Prepaid GSM
Getting around

Part 2: Chengdu, Tibet, Guangzhou

09.10: Seoul -> Beijing
10.10: Beijing
11.10: Beijing
12.10: Beijing -> Xian
13.10: Xian
14.10: Xian
15.10: Xian->Chengdu
16.10: Chengdu->Lhasa
17.10: Lhasa
18.10:  Lhasa
19.10:  Lhasa
20.10:  Lhasa (LXA)
21.10: LXA->Guangzhou
22.10:  Guangzhou - > Bangkok
23.10: BKK -> Munich

15.10:  Xian -> Chengdu
Sim's Cozy Guesthouse, Chengdu. Ugly "backpacker" place. We pay 140 yuan for a room with four beds (two couples of stacked wooden beds), a table, a chair and nothing else. The shared toilet is somewhere at the end of the corridor, the shared shower somewhere else. The room has an A/C unit. The room is noisy, as people outside run around making noise, especially in the evening. Overall this place *sucks* and is bad value, because for 200 yuan (just 60 yuan more) you can have a comfortable room with bathroom in a three star hotel.
Weather: Fresh, sunny with a few clouds in Xian in the morning. In Chengdu initially overcast, then sunny later in the afternoon. It gets warm enough to walk around with a T-shirt.

We get up at 7am and leave the hotel at 8:30am. The taxi ride to the airport (120 yuan) takes only half an hour. In the airport there are a couple of restaurants, which however only serve Chinese food. In the end we settle down for a cafe, where we order a tuna sandwich, noodles with beef and two teas (one milk, one lemon tea). Sorry no lemon available, I have to take a milk tea. Do they have spoons ? No, no tea spoons available - they bring us some straw initially, after some pina colada sticks, with which we mix the tea. By the way, the tea is in glasses, not cups, so you burn your fingers if you drink it.

The plane leaves on time at 10:35am and lands on time in Chengdu. Around 12pm we have retrieved the luggage and head towards the hotel reservation counter. Long debate with my sweet wife, whether to take the deluxe room with Internet access in the four star hotel or the standard room (Internet access in the business centre). Shirley wants to save some money, I'd like to have the Internet access in the room.

But... surprise, surprise, today all three, four and five star hotels in Chengdu are fully booked, because of a congress. Great news - we call Sim's Cozy guesthouse and ask if they have a room. First they say we have to share it with four other people, then they tell us to come. Since we have to go there anyway to fetch the ticket and don't know of other places to go to, we take a taxi to this guesthouse.

The taxi ride from the airport to the guesthouse (which is in downtown Chengdu) takes 40 minutes and costs 52 yuan. The guesthouse sucks (see above), but we have no other option, so end up staying there.

We have some food in the guesthouse (the food is good and cheap), then at 2:20pm take a taxi to the Giant Panda Breeding Centre north of Chengdu, arriving there at 2:45pm (taxi ride is 32 yuan). The breeding centre is very interesting, allowing visitors to see Giant Pandas in a semi-natural habitat. We spend one hour there, then take a taxi to the Wenshu Buddhist temple. Very nice scenic temple, we spend half an hour there.

After that, at 5:15pm we take a taxi to a shopping complex area in downtown Chengdu. Chengdu is a clean, modern city and there are lots of street works taking place right now to improve the infrastructure (streets, pavements etc.). After some shopping we have dinner in a higher end restaurant serving western food (good food, good value at 130 yuan for two).

After dinner we look for an ATM, as we will soon run out of Chinese cash. It takes about 20 minutes to find one, as the first four banks we try don't accept non-Chinese ATM cards.

We get back to the hotel by taxi. There I receive the tickets from Helen, who manages together with "Peter" the travel agency business of the guesthouse. The flight to Lhasa costs 2340 yuan (1st class ticket), while the flight from Lhasa to Guangzhou costs 2640 yuan (!). Very expensive and I remember the travel agency in the hotel in Xian had quoted a price of 2000 yuan, but Helen insists that that is the price. The total for the two tickets and the permit is 5390 yuan (!).

