Wednesday 2 November 2011

Bangkok airport

15:00, Bangkok time

My nose is pressed to the porthole again as we make our final descent. Gosh, it's completely waterlogged down there. But the captain says the main airport is fine. In fact it's a beautiful sunny day, apart from the band of smog hanging over the city.


Two texts from Mike:

'We've lost them. No word. Not on next Thai Air flight. V serious. FIND THEM!!!!'
and 'Text me as soon as you land.'

And one from Loc.

'Hello Mrs Eliza. I am Loc, your tour guide. Please phone me on arrival in BKK.'

Wow! The airport's completely swanked up since I was last here. Acres of marble and steel. Travelators galore. Right. Here's our luggage. And there's my suitcase. Uh! God, it's got heavier. Right, suitcase on the trolley. Trolley dolly on the trolley. Ready to go out and face the music.

Oh God! Where to start? I am just staring to left and right, wondering how to find 10 needles in an Asian haystack when I see Steve!

'Steve!' I cry. Oh my God. And there, following in a slightly weary train, are the wizened pair and the Countess and everyone! Even Miss Chick, still in her check!

'Eliza!' they chorus. 'You made it!' They seem in remarkably good spirits. Or perhaps it's just the relief of seeing their lost leader.

'What happened to you all?' I ask. 'And what are you doing here? You should have just gone through transit for the Saigon flight.'

'Well,' says Steve, giving me a knowing look. 'No Saigon flight.'

'We trusted him,' chips in Wizened 1.

'Yes, we did,' says Wizened 2. 'He said he'd been in 'Nam.'

'Chelte'nam,' scoffs the Countess.

'But how come you ended up here, and not in the transit lounge? They'd have called your flight from there. You couldn't have missed it.'

'I don't know about transit,' says Steve. 'We just followed everyone off the plane.'

'But what about your luggage?' I can't understand how they managed to buck the system. They shouldn't have been allowed through to Arrivals. 'Your bags were checked all the way through to Saigon. But if you didn't get on the flight, they would have called you over the Tannoy. Didn't you hear any announcements?'

'No,' they chorus. 'They all speak Thai, here, don't they?' says Steve, with the look of One who Knows Better.

'But the announcements would have been in English as well.'

They all look at each other, shaking their heads. 'No,' says Steve. 'All we heard was Double Dutch.'

'So have you picked up your luggage?'

'No,' says Steve. 'We were waiting for you to sort that out.'

I'm still incredulous. 'But didn't you look at the departures board, even if you did somehow end up in the main arrivals area?' I ask.

Steve nods, smiling his knowing look. 'We all had our eyes peeled. Nothing to Saigon.'

'Thai Airways? TG whatever it was? 6.25?'

'No. Chang something. Fooket. King Kong. Ho Chow Mein. No Saigon.'

Oh God. Oh God. 'Ho Chow Mein.... Do you mean Ho Chi Minh City?'

'Yes, that's the one. But, trust me, no Saigon.'

Oh God.

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