herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Heat and mosquitoes keeps me on the hop in Bangkok

THURSDAY In Bangkok, suffering the heat and humidity, and something I ate has reacted. I have been shown waterfalls as tourist attractions that cascaded less than my back passage has in the past two days.

There is a flight to catch, however, from Bangkok to Udon Thani and I run a gauntlet of loos to get to the gate.

Dinner (I do not partake) is on a beautiful 11-cabin riverboat, the Mekong Sun. They gave us a foot massage on deck while the mosquitoes feasted. Hope they get a dose of Fa Ngum's revenge.

FRIDAY A hike up 1,500m at Phu Phrabat park and my shirt was sopping wet. It is spiritualism central, amazing rock formations with rock paintings, and Buddhist and Hindu shrines.

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of the letter that went to Laos by accident, instead of Laois, and turned up in Mountmellick a year later. Now I am about the cross the Mekong to lovely Laos.

SATURDAY Prices here are ridiculous. The dodgy DVDs are a quarter of the price they are in Bangkok. Here I am in Vientiane, a throwback to the Asia my wife, Ida, and myself found in the 1980s. There are no high-rise buildings. Instead, it's low rise: shambolic shops with motor scooters parked outside interspersed between airline offices and bank headquarters on the main streets.

SUNDAY My room, 409, has a perfect view over the playing field at the national stadium. When Vientiane gets to stage the Heineken Cup final, I know which room to book.

MONDAY Back to Bangkok airport, but there is a snag. The booking is made for a day later. They can get me in business class on the Abu Dhabi leg and waitlist me for the Dublin flight.

TUESDAY In Abu Dhabi, the layover is long but we get to use the first-class lounge which comes with extras: a dedicated chef service, a spa and splendid Shakshouka Arabic scrambled eggs for breakfast.

WEDNESDAY Flight EI592 to Madrid is a long walk and four level changes away from the Aer Lingus check-in down in 303 in the old Terminal 1.

I thought Aer Lingus had moved to T2? The flight is surprisingly empty.

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