Around 9pm I briefly check the emails with the computers of the guesthouse (3 yuan for 30 minutes, slow connection). The Internet weather forecast for Lhasa is not good. Besides being cold, it will rain on Sunday and from Thursday onwards, i.e. there will be only two sunny days on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is even a forecast for snow on Thursday. Not sure if I have enough warm clothes with me. Perhaps I will fly earlier from Lhasa to Guangzhou.

16.10:  Chengdu -> Lhasa
Hotel Airway, Lhasa. 1 Niang Re road, next to the Potala palace, Tel. 0891-6915660. 400 yuan for a very comfortable suite with a bedroom and a dining room with a big TV, heater etc. There is also a TV in the bedroom. Nothing is missing (phone, bath with hairdryer, Intenet line in the room. Very good value. The only problem is that I can't manage to get the DSL line in the room to work (probably some network problem), but the ladies in the reception allow me to use the Ethernet line of the business centre. The bathroom has an electrical water heater (80 litres, but only 2KW, heating takes for ever). By the way, they don't take credit cards - only cash.
Weather: Overcast and cold in Chengdu in the morning. In Lhasa sunny, very strong sun which warms everything. You can walk around with a T-shirt, as long as you are in the sunshine.

We get up at 6:40am and after a brief breakfast leave at 8am in the car of the Sim's Cozy guesthouse. The drive to the airport takes half an hour. At the airport I'm handed over to another guy, who takes my passport and flight ticket and goes to an economy class check-in counter. There he gets a print out with something on it (probably a list of names; I probably am on a one-person group tour to Tibet) and with that we go to the first class check-in, where the clerk checks me in. Then the guy walks with me to the security check where he again hands over the printout to the control guy, who chops my boarding pass. And apparently that's it - I'm allowed to proceed to Tibet. The "Tibet permit" is not a piece of paper, it's just an arrangement so that you can get through the security check.

In the meantime Shirley has checked in and, since she is on another gate, we split. See you in six days in Bangkok, dear Sunshine.

I proceed to the first class lounge where I write this piece of the travelogue and check my emails. Then I proceed to the gate. The plane leaves on time at 10:25am. The economy class is indeed full; in the first class where I am there are three empty places (out of eight). The flight itself is great - every now and then you see snow capped peaks poking through the clouds.

The plane lands about 15 minutes late in Lhasa. After getting the luggage, I start looking for a hotel booking counter. But there is none, probably because everybody arrives with a package. So I take the bus to Lhasa (25 yuan), which leaves at 12:55pm.

The drive to Lhasa takes forever - more than one hour and a half. Hard to believe that the airport is so far away. The bus arrives in a square next to the Potala palace, behind the Airway hotel. This looks like a very nice hotel, almost too much luxury for me. I walk in and ask for a room. They show me a great room with a direct view of the Potala palace. At just 400 yuan this is a bargain. Perhaps the price is so low, because this is the off-season or because I'm staying for five days.

I spend the afternoon exploring Lhasa and shooting photos of the Potala palace. I also look for an ATM and can't find one. The only one which accepts international ATM cards is out of service (the one of the bank of China). Later I hear from a traveller that there is another branch of the bank of China, where the ATM works. I also look for a travel agency, to ask for tours, and can't find one. Later I hear that there is a cheap one in the hotel Banak Shol.

The location of the hotel, next to the Potala palace, is excellent, but in this hotel you are completely cut off from the backpacker travel environment. There is no infrastructure for western travellers near the hotel: no restaurants, no travel agencies, no shops catering to western travellers. The area around the hotel has many shops, some bakeries, one restaurant, but all these target Chinese tourists. BTW, Lhasa looks like a nice, modern Chinese town.

