Friday, November 28, 2014

Carpe Crapum - Bangkok November 28 2014

Well that didn't work out so well. What didn't work out so well you ask ? I had planned on returning to Myanmar and visiting an area that I missed last visit. Mrauk U is a smaller version of the same style of temples that are located at Bagan. It is on the eastern edge of the country near Bangladesh. It is kind of out of the way as far as the regular tourist track, but not an area that other Trip Advisor users have not experienced. For some reason the witch at the embassy says it is unsafe because of political unrest in the area. I am aware of the unrest in the general area, but not Mrauk U itself. So I am now begging AirAsia for a refund on the flight and at a bit of a loose end as how/where to proceed from here. For right now I'm going to hunker down in Bangkok for an extra day and see if there is anything to see that I haven't already seen.

The flights from Sea to Tokyo and then Bangkok were as expected long and uncomfortable. No particular reason other than a total of 17 hours in an area smaller than my bird's cage is too much for any sane normal sized human being.

Before departing I ran a Google search on “How to make your flight attendant like you”. Besides the normal, smile, pay attention to the safety briefing and put you luggage's wheels in first. They said that flight attendants always need extra pens to pass out to the passengers for Customs declarations and such. Also they LOVE Starbucks cards.

I picked up a $25 Starbucks card and $2 worth of cheap pens and put them in an envelope with a note that read something like “I assume you will be spending Thanksgiving in Tokyo away from friends and family. Thank you. The enclose Starbucks card should be able to buy 5 Pumpkin Spice Latte' for the cabin crew once you are back in the USA.”

Wow ! That paid off well for me. Not quite an upgrade to First Class but a thank you from each member of the cabin crew as they passed. A few hours into the trip one of them brought my a bag with Delta slippers in it, a small kit that held enough bathroom supplies for a couple days, big bags of almonds, some popcorn and chocolate. Later another dropped off a second RON (Remain overnight) kit that mt seat mate inherited along with a bag or two of the almonds and popcorn.

The chocolate bar at check in, did absolutely nothing in case you were wondering.

Airport to hotel via taxi and check in at the hotel was smooth sailing. The plane landed around 11 pm and an hour and a half later I was turning down my covers on the bed. At five am it was time to get up, at least my internal clock thought so. I fought with it for about an hour before surrendering.

Dis all those bathroom things like shower and was down for breakfast and out the door to catch the skytrain to the Myanmar embassy by eight thirty. As I was leaving the hotel one of the staff members said “You are police, aren't you?” I asked him why and he said “You have that confidence in your walk.” Interesting observation.

I was moping outside the hotel when I got back from my wasted morning and started talking to a taxi driver. As things go, he seduced me as many a local transit privateer has in the past. Small talk about weather and travel plans. A touch of politics and a healthy dose of who and what to avoid to not be taken advantage of. All the while feeling me out for “The pitch”. This one was not one I was expecting. “I'll take you to a local travel agent and see about getting you a good price on a plane ticket to Bangladesh for $3 round trip”. The travel agent was a bust. He wanted travel agent prices and I wanted internet prices, but no hard feelings on either side of that non transaction.

Then on the ride back to the hotel came the real pitch. 9 am tomorrow, $25 half day to the floating market. I took him up on it, it certainly sounds better than sitting around the hotel or riding the Sky Train down to see the couch potato Buddha that I saw last time.

It is now mid afternoon and the lag of the jet is starting to show it's teeth so now is a good time to stop.


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  2. Check out recent Tripadvisor Forum and Thorntree posts. Seems like Mrauk U is doable, but only after you've arrived in Myanmar and handled it locally. A bit risky, but getting a refund from AirAsia would probably be more difficult!