Thursday, August 20, 2009

Air Asia & Beyond

We are now in Bangkok, or BKK, and working very hard. So this is to report the arrival as there could be useful info for other travelers who want to test what locals call the Southwest Airlines of Asia, Air Asia.(

Sarah has made this flight before, so she knew all the tricks-- this is important to note. First off, the tickets were bought online in the USA several months before our travel-- with this airline, as with others, the more lead time, the lower the price. We paid extra for reserved seats and yet another extra fee for the maximum luggage allowance, 25kilo per person.

We organized our trip as if we were really smart, buying roundtrip tix in and out of HKG so we could stash most of our luggage in Honkers and thus make the weight allowance. Sarah's bag weighed in at 17k and mine, an amazing 14! Since this is a working trip, we need to leave space and weight allowance for papers and press kits...and purchases.

Instead of booking the InterContinental's fancy car service, which we usually do (slightly over $100 per transfer) we took a plain old taxi for $30. The most difficult part of this was the discovery that Air Asia is not listed on any of the pre-arrival airline charts, so the driver did not know which terminal we required. This surely was not his fault; we bounded out at Terminal One, praised Sir Norman Foster one more time for giving us such a wonderful airport and never once complained about the trek over to Terminal Two where Air Asia is at the P and Q stations, hidden off to one side.

Since our roundtrip tix for two people totalled just under $250 we couldn't complain about anything and tried to stop grinning with delight. We are always sad to leave Hong Kong, but knew e'd be back soon and a trip to Bangkok is always worth doing, especially at these prices. Air Asia does not have a wide network from HKG but they do serve a lot of cities and even go to Austraila and London from other destinations.

The shopping in the HKG airport is heaven, as you probably already know. A brand new Muji To Go store opened across from our gate; we went to the Taiwan Noodle Shop for dinner and bubble tea. I had to browse at Muji without my handbag as I wanted to buy everything...except maybe the freeze dried pickle soup.

Then we boarded and sat knees to chin as every seat was filled for the almost three hours flight. We thought the flight was two hours, but alas, we had to spring ahead with a time change. Or did we fall back?

Once airborne, pax are invited to pay for drinks or snacks; no peanuts are given out as on Southwest Airlines because they save them for the elephants of Thailand. We shared a Snickers for dessert and I ate a bag of gummy worms. Here's to you, Dumbo.

Naturally, the plane landed in New Jersey as landing rights there must be less expensive than gates in BKK. We were bussed into the terminal and suffered enormous high steep steps on and again off (duh) the bus-- I have no idea how they help the handicapped. Finally we arrived at immigration and entered the country, retrieved luggage, hit the ATM and found our driver. Since it was past midnight local time (and later on our body time) we splurged for a hotel transfer from the Sofitel Silom, $70 USD. Also, truth be told, we didn't have a taxi card and had not downloaded a print out of the hotel address in Thai.

We adore this hotel-- incredibly chic and much fun to say Namaste Bonjour each day. We are so delighted to be here that we paid 200 baht for a tuk-tuk ride that should have cost 50. Since 200 baht is $6 and the driver couldn't stop chatting with his delight over his coup for the day, we decided to sit back and enjoy the carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tonight we're off to dinner with Marion from Anantara Hotels & Resorts-- we'll take a taxi for that one.

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