In the evening I have a dinner in the restaurant of the hotel and apparently I order the wrong thing. I get a  dish with peas, slices of bacon full of fat - very greasy stuff. While I have dinner, between 7:30 and 8pm, I'm the only customer in the restaurant.

17.10:  Lhasa
Hotel Airway, Lhasa.
Weather: Sunny the whole day in Lhasa, no clouds. Warm in the sun, cold in the shadows.

Last night was crazy. I went sleeping around 11:30pm with a cold and feeling sick. I wake up at 2am, then sleep again until 3am. I wake up again, with headache, sore throat, nausea. Can't sleep for the next two hours and even throw up. I guess I have a mix of a cold (which I caught in Xian), mountain sickness and yesterday's dinner was too heavy. In any case I'm pretty much sick. Looks like today I will spend most of my time in the hotel room.

I wake up at 9am, still feeling sick. I just stay in bed until noon, trying to fix the computer (it had broken down at 5am, while I was checking my images). It's sort of a loose contact - all of a sudden the power supply stops recharging the battery. I assume the error is in the notebook, as it happens when I move it. I even open the X31 IBM Thinkpad, looking for a loose contact. 

Around 2pm I get out of the hotel room, because I have eaten almost nothing today and start walking towards the Bharkor. The idea is to check at the travel agency in the Banak Shol hotel for day trips to the Nam-tso lake and the Ganden monastery.

I also have half an idea to fix the notebook (at the moment the power supply is unable to power the notebook and recharge the batteries - I'm left with the three hours of juice of the second battery - a serious problem since I use the notebook to manage my site at molon.de, write the travelogue and check the photos). Without notebook I would have to write the travelogue with the Palm Tungsten organiser, with its tiny keyboard.

I check a couple of supermarkets, but they sell neither screwdrivers nor souldering irons. Around 2:45pm I reach the Barkhor square, a pretty colourful place with lots of Tibetan pilgrims and Buddhist monks. Nice Jokhang temple. Lots of beggars by the way. The area around the Jokhang temple is full of shops selling tourist stuff. Looks like I'm in the "backpacker zone".

After that I get back to the main road and walk eastwards, stopping at a branch of the bank of China. This time the ATM works and I can withdraw cash. Near the bank of China is the Banak Shol backpacker hotel. In the basement there is a travel agency (F.I.T. travel, Tel. 0891-6344397). The price for a day trip to the Nam-tso lake is 1000 yuan for the whole car (five hours to get there) and 1100 yuan with a better car (four hours to get there). The day trip to the Ganden monastery costs 400 yuan (two hours to get there, 40 km - why so slow?). The Ganden trip seems a bit expensive, because it's 400 yuan for a relatively short distance.

Around 4pm I walk back to the hotel and run into a shop selling electrical gear. I buy a soldering iron (15 yuan), tin-solder, two screwdrivers, and an analog multimeter (unbelievably cheap at 15 yuan).

I get back to the hotel and spend the next three-four hours fixing the notebook. Will spare you the details, but the first surprise is that the output of the power supply is 0 Volt. This means the notebook is ok and it's the power supply which is causing problems. It takes time to understand what the problem with the power supply is. I even get back to the shop where the owner helps me to open the power supply with a saw (it's sealed, no screws). Lots of communication with hands and the Chinese translator loaded on my organiser.

In the end it turns out that the cable of the power supply has developed a short circuit in the plug. Lots of work to kind of temporarily fix it (I have to fix it, as it is impossible to find a new power supply for an IBM X31 Thinkpad in a remote place like Lhasa). In the two years in which I have used this subnotebook, the subnotebook has performed flawlessly and has not developed defects. But the power supply unit has failed twice (including today), always in the plug. This is a big issue because if almost anything else fails in a notebook you can still continue working, but without power supply you can no longer use the notebook in a matter or hours, when the batteries discharge. Two failures in two years - this means power supplies for IBM notebooks fail on average after one year. You might find yourself in a remote area with no IBM service centre and not everybody is able to fix a power supply. IBM needs to improve the reliability of their power supply units.

