Cebu Pacific did their 50% off on selected destinations which included Bangkok. It made so excited because my football team Chelsea FC was coming to South-east Asia for their Pre-season Asian Tour. The cities included were Malaysia (July 21), Thailand (July 24), and Hongkong (July 27 and 30). HK would have been a practical choice in terms of money but I didn't know anyone from that city and I was doing this trip on my own. Bangkok was more of a favorable choice for a lot of reasons despite having to stretch my budget a bit.
Firstly, about twenty of my college classmates (Go Go Avoue!) are currently working in Bangkok. Secondly, I have friends who are also Chelsea fans so this will not be a lonely visit. And thirdly, I didn't have to pay for a hotel since I was going to stay with a friend. However, it took me until the last day of the seat sale to decide and finally book that damn ticket. I was so worried about pocket money. How am I supposed to finance myself? Can I save enough money in three months? But as my good friend said, "When there is a seat sale. go make the plunge." Haha. I eventually followed his advice. Cha-ching. Happiness!
The problem with this ticket was that it leaves Clark International Airport. I had to book another flight to Manila and then traveled to Clark from there. Sounds like a lot, right?
But I had this to motivate me.
Weeks before I left the country, I had everything prepared. Money, Tickets, Backpack. The only thing that scared me were the immigration officials. Boy, did I hear a lot of stories. Since this was the first time I got to travel on my own, I really didn't know what to expect. With some research, my visit to Thailand will not require a visa. I will just need a valid passport with a validity of 6 months (mine will expire on April 2012), a return ticket, an address of residence (covered by my good friend Doyle) and some pocket money. But wait, there was more. My friends said that I need to have a letter of invitation. WHAT? I didn't have that. I had no time to prepare that document since I've only learned about it a week before I left. Another friend of mine was asked to submit one. Oh boy. Ever since I left Cebu the morning of July 23, that letter was the only thing I've thought about. However, I just had to be confident about my intent to travel. I also bought my company ID and COE (Certificate of Employment) for back-up. Surely, they wouldn't deny me just because I didn't have the letter.
The travel from Manila to Clark was a long one and I was panicking because I left Manila around 3 pm and my flight leaves at 830 pm. Turtle. The traffic in EDSA was horrendous. It took us more than hour before we finally arrive at the NLEX exit and another 2 hours+ before we arrived in Dau/Mabalacat Bus terminal at around 630 pm. Now, how to get to the airport. I asked around and there was this sorta shuttle-slash-aircon jeepney that offers a ride (500 php) to the airport for a minimum of 5-8 people. Since I was the only one traveling and I was in a hurry, I had to pay the entire amount. I did managed to bring it down to 400 and that was an achievement. haha. I do not believe I have haggling prowess.
Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (as per my itinerary receipt) was something I did not expect. It was still "under construction". It was small, like an ordinary provincial airport. I bet the new airports in Bacolod and Ilo-ilo looked way more decent. After I paid my dues (1600 travel tax, 600 for the airport fee), it was time to meet the immigration official. And I have to say this, he's so gwapo. (lol). I gave my documents. He did some checking and asked me these questions:
IO: Mga ilang days yung stay mo. (How many days are you going to be in Bangkok?)
Me: Two days. Babalik po ako sa 26th ng gabi. (I will be back on the evening of the 26th.)
IO: Ano ang reason nang pagpunta mo? (What is the reason of your travel?)
Me: Manonood po ng Chelsea FC. Meron kasi silang tour. [taray mode haha] (I'm gonna watch Chelsea FC. They are on tour)
Then he said, "Ok." Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.
HAPPINESS!!! A sigh of relief.
The 5-minute interview felt like forever. It wasn't so bad after all that worry. All is well that ends well I guess.
All I wanted was to board that plane and get some sleep. I was awake for like 12 hours+ because I had to work the previous night.
This airport just floored me about how amazingly good it looks. I was in awe on how different it was compare to our own in terms of its size and design. Everything about it was totally new to me and so beautiful. The queue for Passport Control was so organized. I was so impressed. (hayz, the noobness)
I'd rather not talked about the bad taxi driver that greeted me on my very first night in Bangkok because all the other taxi drivers that I had during my stay were awesome.
Next post, The Chelsea Day. :)