My trip out of Thailand was a great mini adventure. I headed out of Bangkok from Don Meung, the old international airport. It was supposed to close, but the new airport, Suvarnabhumi couldn't cope so they reopened Don Meung for domestic flights.The airport is a great advert for globalisation, you arrive and there are several local vendors and a few Thai restaurants.No one really ever hangs around on this side; you pass through into departures thinking that there will be more of the same. The only thing awaiting you here is a Burger King, yeap that's it, talk about a captive audience.
I had planned to travel to Nong Khai on the border by train and then bus it over the border.But I learnt my lesson if you don't want to 3rd class (by all accounts you don't want to) you need to book your sleeper weeks in advance - not three days beforehand like me. So I increased my carbon footprint a bit and flew to Udon Thani.
Sitting in departures you look around and there's a few Thai businessmen, some families, the odd backpacker and an amazing amount of Farang men with their Thai wives/girlfriends and sometimes the Thai family in tow.That's a whole other topic for another day.Back to my trip, my ticket says seat 44K - great I think, a big plane, odd for a 55-minute internal flight.Board and discover I am on a plane version of a cut and shunt, either that or Harry Potter's Platform 11 ¾ (hope I remember that right), seat A-C and H, J, K exist just nothing in between.Where did they go or were the seat labels on offer?Flying over Thailand really could be England, green fields, pockets of trees and the odd industrial estate.
Touch down at Udon Thani International, good name for an airport that appeared to only have 2 buildings and 1 luggage carousel.Found the limousine service (battered people carrier) to take me to Friendship Bridge, the boarder crossing. You get dropped at the Thai immigration, they stamp you out and you catch a bus over the bridge to the Laos side.You hand over your passport, your money and the 3 forms you've been given.The forms all want the same information, including an address.Now I'm an experienced traveller and should have remembered that would be needed, no Lonely Planet guide, so couldn't steal an address from there (which is what I normally do) and I forgot to ask Lee, vaguely remember Lee mentioning a bar, so stick that down and hope for the best. Eventually a British passport is waved out of the hatch, three of us scramble to retrieve, I am the lucky winner on this occasion, the defeated grumble, sit back down and continue their wait in their sun baked plastic chairs.
At this point I should mention my second discovery of the day - the sun.I have been totally thrown by how hot and strong the sun is.The smog in Bangkok makes a huge difference; I was starting to consider the real possibility that I would return a berry.
Found a guy who appeared to have heard of the place I was heading and we made for his taxi, which turned out to be a tuk-tuk, avoided them in Bangkok, but here there appeared to be no cars, so off we pootle.
The guy did know where the Spirit House was and I found Lee in his office - yes folks he does work-, he also has dengue fever and looks like he has the hang over from hell.We head back to Lee's place he hits the sack and I had a very pleasant evening eating and drinking with his housemates Ging, Jules and a friend, Jethro.We the world to rights over a few beers on the balcony.Prefect end to a long day.