In the evening I go again to the same restaurant and this time order light, easy digestible stuff. Overall I'm feeling better and I'll probably do the Ganden trip tomorrow.

18.10:  Lhasa
Hotel Airway, Lhasa. This morning in the toilet there was not enough water pressure. It took forever to have a shower.
Weather: Sunny with a thin layer of clouds in the morning, getting more thick in the afternoon. Is the weather getting worse ? In the evening the cloud covers opens up.

I'm still sick and this is a problem, as the trip to the Nam-Tso lake will be tough and the weather is getting worse. After two great sunny days (Sunday and Monday) with a spotless blue sky, today there is a clouds layer in the sky and the weather forecast says the weather will worsen (it might even snow). I should do the Nam-Tso trip as soon as possible, but need a few days to get fit again. Needless to say, no trip to the Ganden monastery today (still have headache, cough and a running nose).

Communication in Chinese is still a problem, as I'm only able to communicate on a simple level - and this after four years of evening school in Germany. In theory I should be able to handle sophisticated communication, with complex sentence structures, in practice however most of the time the Chinese don't understand me (probably because I use the wrong tones) and I don't understand them, which is kind of frustrating. I guess I should change study method and take a conversation course (currently, in the courses of the evening school I take, we are basically learning by heart from the book).

The funny thing is that if my wife is having a conversation in Chinese (Mandarin) with somebody, I am able to capture 80% of what they say. On the other hand my wife had trouble communicating in Mandarin while she was in Beijing, Xian and Chengdu. She is a native Chinese speaker, but there were words she could not understand. When for instance speaking with the staff at the Sim's Cozy guesthouse in Chengdu, she had to switch to English, because she could not understand them. Probably there are many local dialects in China or people simply use different versions of Mandarin.

In any case now it's 4pm, and besides briefly leaving the hotel at 2pm for lunch and some shopping, I've been in the hotel room most of the time. I slept until 11am, which is ok, but I'm still not fit. Probably I have a mix of a cold and a slight mountain sickness.

In the evening I wonder what to do. Should I shorten my stay by one day and leave Lhasa on Thursday instead of Friday ? I'd solve the mountain sickness problem and probably also the cold problem, as my next destination, Guangzhou, is at sea level and pretty warm (probably warm enough to walk around in shorts and T-shirt. On the other hand Guangzhou probably is a polluted place and it's kind of cool being at 3700 metres above sea level. I'm still tempted to do the Nam-Tso trip. Will decide tomorrow based on the weather and my overall fitness status.

By the way, it's great being fully connected on the top of the world. Since I'm not sure if the pills I bought this afternoon in the pharmacy really are aspirin (writing is in Chinese characters), I take a picture and email it to Shirley who right now is back in Malaysia. Then, while I'm online with my notebook in the business centre of the hotel, my brother Markus calls me through Skype from Europe. We have a chat and I ask for some tips about mountain sickness. While we are at that I add Shirley to the telephone conversation, making a conference (Tibet-Malaysia-Europe). Parallel to that I do my emails and correct the names of the photos of the Kuching gallery of my site (a tourist guide from  Kuching, Malaysia just sent me an email with the correct names).

19.10:  Lhasa
Hotel Airway, Lhasa.
Weather: Sunny, spotless blue sky with only a few little clouds. The Internet weather forecast for today was rain and snow, with temperatures below the freezing point. Late in the afternoon a thick cloud cover approaches from the south, but it dissolves in the evening.

It seems I'm back in the world of the living, after two days of being essentially uncapable to do anything. Even better, today is a sunny day with a blue sky (not a rainy cold day, according to the Internet weather forecast). So I'm going to do the Ganden monastery trip today.

I get up around 9:15am, after a night with ups and downs (I wake up a couple of times). By the time I make it to the restaurant at 9:55am it's already too late for breakfast. So I go out and buy some apples, and have a breakfast with apples, milk and tea.

