BT in SE ASIA March 2005 travel blog

Print I purchased from Panya Vijinthanasarn, Famous Thai Artist. Now for Sale...

art hunting--write later

After my morning of art hunting, I took the taxi direct from Silapakorn University tot he airport. I wondered whether I would make it on time, the taxi driver got on and off the expressway since there was a ton of traffic. Could it be that these bargain airlines that I would be boarding have created even more airport traffic than before?

Of course I arrived on time and checked in to Thai Asia Air, the ticketless airline--hard to believe I was only paying $50 for a RT trip to Phuket. I found out later that the airline I was using was partly owned by the Prime Minister's company, Shin Corporation, but it was too late and $50 is damned chaep. I remember Hitoshi and I going more than 12 years ago for more than $150.

The waiting area was packed but soon we boarded an airport bus and were on the way to Thai Air Asia's plane all painted with palm treas and tropical fish. There must have been 300 seats-almost every one full. Thai people and tourists--yes, these low cost airlines do give a chance to a lot of people to fly. Arrived exhasuted--it was just an hour later, took my day pack out of the overhead bin and went outside to take a taxi. I couldn't find one and the signs gaive all the wrong clues--everytime I followed on, I could not find the taxis. A guy in a tropical aloha shirt came up to me and said., take the mini-van--it's cheaper. I paid 150 baht and he said. just wait and we'll take off soon. There were already 4 people waiting and I wondered why it didn't take off right away. I then began to realize that it wouldn't take off until it was full and when there were 1l people who had paid for their tickets, we were off. It would take 50 minutes to go to the Patong area where I had booked a guest house.

After thirty minutes, we made a stop. I figured it was for snacks or the toilet, but it was a travel agent and they said, please get off and presaent your tickets. I got off--I could not say no to the tall trasnvestite who asked so sweetly in a deep voice. I had a feeling something was up and each of us in turn presented our ticket to the people waiting inside who then asked where we were staying and then told us they could arrange for something cheaper or better. I had heard that there were these scams where drivers told you your place was no longer there--easy to do post tsunami-and then delivered you to a place where they could get a commission.

I said I didn't want to change and they didn't mess with me, but I would say that fifty per cent of the people did change. Either they were offered a hell of a deal or they were more eaily persuaded than me. I was in the middle of one of those bait and switch deals similar to when you go somewhere to hear a lecture or have a free dinner and then a swat team comes in and tries to sell you a condominium or a time share. I remember going to many of these in Florida years ago. This was the first time on the whole trip that I got pissed-didn't say anything, didn't want to be left there--thought about how slick they were stopping here in the middle of no where --funny place for a travel agent. Felt trapped, powerless, taken advantage of. Had not felt that the entire trip. After 45 minutes we were ready to leave and an hour later --this trip took longer than the flight-- I was taken to my guest house after a bunch of other stops. Once I saw my guest house and the room, I wished that I had changed my reservation at that travel agency. More about this place tomorrow.

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