We returned to Bangkok from Phnom Penh on a flight that arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport around 6p.m. on November 24. Little did we know that approximately 24 hours later, that airport would be overwhelmed by protesters and shut down entirely to inbound and outbound flights. (Read more here.) Had we returned one day later, we would have been caught in the craziness of the airport takeover. Two days later and we would have been stuck in Phnom Penh. So when we first heard the news, we were feeling pretty lucky about the timing of our travel arrangements. The only remaining problem: we had already purchased round-trip tickets to Krabi in and out of Bangkok that departed on the 26th.
We soon realized there was no way we would be flying to Krabi (which was to be our jumping-off point to the island of Ko Phi Phi), so we channeled Tim Gunn and set about making it work. After consulting our guidebooks and the recommendations of an old friend, we picked Koh Chang as our alternate beach destination. Koh Chang is a beautiful island on the Eastern Gulf Coast of Thailand, and most important, is accessible by ferry from a town that is accessible by bus from Bangkok. So, one five-hour bus ride, 45-minute ferry ride, and 30-minute songthiew ride later, we settled into our beach-front hotel and never looked back. (More on Koh Chang to follow in our next blog entry.)
When we first restructured our beach plans, we thought there was no way the protest would still be underway one week later when we were scheduled to fly to Hong Kong. How could Bangkok’s main transit hub possibly be out of commission for that long? Slowly but surely, however, we realized the protest showed no sign of ending and we needed to figure out a back-up plan for leaving Thailand. So that’s what we did yesterday. Luckily we were booked on Thai Airways and they have been doing everything they can to accommodate inconvenienced travelers. After a visit to the downtown Thai Airways office, we left with stand-by bookings on three different “evacuation” flights that were departing from a naval airport about 90 miles from Bangkok, as well as confirmed seats on a December 6 flight that was departing from BKK’s main airport. By the end of the day, a constitutional court had ruled that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat was banned from politics for five years, which appeased the protesting PAD party and led to their announcement that they would leave the airports by Wednesday, December 3.
So, long story short, we have confirmed seats on a December 6 flight to Hong Kong and it appears that we will be able to fly out of the main international airport. Our time in Hong Kong is thereby shortened from four days to one day, but we’re determined to make it dim-sum-packed! We feel quite lucky compared to all of the other travelers who have been struggling to return to jobs or families back home, as well as all of the Thai merchants and businesses that rely so heavily on the tourism industry. We will be sad to leave Bangkok and Thailand as a whole. We’ve had a wonderful time here and would recommend a visit to anyone.