Then I call the FIT travel agency and arrange the tour to the Ganden monastery for today, leaving at 1pm. Tomorrow I'll do the Nam-Tso lake tour, weather permitting.

At noon I have lunch in the restaurant of the hotel and at 1pm the driver knocks at my door and we leave. The drive to the Ganden monastery takes, including photo stops, one hour and a half. At 2:30pm we are there. Pretty cool setting, on top of a mountain overlooking the Lhasa valley. Later I find out that the monastery is at 4500 metres a.s.l. - that's pretty much the highest altitude where I've ever been. I have just acclimatised to 3700 metres, and now I find myself at 4500 metres. But I have no problems breathing and walking around.

I spend over two hours in the monastery, exploring the place and having a chat with the monks. I meet a Dutch guy who makes it to the monastery with a mountain bike - not bad, but this guy is perfectly acclimatised, having been at high altitudes for weeks already. Pretty cool views and great colours.

Around 4pm a convoy of Chinese police (or army) cars arrives. About two dozens uniformed people descend and I wonder what is going on. Are they here on a leisure trip or are they checking the monastery ? I wonder if I have a permit to be here (the FIT travel agency didn't hand any piece of paper to me).

At 4:45pm we drive back. In the meantime a thick layer of clouds is approaching from the south and for a while the whole sky is overcast.

By the way, the sun at 4500 metres is strong. I realise it later in the hotel, when I notice that my entire head is tomato-red.

When we arrive in Lhasa at 6pm I'm really tired. I won't do the Nam-Tso trip tomorrow. It's just too tiring - four hours to go and four hours to come back. I'm still not 100% fit and need to take a rest. After all this should be a holiday...

In the evening I don't do much. Tomorrow I might do some short trip to some interesting place (monastery, Tibetan village ?) and do some shopping.

20.10:  Lhasa
Hotel Airway, Lhasa.
Weather: Overcast the whole day, no rain. The clouds layer briefly opens up between 3 and 5pm and the sun shines through. Not that cold, although in the evening you need a jacket. And no snow or rain, despite the Internet forecast.

Crazy night last night. Looks like I was too active yesterday, and that trip to the Ganden monastery at 4500 metres probably was a bit too much. I'm still not 100% acclimatised, although I can walk up and down hills without problems. But the sun is so strong and the wind is cold.

Basically I wake up around 2-3am with a very strong headache. Not even two pills of Paracetamol solve the problem. I'm awake until 6am, then sleep until noon. By the way, I think that the dinner yesterday in the Chinese restaurant was still too heavy.

In any case I leave the hotel around 1:30pm, after drinking a bottle of banana milk as a "brunch". The idea is to visit the Potala Palace (not that I'm particularly interested to see it inside, but since I'm already here and have time...) and the Drepung monastery.

I walk to entrance to the west of the palace. In front of the palace there are Tibetan pilgrims, praying on the ground. The entrance ticket is a steep 100 yuan. Another (western) tourist complains "how can you charge 100 yuan, when half of the palace is closed". Later I realise that half of the palace is more than enough (actually I suspect I only see a small fraction of it), and that the 100 yuan are not worth it. If you are in Lhasa, don't visit the inside of the palace.

Basically what you see is a number of chapels, full of statues and figures, holy things etc. Photography is not allowed and in the chapels they have smelly candles (probably burning Yak fat ?). After a few minutes in the chapels I reach overload and am happy when I finally finish visiting the palace. Kind of a feeling of diving back into the dark ages, with those dark chapels overloaded with religious stuff. I'm not a fan of Christian churches either, but at least European churches are cleaner and more bright inside.

At 2:45pm (spent a total of one hour in the Potala palace) I walk out. Now the sun is peeking through the clouds. After buying some food at the market I take a taxi to the Drepung monastery. The taxi driver isn't using the meter, but is asking 25 yuan which is ok for a 7km trip. He offers to bring me to the airport tomorrow for 150 yuan (which is cheap for a 90 km trip).

