I had booked my departure for Dec 13th thinking I would get my Canon 7D by then (I paid for it on November 25th). I waited and waited and as the week before the flight neared its end, I started to get worried. It hadn’t even arrived by Friday, Dec 11. I was contemplating postponing my flight but that would have cost me thousands of rupees with last minute cancellations and new bookings — and as mentioned earlier, I wanted to be back in time for Sunburn in Goa.
So I decided to go ahead with my trip — and pick up a second Canon 7D from Bangkok which I would then sell upon return. I finished my work and only left office at 10:30pm that day. The next morning (Sat, Dec 12th), the first thing I had to do was to get foreign currency. I went to the HDFC Bank close to my house only to be told they wouldn’t be issuing any foreign currency because it was a Saturday and the foreign markets are closed (they also said they can’t give dollars based on Friday’s rates). It was one of those “Oh crap!” moments — until they told me I could try UAE Exchange close by. Fortunately, they were open for business (guessing maybe because they were headquartered in Abu Dhabi. Edit: Wow, I didn’t know the company is owned by a Shetty). I withdrew Rs. 60,000 from my account and got it exchanged for 10,000 Thai Baht, $200 in Traveller’s Cheques and $700 in cash. I planned on carrying so much cash as I needed to buy a wide angle lens from Bangkok.
The thing is, UAE Exchange sold me the Thai Baht at a rate of 1.6:1 rupee when it was 1.3, citing that it was “high demand” currency. I really couldn’t argue because, a) first time dealing with foreign currency and b) I really didn’t have much time.
After I got my currency, I went back home and started to pack. I actually didn’t have much to pack. I wanted to travel light and I knew I would be shopping from Thailand. I was advised by colleagues at work to check out bags from Wildcraft as it would be convenient to have just one big bag instead of carrying several. But when I checked them out, I really didn’t feel like spending Rs. 2500 to Rs. 3000 for what were in my eyes, branded hollow sacks.
So I just went back and decided to take my laptop bag and a sports bag borrowed from my younger brother. I finished packing and made sure I had all my papers in order. I had multiple copies of my flight ticket, copies of my Passport and a Tourist Visa form I downloaded off the Thailand Embassy of Foreign Affairs. Instead of taking a taxi or asking my brother to drop me at the airport, I thought I’d take the airport bus (the ‘Vaayu Vajras’) as I had always wanted to check them out.
My brother checked the routes and we decided to drive down to HSR Layout and catch the bus from there. I boarded the bus in front of BDA complex at around 8pm. The ticket fare was Rs. 150. My flight was scheduled for 12:30am and I was told the journey would take 1 and 1/2 hours. It took 2 hours. It was my first time going to the new Bangalore International Airport in Devanahalli and my lord — is it FAR! The roads to the airport was great but it felt weird sitting in the bus on what seemed like forever to get to a flight which would take me to a different country in just under 4 hours.
I checked in, finished all the procedures [Tip: Don't bother carrying a bottle of water to the airport (unless you finish it by then), you'll be asked to dump it at the security check-in], walked around and arrived at the boarding gate by 11pm.
My impressions on the new airport?
Meh. After all the delays and the amount of money spent, it really is just a glossy industrial shed. I do wish the HAL Airport is re-opened for at least short domestic flights. Anyway, I checked out the Duty Free, which was okay if you wanted to buy booze — and not much else. Checked out the food court, the restroom (it was clean, in case you wanted to know) and then just sat there. I switched on my laptop and logged in to the free BIAL Wi-Fi service, which took a while to figure out how to get connected. But hey, it’s free for an hours use.
Come 12am, it was time to board. I got in and headed to my window seat only to find some moron already sitting in my seat. I tell him that’s my seat and he points to his and says in his broken English to sit there instead. And then I tell the moron to get up. He mumbles something about it being ‘the same thing no matter where I sat’. (Gawd I hate such people)
The in-flight food was okay. Steamed basmati rice with nice boneless chicken curry and the usual sides you get in an economy class flight on an Asian flight route. The service was good, not that I requested it often. They had ‘Post Grad‘ as the in-flight movie. Looked like some chick-flick starring that Gilmore Girl. I didn’t bother watching it because I was busy reading through the manual for my newly-acquired Nokia E72, which I planned to use in Thailand.
I didn’t sleep much either. I mean, after lunch and dinner, you’re already half-way through your journey. I was scheduled to land in Bangkok at around 5am.
Other posts in this series: