In the weeks before Christmas, I flew to Shanghai with every intention to blog about my experiences, working from the Chinese metropolis. The People’s Republic of China, however, had different intentions. Here is the report of my time behind the Great Firewall. China turned out be different from what I expected and was told.
On this blue Sunday, I find myself in limbo at Bangkok International Airport. While I usually adore arriving at Suvarnabhumi, this particular visit feels surreal. Yes, I am on Thai soil and my AIS SIM-card connects to the mobile network, yet I am not able to leave the airport. Yes, I was out in the open air for a full 3 minutes, yet I am not able to meet my lovely wife. Yes, I am able to buy a sandwich at the very same Subway stand I always buy a snack before I leave, yet I have just arrived. Yes, it is 07:57 local time, but it’s only 01:57 in Belgium, and 08:57 in Shanghai where my next flight will land around 16:00. All a bit confusing, but that’s not all.
Over the past weeks, a few people asked if I had been cured of the writing bug. While I do appreciate the concern, that is not at all what happened. Recently, I was given an international assignment, for which preparations also required some travel. Some of you might have seen a few pictures taken in Prague on my Instagram feed. In fact, that was all I have been able to post, up to now. Waiting at the gate for my next flight, I will start to tell you about my new adventure and take you along with me on tour of duty. Before the Thai Airways bird leads you to the assumption of another Thai adventure … it’s not that simple. More info on my next layover. Now, time for coffee.
A professional visit to Prague presented the perfect opportunity to experiment with low-light photography in a different setting. With mixed results, to be honest. The pictures below are the only ones worth posting. With diversions off the table for now, it is back to the writing table. Another Thailand-related story is in the works.
At least twice a year I fly from Brussels to Bangkok and back. My wife usually makes the same round-trip in the opposite direction every 12 months. With intercontinental flights not exactly cheap, we try to maximize our budget. Let me teach you the tricks we have picked up over time. Some are obvious, others a lot less so. Most European frequent flyers will probably benefit from reading this post. As an example, my latest air fare was just EUR 314.
Our increasing use of smartphones, tablets and laptops while traveling implies a constant quest for a power outlet to charge them. Hotels, on the other hand, try to minimize their electricity bill by using a key card holder, so the electricity switches off when you’re not there. As a result, hotel guests are not able to charge batteries while out-and-about. There is a clever way around it, however. Refrigerators do not switch off, as it would make them useless. Just use that outlet for charging, while you’re not there. It may require some fidgeting or even a splitter, but I guarantee it works.
For over a decade Paypal has been my preferred means of online payment. It’s reliable, swift, offers good support and any kind of dispute is solved without a hitch. They had really earned my trust, but a recent practical problem has made me wonder if Paypal has realized that times have changed. They are not suited for international travelers at all, which is extremely peculiar for an online payment system in the 21st century. Let me tell you why.
Last week Khwantippa and myself were invited to join her friends Nong Shompoo and Pee Add to visit Khao Yai National Park, one of the local sites we had not yet been to. The trip is the perfect opportunity to tell you about the slightly lesser-known nature preserve and a suitable vehicle to point out cultural differences, similarities and habits of the Thai middle class. A story in-between, on many different levels.
After months and months of anticipation, I finally find myself sitting at Gate B of Brussels Airport, waiting for the red-eye that will bring me hop-skip-layover-and-away to the Land of Smiles. For the remaining months of the year, I am skipping part of winter and residing in Thailand. Why and how? I will tell you the story and my adventures over the coming period. A story about Thailand that is rarely told. Not just one of beaches, tourist attractions or large cities, neither one of rural locations, poverty or primitive conditions … One about real life in the middle, about Siam In-between.