Weekend Trips From Bangkok Made Easy….

Want to get Away from the City for the Weekend?

Hi Guys!!

Firstly, I wanted to sit down this Saturday morning and wish everyone out a very happy weekend where ever you are and however you choose to spend it.  Sooooo, as you’ve noticed already, I’ve decided to start sitting down more often and start blogging again.  It’s something I’ve been kicking around in the back of my head for a little while now, and it would allow me to interact with you guys on a more frequent basis…So, I know (hoping with my fingers crossed) that you’ll just love! 🙂

The fact is, after a few years now of podcasting and blogging, the blog posts I wrote ages ago still receive more than twice as many hits daily than any of the podcasts I have produced.  I’ve also found that writing is much easier for me and less time consuming than podcasting, so it is really just an easier form of expression to interact with you guys that visit the site.  Therefore, and hopefully if I start writing, I’m going to be able to get on here more often to quickly jot down the random thoughts I might have on any given day. However, don’t fear as I will also continue to podcast as well of course.  So if my little idea works out, then anything I get out is basically a bonus if you are one of the few that enjoy the TIT on a regular basis.

So, what’s TIT up to this week, you may be asking yourself?  Well, It’s the first weekend in October and I’m up in Issan (Northeastern area of Thailand) spending a couple of days with my partner.  One of the best things about being back in Bangkok is the easy access one has to potential weekends away within the country.  Bangkok is the hub of all land and air travel within Thailand, so a minimum amount of planning is necessary to reach most destinations.  The proximity to bus stations, trains and the airport make getting away for a couple of days easily accessible for a weekend after work on a Friday afternoon.

Not the cheapest, but definitely reliable...

Thailand’s has several low cost airlines to choose from, so it is only a matter of doing a little research a week in advance to secure a reasonable flight to just about anywhere in Thailand.   However, this week I opted for Thai Airways to make the journey here on Friday evening, as the last flight for the other carrier I generally use was at 4PM in the afternoon.  Silly right?  Who has time to get to the airport after work on a Friday by 3 o’clock?  You’d think they would offer a later flight to attract more weekend customers, but common sense in marketing doesn’t seem to be a strong point for this particular carrier.

Anyway, so I left work on Friday to make my 6PM flight, and took a short motorbike taxi ride to the Lumphini Station of the Bangkok MRT (subway), which is the nearest station to my work.  I use the MRT daily anyway, so it was a small matter of obtaining my little red token to take a quick ride up to the Petchaburi station.  The MRT Petchaburi station is the connection station you will use if you want to transfer over to the BAT (Bangkok Airport Train) using the subway system in Bangkok.  When you reach Petchaburi station you are going to want to use the exit 3, but be prepared for quite a walk once you reach the surface.  Use the exit, take a hard left and then start walking towards the elevated train tracks in the distance on your left.  The Airport train station is NOT near the subway station, so be prepared to do a bit of walking and sweating to reach the trains.  Also, there is no cover once you exit the station so if in doubt, make sure you bring along your umbrella.  Your going to have to walk down the street, across the intersection AND train tracks, then take another left to walk down the road to the entrance to the station.

Take the Subway to Petchaburi station to link to the Airport Link Train...

Once across the train tracks, you can’t miss the station (Makkasan City Air Terminal).  It is a huge 4-story structure, accessible on the street by elevators located underneath.  You will enter the station and be greeted by a much welcome blast of cold air, as the bulky unused part of the station is air-conditioned.  It is impossible not to gawk and wonder at the vast expanse of cold empty space that exists here at this station.  It strikes me as a colossal waste of money as a result of poor planning, but that’s a whole other story completely for another post perhaps.

The next step to reaching the airport train is that you’ll need to go up to the 3rd floor via the elevator and buy another token to take you to the airport.  It is at this point you will most likely notice that the air-conditioned space abruptly ends when you approach the ticketing booth, and you are again thrust back into the sauna/steam room like environment “cleverly” created at the station. After purchasing your new token, go around the corner through the gate and take the Suvarnabhumi escalator up to the platform above.  Hopefully, you will not have to wait long for a train to come along.  Be aware that the trains currently DO NOT run frequently enough to keep patrons from melting in the heat, but the governing authority has assured the public new trains will be coming along in the near future (near meaning a few years in Thai government language) to make the wait time less painful and inconvenient for travelers.

Getting to the mostly unused Makkasan station will be a bit of a walk from the Subway...

Now you might think, as transportation options currently stand, the airport link really isn’t the most convenient means of reaching the airport given the abundance of cheap taxis available in Thailand.  However, rest assured that it certainly beats getting caught up in the legendary Bangkok traffic jams dependent on the time of the day your flight arrives or departs.  Use your best judgement given the time of day your need to make the journey out to the airport.  I left work at 4PM and the whole trip took me about 45 minutes from start to finish, which would have been impossible in a taxi at that time of the day otherwise.  So, I reached the airport with plenty of time to spare before my flight.

Then, once you arrive keep in mind that upon reaching the airport you must go up to the 4th floor for check-in, made little easier now by the escalators near the glass lift/elevator.  Please DON’T stand there and wait for the elevator/lift as it takes FOREVER to make the journey from top to bottom of the airport.  It was worth the wait previously because getting up and down on the escalators used to be like traversing a maze at Suvarnabhumi, but it seems common sense has prevailed for the time being with up and down escalators located next to each other finally.

Exit the Airport Link and make your way up to the 4th floor for check-in...

