Turns out I can sleep on an airplane afterall!
Today is a bland, boring day of transit and that’s okay by us! It's nearly 9 hours to fly from Istanbul to Bangkok, plus several hours hanging around airports, combined with a big time change – it’s going to be a long day!
We leave Istanbul at 1:00 am and we land in Bangkok at 3:00 pm. We’re only in Bangkok for the night, as we depart for Myanmar bright and early the next day. We’ll be flying into one Bangkok airport and out of another, so as soon as we land we’ll be making our way across town for the glamour the second airport’s hotel. We’re anticipating some serious exhaustion and want to make the next morning’s departure as smooth as possible.
We debated the pros and cons of staying in central Bangkok for the night and seeing a bit of the city but common sense has won out. We’ll be spending a little more to stay in the airport hotel but I think it will be worth it for the convenience.
Leaving to Chance:
We’re leaving all our time in Bangkok to chance! If traffic works in our favor, we’ll arrive at the hotel in time to enjoy some time by the pool. If not, we’ll have to content ourselves with tropical drinks!
Staying at the airport hotel solves our biggest problem- getting to the airport in time for an early morning flight, through an unfamiliar city.
We paid an extra $6.50 per person to add breakfast to our room package. Considering that it would cost that much for coffee and pastries at the airport, the inclusion of fruit, eggs, cereal, and more is a great deal.
Splurges and Souvenirs:
The greatest cures for jet lag are never inexpensive. Mai Tais and room service don’t come cheap but they do sooth the soul.
SOOO... How Did Our Day Go?
Overall, it went really well! Our trip back to the Istanbul airport was easy, thanks to a local friend who brought us to the airport shuttle bus. We did encountered one glitch, however. Despite monumental efforts we couldn't find a single shop in the departures area that sold the standard water bottles, snacks , gum, magazines, etc. How was it possible that Versace and Hermes could be side by side but there wasn't so much as a Relay store to stock up on supplies!?
Our frustrating experience in the airport taught me a key travel lesson: you should never assume anything. The presumption that all airports are the same, have the same things is a false one. I really like the Gate Guru app and I should have used it in advance - it would have told me all I needed to know about the departures area.
Happily, our flight was a much better experience than our time at the airport. We slept! We really slept! Sure, it was far from perfect but several hours of shut eye in economy class was a big victory for me. And it didn't hurt that we had secured exit row seating with over 5 feet of leg room!
Before starting our round the world trip, people often asked me if I was worried about being tired and jet lagged all the time. What I've found is that fatigue and jet lag can strike at the least predictable times and that your own temperament, the smoothness of the flight, your health, the weather, and so many other factors can contribute to your experience. Overall I found the jet lag was much easier than I anticipated.
Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) wasn't as chaotic as I had anticipated and, all things considered, we moved through the airport at a good pace and had no problem finding the free shuttle bus to take us across town to Don Muang Airport (DMK). Bangkok is a massive city and I tried to take in as much as I could as we zipped around.
Even though we were relatively well rested I could feel fatigue settling in and I was happy to finally check into the Amari DMK airport hotel. Luckily we made it in time to check out the hotel pool! The sun had just set but there was still enough light to go outside and relax in the water for a little bit. After surviving an unseasonably cold week in Europe, a dunk in the tropics was just the ticket.
Beyond finally sleeping on an airplane, beyond getting splash in the pool, day 8 stands out as the Day Of Two Dinners. After our brief swim we went to the hotel's main restaurant (and the only one open). Modeled after an American style diner, it promised some home-style fare but in reality left us unsatisfied (not really a big surprise). Three hours later, just as we're contemplating going to bed and still debating if we're still hungry, we decided to give the room service menu a peak. To our delight it's full of traditional Thai dishes! Hurrah!!! In a flash we pick up the phone and ordered some red chicken curry and some chicken with cashews and chilies.
The result was the best Thai food we've ever had and one of the best meals of our trip. The food was so perfectly cooked, so flavorful, so rich, that it banished any memory of the substandard diner food from just a few hours previous. And so day 8 taught me another important travel lesson: sometimes room service is the best answer! We fell asleep with stuffed bellies and big smiles and when we awoke after 8 jet lag-less hours of sleep, we were ready to tackle our next destination: Myanmar!
Previous stop: Istanbul
Next stop: Mandalay
Related: Getting to and from Mandalay Airport
Achy Breaky Bangkok
Back to Bangkok: Day 14 &15 of our Round The Word Trip