There is a sense of relief, excitement and possibly the need to rush to the loo when the flight attendant announces that the flight is on its final approach to the airport. The long haul flight has taken its toll on the senses. Passing through the unseen time zones slowly take their toll on the body and the mind. Over 12 hours has passed by. That is 12 hours of being sat down, eating, watching movies and sleeping. Well, for some, the gentle undulation of the craft and the low drone of the engines and cold air rushing by tries to act against the sleep state. Slowly but surely with each passing time zone there is a loss of awareness. In part the body wants to shut down but seems to of forgotten how.
The words of the flight attendant together with the nice hot face towels sparks just enough life back into the mind and body to regain some self awareness. Certainly enough awareness to realise that the feet that came out of the comfy shoes are now struggling to fit back in.
Gone are the days when passengers where relaxed about the end of a flight. With the ping of the sound heralding that seatbelts can be unlock there is the mad rush to grab belongings and to activate mobile phones ahead of time. In comparison, disembarking the craft is more like a slow procession as the last of everyone's energy was consumed re-acquiring their hand luggage be it above their heads or fighting through the aisles to reach it else where in the craft. Now the main concern is to get through immigration as quickly as possible and play the carousel game of spotting the correct luggage.
It is an interesting experience taking a taxi in the capital of the land of smiles. After a long international flight and the growing effects of jet lag there is the urge just to want to drop the bags and luggage and just relax in a hotel room in front of the TV and plan the first place of interest to visit.
Travelling outside of an organised tour group you are left to your own devises. Sometimes the hotel booked may of laid on its own transport to collect its guests or prior arrangements have been made but otherwise its time to workout how to get to the hotel.
There is only one thought that enters the mind once beyond immigration and luggage collection, 'where is the taxi stand?'. 'Taxi stand, taxi stand, where is the taxi stand?' By this time the eyes will be scanning back and forth looking hard into the distance. Looking beyond the many faces waiting to greet family and friends. Looking beyond the handheld banners to attract business associates that may have never been met before. Some how the signs directing to the taxi stand seem to be missing. Hmmm... maybe the old eyeballs are tired from watching four in-flight movies in a row?! It's at this point the brain applies the brakes. Bipedal motions comes to a stop, as does the luggage in front of some unfortunate passerby. The face displays a look of surprise and the mouth utters an apology. Then, the brain shuts down all unnecessary functions and eyeball scanning recommences at a much faster and intensified rate. The scene would be complete with the provision of some smart looking dark shades and some powerful mechanised background music.
It could be argued that there are other demands on the brain like the need for the toilet or the need to fill ones hunger but these needs are usually overridden unless the said needs are too extreme.
There are staff inwho are well trained to spot the visitor looking for that illusive taxi stand sign. The glazed robotic eyes are such a giveaway. Even before the brain has applied the brakes, the ears start to pick up on a familiar sound. 'Taxis, taxis, would you like a taxi?' With the brain temporarily disengaging most functions the phrase 'where are you going?' seems easy not to register.
As the brain processes the audio it's determination will be based on any previous pre-programming. For the uninitiated, the taxi vendors in the airport arrivals are there to provide the limousine service. This is not made clear from the outset. It's when the fare is quoted and that the penny may drop. Even then realisation may not come until the nice spacious white taxis pull up. The fare of over B1000 may not seem too shocking but tell a local friend that you just paid such a fare and they'll look at you with surprise. There is actually nothing wrong with the limousine service. The cars are well maintained, clean, and the driver welcoming but the fact is the standard taxi service is far cheaper.
The determined person must run the gauntlet of several limousine taxi vendors before the actual everyday taxi stand is found. The distance to cover feels considerable but that is more to do with heavy luggage and heavy legs. For such a vibrant airport it is astonishing that the taxi stand did not have much of a queue. Then again, the combination of limousine vendors intercepting many tourists, and the seemingly constant flow of colourful Bangkok taxis no one needs to wait too long to be on their way.
With the luggage parked and the steamy heat of Bangkok beginning to overwhelming the senses a taxi pulls up and the driver smiles gets out to help with the luggage. As the driver enquires about the destination a new adventure is about to start. One that requires prior knowledge or experience and a dash of determination.
With all the activities and hands occupied with luggage it, the brain has totally overridden the urge to take photos. Capturing moments in time that will never be repeated is always a worthwhile endeavour but at this stay it takes a back seat. And, speaking of back seats this chronicle comes to an end as the taxi awaits. EA
To be continued........