Date: 15 September to 16 September 2009
Where I’ve Been: England – Kent and Thailand – Bangkok
Where I’ve Stayed: The Rambuttri Village Inn, Bangkok
Funnily enough I didn’t sleep very well on Monday night, the day before I flew out. I awoke feeling very nervous and suddenly very aware of what was ahead of me. My flight left Heathrow at noon. My dad kindly chauffeured me to the airport and the journey there felt strange. Was I really doing this? Was I really giving up a good job and leaving my friends and family to head to the other side of the world? I was racked with self-doubt – what if I hated it? What if I didn’t meet anyone? What if I got homesick?
These questions were still rattling around my brain as we arrived at Heathrow. My dad, his partner Sanchia and myself popped into the Wetherspoons where I just about managed a sausage sandwich and then it was time to say goodbye.
Being an only child my dad and I are very close. Although we probably aren’t prone to showing it in an overly affectionate way we both realise what we mean to each other and how much we care about each other. Quite often a lot of it goes unsaid.
Leaving on a jet plane
My abiding memory of the moment that I said goodbye to my dad is that as I hugged him over his shoulder I saw a very attractive girl all dressed in white – a figure hugging white vest top, a pair of white socks pulled up to her knees and the shortest white shorts I have ever seen.
It kind of diluted the moment, as I went from feeling emotional, to slightly pre-occupied by this sight. I regained my focus though and embraced the hug and then watched as my dad slowly disappeared down the airport corridor – turning every few metres to wave me goodbye.
Finally he glanced back for one last time, waved and then turned the corner to walk back to his car and drive home, whereas I walked around the corner to start a much longer journey!
Waiting around to fly
I manage to make it through airport security without a hitch despite having never done it on my own before. Then I was left with about 90 minutes to wander around departures and soak in the happy atmosphere of people leaving for a holiday. I scanned the area keeping my eyes open for any signs of fellow travellers. But then I remembered I really would have no idea what they looked like, so I instead wandered around to see if could see the aforementioned ‘girl in white’, I did (she really was wearing the shortest white shorts I have ever seen).
Before I knew it it was time to board the plane (again something I’d never done on my own).
London to Singapore
My record flight length of four hours was well and truly smashed with it being a total of over 15 hours to Thailand! Again I hoped I’d be sat next to a fellow traveller on the flight, and we could buddy up and then spend a year traveling together and I’d not have to worry about traveling by myself but that wasn’t the case!
As it was my flight with Singapore Airlines was great. I had a huge selection of films to watch, so I settled down, plugged in my headphones and relaxed. I left Heathrow at midday and arrived in Changi International Airport in Singapore at 7.45am where I changed planes and have just under a three hour layover before flying to Bangkok.
Another first as I’ve never had a transit flight before, but thankfully there were some very helpful Singapore Airline people pointing me where to go, so I duly followed into a very nice airport lounge.
Now I am not purporting to be an airport expert (ask me again in 12 months) but my first impressions of Changi International were that it was incredibly clean, calm and serene! Put it this way there are worse places I could have been spending a couple of hours feeling slightly scared and nervous (Heathrow or Gatwick spring to mind).
Then it was onwards and upwards for my connecting flight and last part of the journey to Bangkok.
I am going to Bangkok!
Had a slight panic when Thai Immigration cards were distributed on the plane about 30 minutes before landing, I’d already got my Thai visa sorted and had no idea I had to fill in anything else but I entered my details as asked for and hoped it would all be ok.
Then the plane started to descend and I looked out the window and it all became real – my year of backpacking the world was about to start…
We all stood up and started to file off of the plane and the first thing that hit me as I stepped outside was the intense heat! It was the kind of heat I’d felt maybe once or twice in my 30 years in England – it was stifling.
I followed the crowds and signs towards passport control and stood in line with my passport and immigration card. When I got to the front of the queue I handed them over, smiled sweetly and my passport was stamped and I was free to collect my bag!
I headed towards the baggage carousel, my eyes fixed on it like a desperate roulette player watching as the ball spins around a roulette wheel. One thing I didn’t want was my bag to get lost on my flight out! Eventually I saw it emerge and heaved it back onto my shoulders – something I know I will have to get used to doing over the next 12 months – and headed towards the arrivals area to hopefully see Ben and Mary!