Monday, 18 January 2016

321 ADVENTURE THRU THAILAND, LAOS AND CAMBODIA (4-16 January 2016), Day 1 - Papa lost his nuts


Lunch with Prim
Arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport
Ubon Bliss
Odd Sized Luggage means lugging yourself!
January 4th is the first day of school for Singapore and Malaysia. Marking the end of the holidays and Monday, the start of the work week,  VT and Claudine set off from home at 6 am. In anticipation of a severe jam, they were pleasantly surprised when their hired private car cruised into Departure Lane just before 8 am.

Breakfast was at the "1983" coffee shop. VT had a big breakfast of Nasi Lemak served with fried chicken, fish and egg. Claudine could not resist her favourite Kaya toast served with a chunk of cold butter and half boiled eggs. Together they downed their breakfasts with hot milk tea.

With so many hours to burn, VT went window shopping leaving Claudine with her app chats and social medias. After an hour, they reckon time ticks slower in the 80's!!! They moved out of the time warp to present day, checked in their bikes and moved on to another cosy area for yet another retreat.

KC checked in at 9.30am. He passed through immigration after a short chat with The Choongs. He was bent on breaking down his USD into smaller denominations. Hence, he went hunting for more money changers.

After awhile, there wasn't much going on in social medias. Claudine tried a snooze. She felt like a modern day gypsy traveller, bent over 2 chairs with a half feet gap in between! She managed a half conscious state of slumber for 20 minutes!

When the muscles will take no more of the twist and stretch of a circus contortionist, Claudine got up. She spotted Alvin, Celia and Frank at the Tiger check in counter at 10.10 am!

Hurray! More company!!!

As VT hurried over to help with the bike boxes, greetings were exchanged. Meanwhile, Claudine received a most thoughtful gift, a silk travel blanket from Mr and Mrs LTF! This will prove to be very useful on Day 5.

Everyone were already informed of Alvin's medical condition. Coming home from Japan, a few days ago, he had carried 10 days worth of shopping on top of the already heavy luggages. Suspected slipped discs on L3 and L4, he had even gone for traction the day before! We could only pray for the best.

As some of us had not had breakfast, we proceeded to the airport's staff canteen for a quick bite. Ying Chang our other LTF team member dropped by with wife Doreen. He had to sit out this trip but came all the same to give us moral support!


It was a brief get together. While everyone chatted away, Celia and Claudine gobbled down bak chor mee, yet managed some decent conversation. Frank bought everyone drinks. After that, there were the usual hugs and goodbyes just before immigration. Thereafter, we stepped through passport controls and left our "Macgyver" and his glamorous wife behind.

Papa Mike met us at the gate but KC only came in when Tiger air was starting to board the passengers!!!

On flight, Celia walked the cabin distributing mua chee from Japan. She was made chief stewardess by the LTF team. Best tasting mua chees around!


Suvarnabhumi airport was super crowded! Immigration was packed and would have taken us 1 hour to clear, had we followed the usual queues. Thankfully, we were not ordinary travellers. With Celia's and Frank's APEC cards, we were whisked through at the special lane!!!!

The next few hours was a flurry of events....To the conveyor belt to pick up Papa's bags....To the odd size luggage counter to pick up our bike boxes....Contacting Prim, Alvin's beautiful "adopted" sister from Bangkok....lunch with Prim...

We had another big task at hand before lunch. Checking in for our next flight to Ubon Ratchathani was the taller order! With 7 bike boxes on 4 trolleys, we made 2 merry go rounds in the overcrowded airport before establishing there was only one visible lift with a long queue!

VT's suggestion of running the bike boxes on the travellator was agreed by all. Frank and VT were designated jobs on the receiving end while Papa, KC and Claudine sent them up. Halfway on the job, there was a huge confusion as the boxes were going up faster than what VT and Frank could cope! The boxes were also clogging up the walkway. Celia and Alvin were the coordinators and in charge of the panniers. Then, there was the issue of who is looking after the boxes at both ends!

The worst was Departure Hall was 2 levels up!!!!

When we finally got to Thai Smiles' Check in Counter, we heard loud screaming and cheering. No wonder the airport was so crowded!!! In the house, was a Korean pop group that only Celia recognizes. Sadly, they did not get the accorded fan attention from us!


Our next order was to move our bikes to the odd sized luggage counter. Since Celia's, Frank's and VT's bike boxes were slightly damaged, we wondered if it will survive the second leg! Thankfully, VT had brought masking tape for mending.


The most lovely and beautiful Prim met us for lunch. With everything checked in, we could finally relax and enjoy our lunch at S&P Simply Delicious Restaurant inside the airport.


Thai Smiles truly made us smile! Sausage and cheese bun with your choice of drinks were served on that short flight. Mr Bean was showing on the small overhead inflight TV. Toilets were clean.

While we boarded on a bright scorching day, we now arrive at Ubon Ratchathani in darkness. Nightfalls very early in this part of the world.

The airport at UR was small but traveller friendly. There was a water dispenser at the baggage area. Toilets were clean.

We found ourselves a small quiet corner at Arrival Hall to assemble our bikes. Everyone worked quietly except for Frank and Papa.

Frank was a nervous wreck. He broke his tube valve while trying to work his pump. Alvin calmed him down and between Alvin, KC and Claudine, they managed to get his tyres pumped up.

Papa screwed up either during packing or unpacking. He lost a hub nut on his wheel. Chief engineer, KC declared the bike unfit for riding. With that, Papa had to repack his bike into a bike bag and hitch a taxi ride to the hotel.

Meanwhile, the balance of the team rode the 5-6 km to the hotel with a minor hiccup at the traffic lights. VT had to stop to tighten his handlebar while Celia waited with him. We later regrouped further down the road and and managed to ride to Ubon Bliss Hotel with no more incidences. We arrived just as Papa's taxi came to a halt at the lobby!


The Ozzie team came out to greet us! The Howards and Meadows had travelled to Kuala Lumpur the night before, briefly slept at Tune Hotel before starting their second leg to UR in the morning.

Greetings were exchanged. Introductions were made. Group photos were taken. Briefings were given.


Then... Dinner on the streets! Noodle soup with meatballs, Pad Thai and to top it up...LTF's favorite....7 Eleven fare!!!

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