I went directly to Thai airways domestic counters to get my boarding pass printed as I’d already checked in online but you can’t print it yourself online for some reason which seems to defeat the purpose to me.  However, there were no long lines so I was quickly on my way to have a quick snack before my flight.   So here I sit enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning up in the Northeastern city of Udon Thani at the regional hospital where my partner works.  He lives at a condo block located on site at the hospital, so this usually where I spend my time with him here visiting Udon Thani.  Today we’re thinking about visiting a local dinosaur bones national park, but time will tell as the day progresses.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my little delve back into the written word, and if so please feel free to leave comments.  I do enjoy writing so hopefully (fingers crossed), I can get back into the habit.  I hope everyone is having a great weekend and fear not as I will talk to you soon!

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T.I.T. Podcast Episode 30: Only in Thailand

podart30

•    Welcome to episode 30
•    Thailand in the News
•    “Siam Sunrays” will lure tourists back?
•    Thailand in a Glass
•    Thais think all foreigners are sex crazed alcoholics
•    One Angry Australian against 6 Bangkok police
•    He really, really needed a beer
•    Always wear clean underwear when going out
•    Thailand’s silly law about buying alcohol
•    Elections and many holidays are dry days for the country
•    What else does T.I.T. stand for?
•    Comments and Emails
•    Listeners through the Myspace
•    Tom on Facebook vs. Myspace
•    Never realized I’d have so many straight listeners
•    Tom is a tiny bit of a heterophobe
•    More foreigner/Thailand News
•    Jailed Australian author pardoned
•    Going home after 5 months in prison
•    Italian man commits suicide and ends up beheaded
•    Closing remarks and love to my listeners!

Email me at tomnthai@gmail.com, please go Comment on my page or call my voice line and leave me a voice comment for the show!

Download Tom in Thailand: Right Click Here | The Freak Network | The RainbowPodSquad

Subscribe to Tom in Thailand in Itunes: Click here

The Concept of Love…

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Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all out there!  I’ve just gotten home and thought I’d reflect on this syrupy sweet day in which we celebrate our concept of love once openly once a year.  Growing up in the US, I can remember as a child in elementary school how much I enjoyed Valentine’s Day as we would make those little Valentine boxes or pouches to hang in the front of the classroom.   Then of course you’d go with Mom to the grocery store, K-mart,  Wal-mart…whatever….to chose the little pack of cards  you wanted to give your classmates.  Then you’d go home and write to Jason, Chris, Mark, or Debbie on the front of the little white envelopes and write your name on the card inside 20 or 30 times.  Then the big V-day arrived and we’d go up one by one to put everyone’s card into their pouch.  I remember how much I enjoyed tearing into each little card and there were always a couple of candy/cards thrown in for good measure, right?  I just loved the whole tradition as a child, so I made the best of the day with my students here as well.  We made cards for them to take home to whoever, and then we made some cute little heart shaped necklaces from pipe cleaners and beads to take home as well.  It was a cute and relaxing day, and i think the little ones enjoyed it.

Then it was off to Siam Paragon to buy  my Valentine his present and you’d have thought it was the mad day before Christmas rush again.  There were sooooo many people there carrying over sized stuffed animals, bouquets of flowers, chocolates, and all the other cutesy stuff that you wouldn’t want were it not Valentine’s Day.  The Thais really, really, really get into the whole spirit of Valentine’s Day and why not i guess, right?  I was thinking I was going to write about my concept of love for today, so bear with me as I explore this train of thought here for you.  I honestly think I learned to love from my family.  I have the good fortune of coming from a very caring and loving family, where warm hugs and kisses where never in short supply when we were growing up.  Sure we had arguments, and there were certainly rough patches through the years as i grew to be a man, but their love was always unconditional.  My Mom and Dad still flirt with each other to this day after all their many years together, and I see their love as an example of what I always assumed I’d find myself.  It is like that with all my family members and I have learned to appreciate this fact as I get older.  Then of course there were the endless stream of Disney movies i watched, and no matter the trouble or fabulous villan, there was always a happy ending because Prince Charming was always there in the end to save the day.

However, I learned as I grew up that not everyone has the same concept of love as I do.  Sometimes people don’t grow up in loving homes, and sometimes there can be enough heart break to make a person lose faith in the capacity of others to love or love them.  Also, I think love can be very culturally based because I have learned the word “love” can be used quite easily here in Thailand.  Is love simple?  Is love only as complicated as we make?  I’ve had boyfriends here over the years, and there have been some similarities in the way they professed their love for me.  In the west, or in at least where I’m from, your lover/partner/husband/wife…whatever….was number one in your life when you made a commitment to each other.  Partner, family, work, friends….or something along those lines are how I approach love and priorities in my life.  However, It is not so here.  I have noticed that the priorities seem to line up with family first, work second, friends, and then partner last or partner on equal grounds with friends.  It has been that way with each love interest i’ve had here over the years and I have had to learn to adapt my concept of love and personal priorities as time has gone by.  I hope that made some kind of sense, and you didn’t pause to scratch your head when you read through it.

So, I’ll close here and wish everyone lots of love out there, whether you want it or not!  I have the privilege of loving so many of you out there in so many ways, and I’m happy to get the chance today to say so.  Give yourself a hug from me, and now I must finish writing out this card I bought earlier and go get ready to have my own little Valentine dinner with my guy tonight.  Love and hugs to you and of course…talk to you again soon!