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Monday 18 December 2017

A new experience - deportation

MONDAY: Here is a piece of essential travel advice: the only place you can get free wi-fi at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport is in the deportees' lounge.

Yup, the deportees' lounge.

What was I doing there? The official in charge had decided that my passport was damaged and not valid.

The fact I had a second passport was not regarded as important because I had filled in the immigration form using the number of my fatter passport (with more blank pages) and that act could not be undone.

At least I think that was what happened, because nobody told me. Before anyone asked me what I was doing with a damaged passport I was in the deportees' lounge and being told by a young police officer that I was on my way home.

So I got to sample another rich travel experience. One revelation was how polite everyone was in Bangkok, even to deportees, except for the female official who was mad as hell two hours later when I was escorted through immigration having solved the problem.

Apparently, I was a first. Nobody this lady had ever fingered for deportation had ended up being let through. It was an interesting insight into the world of immigration.

I learned what it is like to be an unwanted visitor at one of these borders and how it works.

TUESDAY: The Cabochon Hotel, my home here in Bangkok, is an exquisite boutique hotel. It has just eight rooms, tucked in an alley at Sukhumvit 45 and walking distance from most of the action.

It is managed by Mack Puddang, a graduate of Cathal Brugha Street who worked in the Alexander Hotel during his five-year stay in Dublin. The brainchild of designer Shaubai Yeh, it is an intricate construction with its own destination restaurant and bar, and 23 staff.

WEDNESDAY: A long day talking tourism and another party in a rooftop bar.

THURSDAY: Bangkok does great rooftop bars, the best in the world. The most famous is the one featured in Hangover 2, the Sirocco on top of Lebua. Tonight I am in a better one, 55, on top of the Centara Grand.

FRIDAY: Have you ever had a motorcycle taxi ride through Bangkok? It comes with a scare warning.

SATURDAY: The next big thing in Thailand? They want more women to come. Their inbound tourists used to be stacked 80-20 in favour of males over females, they have got it down to 60-40 and they think a big spa promotion will balance it out.

SUNDAY: The way things work in the travel-writing business is that airlines fly me in great comfort and tourist boards treat me well, in anticipation of coverage that they can generate as a result. It is an unwritten but well understood contract. They expect that the coverage will be honest. They don't anticipate that the coverage will be on Banged Up Abroad.

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