At 3:15pm we reach the Drepung monastery, which looks ok, but is not too impressive. The entry ticket is 50 yuan, pricier than elsewhere, and in most chapels they charge an additional 10 to 20 yuan if you want to shoot photos. These guys are more cash-oriented than elsewhere. The monastery itself is worth the visit - I spend over an hour there, until 4:40pm.

After I call the taxi with the mobile phone and get back into Lhasa, to the Barkhor area. I'm actually looking for some nice souvenir, but can't find anything suitable. So I walk back and on the way back I buy some pills against headache and mountain sickness in a pharmacy (should have done this on my first day). It's a Chinese product whose English name is "Plateau Safty", a 20 pills box for 28 yuan, to be taken 2-4 tablets/time, 3-5 times/day. This thing will last only for one day, if taken at the highest dosage.

21.10:  Lhasa -> Guangzhou
Hotel Huifu, Guangzhou. Three star hotel, overpriced at 480 yuan for a room with bath, A/C, TVs etc. but no Internet connection. For an Internet connection you have to pay 100 yuan extra. It is possible that right now there is a trade fair, with resulting higher hotel prices.
Weather: Partly overcast in the morning in Lhasa. The sky opens up a bit at 1pm in Lhasa airport. Fresh in Lhasa, you need a (light) jacket. No rain. Humid and not cold in the evening in Guangzhou.

Although I took the pills yesterday, I still woke up around 3am and couldn't sleep for several hours. The pills helped, but didn't make the headache go away. All in all I have swallowed 10 of these pills between yesterday evening and this morning, but I still haven't had a good night of sleep. Next time I visit Lhasa I'll bring a huge pack of aspirine and paracetamol pills with me.

At 10am I check out. Surprisingly the bill shows a room price of 250 yuan/night, but the receptionist assures me the price is 400 yuan. Are they perhaps cheating the taxman ?

The taxi drive to the airport (150 yuan) takes slightly over an hour. When I arrive at 11am something the check-in counter hasn't opened yet. Hmmm, I could have slept longer.

The plane to Guangzhou leaves more or less on time and is quite full. This flight will make a stopover in Zhongdian, alhough Amadeus showed a stop in Diqing. Perhaps Diqing and Zhongdian share the same airport. By the way, the sky over Tibet is covered by a thick layer of clouds.

Well, the plane doesn't stop in Zhongdian - it stops in Diqing at 2:40pm for about 40 minutes, then takes off again for Guangzhou, reaching Guangzhou at 5:30pm, way ahead of the time (scheduled arrival was 6:10pm).

The airport is relatively new and modern and really huge. After retrieving the luggage I head towards the hotel booking counter. The people there are a bit messy. They end up putting me in an overpriced three star hotel.

To get to the hotel I take the bus (20 yuan) which after a series of loops and stops, finally drops me off around 7 something pm (trip took about 40 minutes) somewhere in Guangzhou, from where I take a taxi to the hotel.

Around 8pm I go out again and have initially some food, then look for and find an Internet cafe (3 yuan/hour), where I check my emails. Then I take a taxi to the river and from there I walk along the waterfront towards the hotel.

Guangzhou reminds me a lot a Chinese town in Malaysia - same layout, same shops, same style, same people.

22.10:  Guangzhou -> Bangkok
Hotel Rama Gardens, about 15 minutes from Bangkok airport. We pay 2815 Baht for a deluxe double with a baby bed. The room is big and nice, sort of "luxury", but the bed is hard and there is no Internet connection in the room (it's time that the Thais catch up with the competition). Breakfast is not included, but for 350 Baht/person you can have a buffet breakfast with a wide choice (good value if you eat a lot). The hotel is nice in a nice setting, and it's a pity that we just spend the night there.
Weather: Sunny the whole day, no clouds, no rain. Although Guangzhou has a subtropical climate, it is possible to walk around the whole day with a T-shirt and trousers without sweating. I'd guess the temperature is around 25-30°C (more towards 30°C). When I get out of the airport in Bangkok in the evening, I'm overwhelmed by the tropical heat outside. I've spent three weeks in places with moderate to fresh climates (Taiwan being the warmest place) and Thailand is very hot compared to the other places.

