Friday, February 22, 2008

3 Countries in 15 hours

I've had crazoid travel schedules before but on Thursday when some o'youse were celebrating Chap Goh Mei I inadvertently got sucked into a travel itinerary of James Bondian nature. I had a meeting inVientienne, Laos. I had to take AirAsia but the problem was the next flight back to Malaysia was only on Saturday. So I found myself the odd Chindian out in a foursome of distinguished gentlemen in a road/air trip that saw us cross 3 borders, hit 4 airports and with a van ride through the Laotian and Northern Thai country to get back to our respective countries by Friday. Below is a re-cap. Times are accurate approximations.

9 AM, 21st February 2008 - The Chindian gets airborne from the LCCT, Sepang, Malaysia enroute to Vientienne, Laos.

10.40AM (Laos time). Arrival at Wattay International Airport, Vientienne. We're greeted by bruahaha as its AirAsia's first flight to Vientienne.

The group shot. Personalities included the very eloquent Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

12.00 PM. We arrive at the Mekong Deck restaurant along the Mekong River for lunch. I'm tinggling with anticiaption! Beer Lao by the shores of the mighty Mekong! Thani Darrrr Chindiana!

WADDAFUKKKKKKK????? Dry season. sigh......

As usual AA puts up a nice show with a very entertaining emcee. Didn't take pictures as there were too many media bustling about. I just wanted to enjoy my very first trip to Laos and especially the Mekong.

Loads full of restaurants along the river bank.

The Thai side of the river seemed a lot shadier with them trees. Lovely weather though! Cool, breezy and sunny!

2.30PM. Road Trip! We get in a van and make it across the border and the Mekong River for the Thai town of Udon Thani.

Crossing the Mekong. Interesting fact - the bridge belongs equally between Thailand and Laos BUT the border boundary favours the Laos side. Btw, that ikan bawal looking cloud was some gunk on the windshield...

Welcome to Thailand!

The drive to Udon Thani took about an hour and half from Vientienne. We realised it was a Buddhist holiday in Thailand and the roads were clear all the way. Great broad highway and we even had time to stop for some excellently fresh young coconut water by the roadside.

6.15PM. We board our AirAsia flight to Bangkok from Udon Thani. Actual flight time is about an hour. The sun sets from 35,000ft as my stomach grumbles for dinner...

7.20pm. Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. We leg it through the massive airport like scalded dogs across the endless Australian outback! We say our hurried goodbyes as some stay back in Bangkok while two of us head off to our respective departure gates back to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. No time to give the straining bladder a break as we have to check out and check back into the airport to get onto our respective AirAsia flights!

8.10pm. I make it by the skin of my teeth as passengers are already boarding when I stumble into the departure lounge desperately trying to placate my pissed off bladder. Due to one runway under repair, we're left sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes. Thank god there was a WC in the departure lounge... : )

11.45PM, 21st February 2008. Touchdown Low Cost Carrier Terminal, Sepang, Malaysia. Am surprisingly not that tired. It was probably my sampling of my first roti canai and teh tarik on a flight! (the curry is nice but the roti needs some work).

There was no time to really take in much. The country side, the people. The photos were taken on the run as you can see but it WAS an intresting trip and it well beats my last record of 4 countries in 5 days.

In the bright sunshine on the banks of the Mighty Mekong, as the chili red AirAsia banners and the white tents flutterred with the wind, Dr. Surin started his speech with, "Ladies and gentlemen, distingushed guests, today, I am the happiest man on the banks of the river Mekong..." He spoke on ASEAN and how collectively if we stand together as one we the nations of South East Asia are an economic and social force. As I looked around and saw the faces of Laotians, Thais and Malaysians sitting under one tent for one unifying reason I was tempted to be the most hopeful Chindian on the banks of the Mekong River...


Han Solo said...

Hey I was at the Mekong Deck as well, watched the sun set on my last night there!

Chindiana said...

We seem to be covering the same ground on our travels Solo! It must have been fantastic watching the sun set behind the Mekong.

eye in the sky said...

that's a great post on your vientiane visit.