This year, I took advantage of my winter vacation and decided Bangkok would be a great way to do so. Because the costs during winter and Christmas are always at a high, my girlfriend and I decided in order to cut costs a bit we should take an airline with the cheapest prices. It is not the worst idea we have ever had, but in the future I may be more willing to pay an extra hundred dollars or so to chop the travel time in half.
On our way to Bangkok we first took a connecting flight through China. I don’t know a lot about China or Chinese culture, but from the experience I had traveling through the airport I would say it didn’t peak my interests. The moment we got off the plane we had people shouting instructions to us in Chinese. We were led to a large bus without an seats inside. I was rather fond of the interpretations of common actions that were frowned upon.
Once we arrived at the main building we were prompted several times in Chinese. Once they realized I wasn’t Chinese…a woman tried speaking to us a few words in English. Since I have great experience dealing with people that attempt to speak English, but don’t have a grasp for the language one bit, I realized what she said and what she wanted to say were very different.
We waited for a few minutes while they gathered the rest of the foreign travelers and eventually we were herded through immigration and customs. It was a rather uncomfortable process because although my Asian girlfriend had no trouble as she passed through, I was stopped and questioned two or three times at gates and by random workers. Through our last gate we were led to a baggage check, aside from the rest of the public population. I couldn’t say if this was done intentionally or not, but it caused my nerves to become on edge.
Following this last gate we were left on our own to find where our next entrance gate was located. When we approached people for some information we were ‘informed’ in a condescending manner which didn’t lead to much progress. Finally we recognized someone from our own flight wandering about in the same area we seemed to want to be in, so it reassured us we were in the general correct area. Soon after, someone we spoke to earlier shouted to us and pointed us in the right direction.
After we made it through our gate we only had a few hours to kill. We sat at a cafe and enjoyed our overpriced soggy hamburgers. I found it interesting that the set meals contained a hamburger, chips, watermelon and chicken. Although the quality was what you would expect at an airport, it was the choice of foods that surprised me. I can’t imagine ordering a Big Mac with a banana.
Judging a country based on its airport can lead to some scary opinions. All I can say is, I won’t opt for a Chinese airline again. A combination of the time it took to actually get to Thailand and the way things were dealt with while passing through caused my impression to change.