My altitude-based health problems (headache, bleeding nose, insomnia) are all gone. Yesterday I fall asleep at midnight like a stone and sleep for the first time after several days non-stop until 9:30am. This morning I'm completely 'rehabilitated'.

I pack my things and check out at 12pm, leaving the bags in the hotel. When I try to photocopy some pages of the LP guide for Guangzhou so I don't have to carry the book with me, the hotel staff tells me to go to an external copy shop. Apparently they have no business centre.

At 12:30pm I have some fast food in the McDonald restaurant, then take a taxi to the international convention centre. After that I have a look at the island Shamian Dao. Quite relaxed place, with old colonial style buildings. Lots of wedding couples there for photo sessions.

At 3pm I take a taxi to the Buddhist temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurongsi Huata). Quite nice and with a 55m pagoda, on whose top you can climb. At 4:10pm I take a taxi to the Beijing Lu shopping street, which is a pedestrian area full of shops and people. Lots of Chinese approching me offering fake watches and Armani suits. Later they even try to sell notebook computers (Toshiba) - would you buy a notebook computer on the street like that ? Perhaps there is a notebook factory in or near Guangzhou.

By the way, the emphasis in Guangzhou is international trade and selling Chinese products. Lots of billboards advertising trade fairs for instance.

After Bejing Lu, at 5:10pm,  I take a taxi to the Shangxia 9 Lu shopping area. Again full of people and very lively. This one is more modern than Beijing Lu. At 5:40pm I head back to the hotel, again by taxi.

At 6pm, after retrieving the luggage in the hotel, I take a taxi to the airport. There is some traffic jam and the drive takes around 50 minutes (I'm in the airport at 6:50pm).

At the airport the check-in counter of Thai airways is very slow. It takes over half an hour to check-in. Then you have to pass through a series of checks: 1. a health check (thermometer measuring your body temperature); 2. fill out a customs declaration form about the stuff you are carrying with you; 3. fill out a departure form and get through immigration; 4. security check. By the time I finally make it to the gate it's already 8pm. I quickly buy a sandwich in a cafe (don't trust the food od Thai and am very hungry anyway) and board the plane.

The Thai flight TG679 leaves more or less on time. The plane itself is very full. It lands on time in Bangkok airport. There I meet Shirley and finaly my sweet baby who caught a cold in KL, because it has been raining for days and she was most of the time indoors with the cold A/C.

After refusing all limousine services we end up taking a taxi outside. Actually, given that we are three and have a lot of luggage, it would have made sense to use one of those limo services, as the car is bigger. The taxi trip to the hotel is 143 Baht + 50 Baht. I add a tip, offering the driver a total of 250 Baht. I hand over a 500 Baht bill and wait for the change. This greedy guy starts giving me a 20 Baht note, then two 100 Baht notes. Where are the remaining 30 Baht? I ask for that, the guy smiles and hands over two 10 Baht coins, then a 5 Baht coin, and after I insist he finally hands over the third 10 Baht coin. Why try to grab more money, when I gve him a very generous tip of 30% ? In China taxi drivers bring you from A to B, don't expect any tip (they don't even ask for one) and don't try to cheat you.

23.10:  Bangkok -> Munich
Hotel: home, sweet home
Weather: never mind. In any case it's overcast in Bangkok when we leave and not that hot in the morning.

Not much to say, except that the plane is 1:30 h late, meaning that we will arrive in Munich at 8:30pm.

Copyright 2005 Alfred Molon