Patience Will Get Me Through
Let me start by explaining how I got myself in to this predicament in the first place. I was traveling around Asia and had just been on Koh Lanta for 10 days and it rained everyday so I decided to cut my losses and move on. I had paid for my room in advance so would lose 3 days but I had itchy feet. I jumped in a minibus to the capital of Krabi Province, Krabi City. I hadn’t been there before so would spend 3 days exploring before heading to Krabi airport for the next stage of my adventure. I had previously planned to sleep in the airport as my flight was at 08:00 am. I didn’t see the point in paying for a hotel room for a few hours which I was unlikely to sleep in any way.
On arrival at Krabi bus station I went straight to the cafe as I was feeling hungry, this would also give me time to plan. The food was amazing and very cheap, I had fried chicken with steamed rice. There was plenty of it and it was only 40 baht, I ate my meal before grabbing my phone to check on accommodation options. I was really impressed with my tourist 4G sim card from AIS, I hadn’t had a problem with it since arriving in Bangkok. I searched accommodation using Google maps and found a few hostels which were about 400 baht, I read the reviews and sent messages to a few to see if they had availability. Whilst waiting for the reply I kept looking and came across the Krabi Royal Hotel, now most websites including their own had rooms from 900 baht but Expedia had a room for 400 baht. I read the reviews, checked maps again to see if it was the same hotel and it seemed to be. So I booked 3 nights for 1200 baht total. I then went in search of a bus to take me there, of course I was immediately pounced on by an illegal taxi driver. I couldn’t locate the bus to get me into Krabi town, so I told the illegal taxi driver I was going to get a ‘Grab Car’. Grab Car is basically Uber over here, I checked the price and the driver said he would take me for the same price.
I arrived at the hotel in the pouring rain and headed inside, the staff were a bit confused about my Expedia booking and spoke almost no English. All we kept saying to each other was Expedia and after 5 minutes and one more Expedia the receptionist photocopied my passport and asked if I wanted a single bed, I replied any bed she giggled and gave me a room key. The room was immaculate a huge bed, fridge, TV, shower room and nicely decorated. I must say a bargain at 400 baht a night, I showered and as the rain had stopped I decided to walk into Krabi. I hadn’t any luggage so took the stairs and discovered the floor below me was being renovated, so that explains the price.
The walk into Krabi wasn’t far but in the heat it was difficult and I would find out later the local pickup bus service is only 20 baht. I spent a few hours exploring Krabi and dodging the rain. Krabi is an old town and isn’t what you would call a tourist resort but it has plenty to see include a temple close to the vogue shopping centre which is really a crappy market on 3 floors with a fake KFC in it, Worst food I have ever tasted. I spent a good 3 days in Krabi but now I’ve seen it I won’t be going back unless via the airport.
The hotel offered an airport transfer service at a supplement of course, I booked the minibus for 1pm which was the time I had to checkout. I went down to reception at 12:15 to hand my key back and sit in the lobby. Within minutes a driver appeared and said “we go now” I got the impression he might be picking someone up from the airport. The journey to the airport was a little further than I imagined so I was glad I had arranged a transfer. I arrived at Krabi airport at 1pm, 19 hours ahead of my flight. I have read online that it’s possible to sleep here although all the food stalls close overnight. Somehow I think 19 hours might be a different story, first I went to the coffee shop and had a bagel and latte followed by sitting in the cafe for 2 hours.
In those 2 hour I watched a John Oliver YouTube video on raisins, well scandals. I also observed the following, next to the cafe is a security gate, not a big one just a door size gap in the glass partition. You see in Krabi airport you have to put your bags through an x-ray machine before you check in and this partition keeps people out of that area, except there was no security guard manning this little station. People would go through the security with the x-ray machine, find out they were too early to check in and come to the cafe where I was sat using this gap in the partition. Of course when they had finished in the cafe they wandered back through the gap, other people were just wandering in and out all the time I was there. The last 30 minutes was fun to watch though as a security guard appeared and took his station, which is a chair behind a white melamine desk. The security guard gets out his phone and starts to scroll through Facebook, 15 minutes later he’s asleep! All the time people are wandering past a No Entry sign and a guard who’s asleep. I forced myself to stay in the cafe until 3pm and that way I only had 17 hours left, unfortunately at exactly 3pm I needed the loo so my luggage and I wedge ourselves into a cubicle.
Time for a wander, not easy with a 65 Ltr holdall but I wanted to scout the place out so I had a good idea of where I would be sleeping. I had read that arrivals was a quiet place at night so I headed down the escalator. Although the whole area is open there are a lot of places to bed down, including 2 new x-ray machines which aren’t in use. I have never slept in an x-ray machine before. There were a few more options, over to one side of arrivals are customer service desks which have been pushed back to the wall, behind one of those would be perfect. On the other side is a subway and a coffee canyon, opposite are the transfer companies and car hire. Along the middle of this area are lots of seats facing each other, I sat in one to try out and apart from worrying about my bags being stolen I had discovered another good place.
