that choice this time.

Eventually, closer to 8:30, a guy came and told me that the car was ready... But that I had to be driven to the place where they kept their cars. Naturally, that wasn't easy as it sounds as well... because also he had to eat something first, and by 8:45 we eventually got into his car, and drove to the car pick up center. The company paying for my rental, had ordered me a Honda Accord with a 2.4 litre engine, but all they had available was not according to the reservation.... just a an older, not yet cleaned Honda Civic with an engine about the same size as a sewing maching: a very small sewing machine. I called the office of my company, and they were not happy to hear about AVIS messing up, asking me to hand the phone to the AVIS-representative. Communication followed between AVIS and my office, and much later, with no solution in sight, they literally had no other choice than sending me off with the Civic.... I could by now not care less, as I was not paying for this at all. 

The moral of the story is that even though you are using what should be a reputable company like AVIS, you are not guaranteed any better service, but, that being said, before I completely make AVIS look bad, I have to admit that the problems I encountered at the airport is in no way like the friendly and courteous service of the downtown office in North Sathorn Road. They are a different breed I guess. 

By 9:50, I was eventually ready to be on my way..... nearly 4 hours after touching down. My take is, that if you think you should get things done fast in Thailand, you may be in for a surprise. Even the simplest things take time, and you may need to consider that when making plans. Don’t loose your cool-head though, that will almost never help your situation.  

The 10 o'clock appointment in Hua Hin had to be abandoned, and a new appointment could clearly not be made that day. I asked my company whether I could go to a Bangkok hotel and wait for further instructions there, but they insisted that I still made my way to Hua Hin as fast as I possibly could. 

No matter how embarrassing it sounds, but getting out of the massive airport area, I got lost a couple of times and ended up at the very same spot twice.... no idea how in the world I managed to do that, but I did. To get going the right way, I had to readjust and recalibrate my compasses.... I looked out at the sun and the shadows, and off I was again.... this time, with my gyros stabilized, the road to Hua HIn was no longer an obstacle. 

As the kilometers rolled under the car, I really felt tired, but great. The freedom of driving in Thailand is a great feeling. The first stop this day was a relatively famous building which I believe also have won some local design prices.... Thankfully, this was also an outlet for coffee: Starbucks. But before I tanked up my now empty stomach with strong coffee, I had to go into the building behind to find myself a hot noodles brekafast. 

I reached Hua Hin by 1:30 in the afternoon, and headed straight to the hotel.... a place I had been staying before and which I was more than happy to return to: Hua Hin Inbox. 

So how did it go with the appointment which had to be cancelled and which my company did not know if they could reschedule? I made an initiative at my own dealing directly with the company, and sorted out the meeting myself. I felt so thrilled when I got a phone call from Bangkok at 5 in the afternoon, where they apologised and said sorry, they are not able to get any new appointment for me. Barely able to contain my enthusiasm, I told them to not worry any more about it, because I had myself contacted the company directly, and made an appointment for later in that evening.... They were completely flabbergasted and I could literally hear they were gasping for air in Bangkok. 

I won this battle I guess, and I never lost my cool. 

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