The good news is, were back in Thailand.
The bad news is, I’ve got a really bad cold with a cough that resembles juggling a hessian sack of marbles and a pulled muscle in my chest/ neck which i acquired during a really bad bought of hacking.
I found the only way to avoid serious pain is to raise my right arm straight up in the air, bend the elbow and put my fore arm behind my head. This works OK as long as your not in public. On the plane i looked like i was sending semaphore with rickets.
Jaki finished the winter term with a rotten cold and as expected, i picked it up a few days before we were due to fly. She had on several occasions tried to tell me some of the finer details of her suffering but i had refused to listen.
So, I was shocked when I found (after a particularly energetic bought of coughing) myself in the scene from ‘The Alien’ where Sigourney Weaver gives birth to a slimy alien baby.
I had no maternal feelings for this creature and happily flushed him (i saw it as a him) down the loo without a backward glance. But as with Sigourney, i found, in the small print that I was contracted to feature in Aliens 2 & 3.
Saturday the 19th (would have been my Mums 83rd Birthday) i felt a little better and i convinced myself I would be fine. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
Sunday morning found me hanging.
But there was nothing that could be done other than grit my teeth and get on with it.
We left home at 0930 for a leisurely 2 hour drive to Heathrow.
We’d booked ‘Meet and Greet’ parking which was a bit expensive (£130) but it does take away an awful lot of grief. So following the instructions provided we took junction 3 off the M4. (Or was it Junction 4 off the M3)?
There was a bit of confusion at the last minute when we were required to take a ticket at the barrier and enter the ‘short stay parking’ and it was only then that we saw the signs to meet and greet. Valet parking was clearly signed but that is something different.
Check in was a bit odd.
We’d printed tickets on line from the Qatar airways web-site (36 hours before departure which was 0305 hrs in the morning) and that in itself was a challenge that would have defeated The Egg Heads.
After several false dawn’s we did check us all in and book our allocated seats, though it wasn’t an easy process.
Georgia is only flying one way so her flight was treated as a totally separate booking. So we booked her seat and then had to go through the same process with ours and try to get us all sitting next to each other, which wasn’t easy as most seats had already been taken. Also, some of the information requested wasn’t on the Itinerary provided by STA travel so we had to do things the long way around.
When we got to the Qatar baggage check in at Heathrow we were surprised to have to wait in a queue for nearly an hour where as the queue for people who hadn’t checked in on line, was shorter and moved much quicker. Probably because they had more gates open?
Once this was done we went through all the indignities of passport control, scanning, body checks, frisking, shoes off, laptop and i phone in a tray, liquids (including Anusol) in a clear bag, until we were deemed safe to fly.
This was when the full impact of a heavy cold really hit home.
The AirCon on the flight made my symptoms ten times worse.
My mouth dried up and i couldn’t swallow, my nose was blocked so i couldn’t breath and i coughed continually for the duration of the flight, much to the annoyance of my fellow travellers.
Now i know this isn’t a major trauma. It didn’t require CPR, the captain didn’t ask if ‘There was a Doctor on board ?” but i did feel thoroughly miserable.
This got worse when we descended into Doha. I’d never had problems with my ears before though i was aware of it.
The pain was pretty intense and it ran down from behind my ears into my neck. It also caused a headache over my eye.
The worst bit though was the deafness. Once i landed It was like some one had forced a skiing sock in each ear. i just couldn’t hear a thing. It was very disorientating and totally confusing.
Once we were back in the air, there were a few Pops and Cracks and my hearing came back, only to go again when we landed at Bangkok.
When we booked the trip, a change at Bangkok looked reasonable.
Get off the Qatar flight, get on the Bangkok Air flight, what could be simpler.
However, anyone who has ever been to Bangkok airport will tell you, its big. I mean very big. Sprawling. It was now we realised the full extent of the task. We had to go through immigration, collect our bags and leave the airport arrivals and re-enter departures and all within 90 minutes.
We had landed at the farthest point to the right of the airport and the bags were at the farthest point to the left. There are moving walkways to help make the trip easier but it was still a hell of a journey, especially for a deaf bloke with a dodgy knee, a blocked up nose and a hacking cough. Embarrassing Bodies audition coming up.
This was probably the low point.
The girls were keen not to miss the flights so were running on ahead, leaving me with a back pack, a tow along suitcase, my coat (which kept falling on the floor) a copy of the Mail on Sunday, which i happily jettisoned and a feeling of failure. i would cause the girls to miss their flight.
As is often the case, things don’t work out as badly as expected and with the help of a nice uniformed lady who fast tracked us through immigration, we made it to the departure lounge (back at the far right hand side of the airport) with time to spare.
The lesson learnt in this is.
Always book a carrier that will get you and your baggage to the final destination without needing to reunite you en-route. Emirates does a flight from Heathrow to Koh Samui and you won’t have to go through the Iron Man challenge that we did.
Or, break the trip and have a few days in Bangkok before flying on to the islands which, given that the weather here is pouring with rain and will be till Christmas day, might have been the best call.
Samui airport is a really cute affair and even after the ordeal we’d been through, you can help but be charmed. We quickly retrieved our bags and made our way to the meeting point where our transport was waiting to take us on the 20 minute ride to our hotel, The Thai House beach resort at Lamai.
We stayed here two years ago (2013) for Christmas and New Year and had a great time so, given we only have 2 weeks we figured, go with what we know.