I then headed to the 4th floor which is actually the 3rd floor, this is because there are 3 buttons in the lift 1, 3 and 4 but the airport itself only has 3 floors. I was expecting a little more than this but there’s a cafe, toilets and airport offices. I called into the cafe for some food which as I type I regret ordering as it is extremely spicy. So spicy I can’t eat it, so a waste of money and my lips are still burning.
16 hours to go.
I got back in the lift with the wrong buttons and headed back down to the arrivals hall, it seemed the right thing to do. I found a support pillar over by a staff meeting room, I put my holdall against the wall and sat on the floor using it as a back rest. I managed to wedge my backpack between myself and the post and looped my arm through the straps, I then went to sleep for 40 minutes. It wasn’t the best sleep, what with the really loud announcements but it was okay. I woke up cold due to the airport air conditioning set to freezer mode, I retrieved my jacket from the bottom of my bag and put it on.
13 hours to go
I need a coffee, it’ll be my 3rd but I’m in a coffee mood, one thing I’ve learnt is check the price before ordering because coffee canyon latte is 80 baht and right next door at a counter which looks part of subway is Chao Doi and their latte is only 55 baht. Sat here I’m tempted to have a subway but will it be a similar experience to the fake KFC I had in Krabi?
12 hours to go
The arrivals hall is fairly quiet so I went over to the stored x-ray machines to plug-in my tablet and smart phone. I chatted with the cleaner she spoke surprisingly good English, she spends about 30 minutes sat on the x-ray machine belt before cleaning the toilets, once she has cleaned the toilets she comes back to the belt for another 30 minutes. I decide to go for another coffee but to my amazement everywhere is closed, it’s only 8pm and all the cafes are closed. I even ventured upstairs and apart from the Siam Souvenir kiosk the airport is already closing for the night.
I headed back down to the x-ray machines and the cleaner was finishing her shift so we said goodbye. Her colleague had another hour to go but when she was getting ready to finish she collected her bag and coat from behind a small information counter. Once she had left I looked around and if I squeezed in between the x-ray machine and a post I could lay down out of sight in the same place she stored her belongings. This worked a treat, it was a bit of a squeeze until I pushed the counter further out so my luggage could fit underneath and I could put my self inflating mat down and nod off. However it wasn’t going to be that easy as everywhere had closed it was time to start the building work. How could I be so unlucky, the taxi kiosk opposite the arrivals hall was having a new sign fitted which took until midnight to complete. Now maybe I could get some sleep?
I managed to sleep on and off I woke about every hour or so but I have learnt that the closer to the time you need to get up the longer you can sleep for. I suppose this is because you get more tired the longer you are restless. I woke at 03:30 am and I was wide awake, so just decided to get up, clean my teeth and have a wander around the airport. Upstairs was coming to life as a flight to Hong Kong was checking in, there was a huge queue at the security gate. I noticed Air Asia check in desks were still closed so went back down to arrivals.
1 hour to go
The airport is getting busier now but the cafes are still closed, I used the automated check in kiosk to get my boarding card but it failed to print my luggage label. I popped over to the Air Asia office which had just opened and spoke to a lovely young lady who told me to check in as normal. I had a little laugh inside when I arrived at the check-in desk because the weighing scales are more like those a butcher or fruit and veg shop, would use, my bag weighed 10kg but I had failed to put my bag through the x-ray machine. This is because the girl on the x-ray machine was asleep, I felt really bad waking her up. I was lucky though as a coach full, of Japanese tourists turned up and formed an orderly queue behind me. I checked my bag in and went to go through security, turns out they have an odd system but a very efficient one. They open security 2 hours before a flight and only the flights at that time can go through, everyone else had to wait. It turns out that this is because the departure lounge is small. Security was so simple, bag through another x-ray machine and off you go, no mucking about with laptops and phones in trays or taking half your clothes off. I was through in a matter of minutes and into the chair warehouse. The departure lounge is small compared to most places I’ve flown from but it is packed to the roof with seats. I think they do it so when you board the aircraft you think the leg room is bigger than it really is.
That was it I had managed to survive 19 hours in Krabi airport, I think I deserve a certificate or at least a sticker. I celebrated with a morning coffee which of course is more expensive in the departure lounge compared to the kiosks before security.
The flight from Krabi to Kuala Lumpur took just over an hour which seemed like 10 minutes compared time spent at Krabi airport. The aircraft was nearly empty so I moved to a window to admire the view. I was treated to food on board, well not food exactly more like a Mc Donald’s apple pie but with chicken in it well I think it was chicken.