Thailand, Bangkok, Novotel Hotel

The Lobby of Novotel Hotel at Bangkok Hotel    ©  AN of ‘jtdytravels’

Leg one of our journey is complete and we’ve had a very restful day in our Bangkok airport hotel. Finally, after six months of learning how to use my new knee, I’m en route to Ireland – with my sister A.  We had a lovely sendoff by some family in CBR and met up with sister D in Melbourne before we had to book in for our flight to Bangkok. Then, while sitting there waiting – as you do at airports –  I had a phone call from D to say he’s safely back in Cairns after a really good day on his North Queensland train trip (sitting up with the driver – videoing out of the driver’s window etc etc etc) – all of which he will describe on his own web site:

It’s amazing how free I felt walking into Melbourne airport with my back pack once more on my back – camera prepared and shutter fingers primed and ready to share whatever we encounter along the way.

So what can I say about our flight? Things were a little chaotic before we began our flight with Thai Airways. To begin with, they did not have us sitting together – apparently you need to be Mr and Mrs ….. before someone at an airline twigs that you just might be travelling together. D and I often have the same trouble. We were diverted to a young man who explained – or at least tried to explain – how things were and promised to do what he could to seat us together. He would send someone to find us before the plane left, he said.
 With those encouraging words we began our sojourn through the airport – customs and security.  I might as well get used to it – shoes off, jacket off and a full pat down is the order of the day for those of us with ‘fake’ knees. It takes so much longer to get through the preliminaries before the real adventure begins. It’s just another one of those things one must grin and bear for the sake of travel!
Before boarding, a young man did find us and duly gave us new tickets – sitting together. Thank you Thai. Once on board we discovered that a young family with two little ones – a boy of about three and a baby – were to be our travelling companions. Now be honest – what is your first reaction to such a scenario? Oh dear!  But no. We were in for a treat. The parents and children ( who knew that a quiet ‘no’ meant no) were a delight and captured not only our hearts but also the hearts of our crew.
Once settled in we turned on the entertainment system and to our utter amazement discovered that a DVD by our very favourite singer, Beverley Sills, was on the play bill. Oh what a feeling!  To take to the skies with Beverley’s superb voice in our ears was a treat indeed. That is, of course, until the Captain interrupted her in mid phrase to make an announcement so loud that our eardrums nearly burst asunder. Then back to Beverley and bliss once more. As the plane bounced its way across the centre of Australia, Beverley’s voice bounced up and down in some most amazingly complicated passages of music.
Our Thai airways crew were, as usual, very attentive and thoughtful. And apart from a few very bumpy sections, we made it to Bangkok on time…. ready for the LONG, LONG walk to customs, to find a LONG, LONG, LONG queue at customs … and then the shock of the heat and humidity when we emerged into the real world.

Floral centrepiece in Reception at the Novotel © AN of ‘jtdytravels’

We’re staying for the day at the Novotel at the airport. It’s a great place to hole up for a rest day. A good sleep was in order as it had been a long first day. But after that we now feel as though we were ready to take on the world of adventure once more.

Our first foray out of the room was to discover if there was a way to get to the airport from the hotel – it is surrounded by a spaghetti of roads and when here before, I have been told there is no way to get to the airport that I can see only a feww hundred yards away except by car or hotel courtesy bus. BUT now there is a tunnel. And it will soon be full of ever more of the shops that Bangkok airport is famous for. The tunnel leads to the railway station and from there you can take an express train into the centre of the city in 17 minutes. And just beyond that is the airport. So like a mole you can go underground and emerge in the airport proper.

Restaurant at Novotel, Bankok Airport © AN of ‘jtdutravels’

We felt good for having had a walk – but to make that feeling even better, we ventured to the hotel restaurant. One thing we did not need was the vast array of food on display for the buffet. So A La Carte it was – and what a memorable meal of delicious Thai food we enjoyed. I had prawn Pad Thai ( my very first, ever) and A. had red curry with prawns – YUM!

A wander round the premises and a chat to few of the people working here left me with the impression that I have always had that the Thai are a friendly, gracious group of people by and large. We found the inviting looking pool and have promised ourselves a swim and relax there on our return journey.

By the Pool

We found the inviting looking pool and have promised ourselves a swim and relax there on our return journey.

Orchid growing on tree by the pool

As is usual in these Asian hotels, orchids are used to great effect to decorate areas of hotels and airports.

This time we just relaxed in the cool in the coffee lounge, where we immersed ourselves in the local English language paper – well written for the most part and full of interesting articles. Last time I was here, Bangkok was suffering from terrible floods. I was interested to read ( in a full page article) that they have been encouraging people to come up ideas that will improve things if – and when – another deluge happens to the city.  The winning entries are to be put into production. One of my favourite winners was a design for ‘floating furniture for schools’. These chairs and tables are so designed that they will be used as colourful furniture in classrooms. But, according to the article, they can also float, are mildew resistant, made of lightweight PE plastic, and are vvid in colour so that they can be spotted easily if someone happens to be floating on one. They can even be piled up to form a flood barrier should sandbags be unavailable. They looked a winner!

Other winners included an emergency ‘gardening kit’ in which to grow nutritious food such as bean shoots in quick time; a floating toilet system, a fold up emergency boat and a system of gps recording where you can mark your spot on e maps on social networks should you require help, food or fresh water in the event of a flood. I was very taken with this program of a community helping itself.

Another community helping itself is on a small island with 10,000 inhabitants but little in the way of medical help. A young doctor has set out, with the help of the community, to build a clinic that is partly based on computer technology so that he can provide advice to people via the web at offsite places where he has trained a local in basic health practices. If he deems it necessary, more serious cases will come to him – or he to them.  A real vision.

And now we must ready ourselves for the second leg of this journey. I’m sure there will be plenty to share. Our journey will take us now from Bangkok to Zurich and then on to Dublin. From there we’ll drive north first but we’ll visit both parts of the island – north and south – taking in a variety of gardens, the coastal scenery, wildflowers and birds, art and architecture, both modern and historical, and visit with people in their homes to get a feel for the Irish and their ways.  It should be fun.

We hope you enjoy the trip from a comfortable armchair

More anon J and A

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