So I found myself sitting in the departure lounge at London Heathrow, with a bottle of British water, a passport and a boarding pass, ready to take on the biggest adventure of my life. It was going to start in Bangkok. So what did I do? Take a picture, of course. Oh, I should explain. This is my little Minion. He is travelling the world with me, primarily so you don’t have to see my un-made-up face in a plethora of selfies…
Getting off the plane, at first, it’s not that hot. The airplane is obviously severely air-conditioned, the airport is air conditioned, the walk from the plane to immigration/border control and baggage collect is made up of those funky walk-way/escalator/travellator things, interspersed with the occasional stretch of actual walking. And of course, was air-conditioned. For the first time ever, I had air-travelled by myself. I could do everything at my own pace, which meant I didn’t have to wait for anyone, keep up with anyone. I got through in record time – it was awesome!
The next hurdle came when trying to locate the poor soul who would then have to sit through my excitable jibber-jabber in the form of an airport-transfer. I was not told where I would be able to find this person. I was just hoping that I’d get into the Arrivals bit, and there would be a person with my name on a bit of laminated card, ready to take me to the hotel. Turns out, I actually get into Arrivals at Gate 10. There were loads of people there. Loads of laminated cards with lots of different scribbled names, a few different scripts – Thai, Cambodian, probably a lot of Chinese (I flew on a Taiwanese airline). I spotted a tourist information point and asked them where I would be able to find a rep from G Adventures. Gate 3. It was at least a 15-minute walk, weaving through trolleys and kids running around, manoeuvring my very compact, but quite heavy, bag through the airport. Anyway, eventually found a lady with my name on her list. (She was standing at Gate 4, incidentally).
I met another girl who came off the same Heathrow flight. We talked about our plans and our reasons for travelling. And the tours we were planning to do. Having compared our university educations and travel histories, we came to the conclusion that we were actually doing different tours. I hope she lucked out like I did with my group.
Driving through Bangkok to the hotel, I noticed they drive on the same side of the road as us in the UK. Awesome, I wasn’t gonna get knocked over for looking the wrong way just yet.. Six pm came round sooner than I though. I was hoping for a quick shower before meeting the group, but I only arrived at the hotel at 5.30, so I decided I’d rather sit quietly for 10 minutes and be on time looking a little worse for wear, than be late. There were numerous G Adventures groups, and most people were looking around a little anxiously, wondering who we were going to be spending the next month with. There were 2 tour guides who rounded us all up and split us into 2 groups – Cambodia on a shoestring and Indochina Discovery (the best one!). Our CEO (Chief Experience Officer), made us introduce ourselves, and say something interesting. Our group was made up of a great mix – we had 3 Brits, 4 Canadians, 4 Germans, 3 Aussies, a Kiwi, a Polish girl and a guy from Ireland. Everyone seemed happy to chat, no one was immediately annoying or bitchy, which was saying something because out of the 17 of us, there were only 4 blokes! Our CEO gave us a summary of the first few days, a quick intro to the trip in general – currencies, trip expectations etc. Then we headed out for some dinner and drinks as it was NYE 2015.
First drink of the trip? Chang Beer. Well… when in Rome, right? After dinner, we went out along the main strip in Bangkok and stopped at some interesting looking street carts that we had seen on the way down. They were selling all sorts of bugs to eat. Scorpions, silk worms and other creepy crawlies. They were actually not that bad! They kind of taste just like whatever they were cooked in. Generally deep-fried in some kind of salted coating. Once you get the feeling of putting a bug with 6 legs into your mouth and embrace it, the world is a much better place! I draw a line at 6 legs though… I still have minor arachnophobia, and personally any creature that has 8 legs or more simply has no reason to exist.
So it felt like an exceptionally long day for me. Since the flight was boarding at 21.20 UK time on December 30th and arriving at ~16.00 BNK time on NYE, I felt like I’d been up and functioning for way longer than I was, and the jet lag was starting to hit. I decided to head back to the hotel with a few of the other girls and I did manage to stay up to see the new year in on Bangkok time. Posted a Facebook status, sent a few messages, and then hit the hay. The border crossing into Cambodia was going to be an early start, so I wanted to catch some Zzzz’s.