Travel warnings can make things more exciting
I would say that I’m a careful traveller but definitely not an irresponsible traveller. I seek adventure but definitely not danger. Having said that, there is some fun in the anticipation of landing in a country when you’re not quite sure of what to expect.
I recently went to Bangkok in the middle of all the trouble. I had been following the events as they unfolded with great interest as its somewhere that I travel to a lot. The best thing was getting advice from people who are there, both friends and ex-pats based in Bangkok. My good friend told me that after the first ‘riot’ everything had calmed down and things were ok again. It didn’t appear so rosy when my travel agent called me on no less than 5 occasions to ask if I was still planning to go. Hmm, this is a dilemma indeedy. I didn’t really fancy the straight flight to Sydney as I’ve done it a few times and it kills me. Then the message that the FCO had issued a travel warning for the whole of Thailand. The whole of Thailand? Maybe a bit overboard I think.
So I took to the skies not knowing if things were going to escalate into a total mess whilst I was en route. There was a bit of fun in the fact that I was only one of 6 people who were planning on getting off at Bangkok. I felt quite excited to see what was going to happen. The best thing about being one of the few was that the airport was the emptiest I’ve ever seen it. I was off, cleared customs and out within 20 minutes. A new personal best and record for economy class flyer! The best sight awaited me at the taxi rank outside. Have a look at This Photo from Chris Osborne who also found no queue for a taxi as well.
So Bangkok. Sleepy. An uncomfortable quietness surrounded the drive in. I noticed that the Taxi driver had a photo of Taksin so I thought best to keep out of any conversation about the trouble. Yet again another record travel time through the city to the hotel and a few signs of burnt out cars on the streets. This is interesting. Seeing the army and police out in such force and visible on every street corner surrounding the backpacker area of Bangkok was a first. But also quite re-assuring. After meeting up with my friend, she tells me all about the trouble and that some of it happened just around the corner from where we were. At least she had a few days off work, she tells me. Then I found out that in the evening of the very same day, there was a national celebration outside the Grand Palace for the King’s 60th wedding anniversary. Would I like to go? Isn’t that a public gathering that all the travel warnings are talking about? Yes. But this will be different. Alright, let’s go!
Seeing such a huge gathering of people all wearing pink shirts to support the king was quite awe inspiring. There were illuminated streets, each serving traditional food and crafts from the numerous provinces. Its was a party atmosphere…with Elephants! We ate, we drank, we danced and we all had fun. At the end of the night we were all serenaded with four firework displays going off simultaneously and then a parade with Elephants. It was quite amazing and totally against the advice given to all foreigners. Because of that I only saw three foreigners there amount the thousands. I even lit candles and sent a Chinese lantern off into the sky with my own special message to someone. It was nice.
Had I listened to the travel advice and not gone anywhere in Bangkok I would have certainly missed a once in a lifetime event. It was special and I was lucky to have been there. Sometimes that little bit of excitement and danger just makes things so much better and more memorable.