It was just a few weeks prior that I was raving about the freedom felt by escaping the United States. I was to spend a year at least using Thailand as a base to teach English and devise a way to sustain long term vagabonding.
So why am I 30,000 feet in the air over puffy white clouds on a flight to Indonesia?
I was forced out of Thailand, that’s why.
Forced may be a tad bit of a powerful word. Let’s say I was inconvenienced out of Thailand.
When I arrived at LAX airport eager to depart for my indefinite adventure, I figured Visa runs were always going to be happening.
I had asked around for advice on Thai Visas from fellow travelers and whether I should drop the money for a 60 days tourist Visa so I wouldn’t have anything to worry about for a couple months.
After a few opinions, I decided to forgo the 60 day Visa. I figured I would land and feel out Thailand for a month. Maybe after that I would know which area best suits my goal and my personality. Maybe after that I would hopscotch over the border quickly on a cheap bus.
That was the plan.
When I approached the ticket counter and presented the smiling attendant of EVA Air with my passport, she then told me something completely unexpected.
“You must have onward ticket“
Wait, need an onward ticket?
I was pretty sure in my research before the trip that I wasn’t required to have an onward ticket when entering Thailand. I went on travel forum and spoke to backpackers who had recently flown in as United States citizens. I asked expats who had been there for a while. The consensus was the same — there was no onward flight needed.
After a split second of being taken aback by what the attendant said, I quickly and confidently replied.
“Oh, it’s fine, I am taking a bus out of the country“
“I’m sorry, you must have it booked before you board”
“I do have a bus ticket across already for the 10th” I said.
“I’m sorry, you must have onward flight, no bus“
At that point I was confused.
Sure, I was telling a small lie when I assured her I had a bus ticket out of Thailand within the 30 day window, yet it shouldn’t matter what mode of transport I have across the border.
Time was ticking and I knew I had to get through security and have time for lunch since I hadn’t eaten the entire morning. She was repeating her statement and the line behind me was grumbling, so I decided to just book a cheap onward flight.
The attendant lead me into a side room behind the check-in area which was a little strange. It was an office with more employees at desks. Two other American fellows were at a computer I’m guessing being forced to do the same thing that I was.
“I’ve never had this happen before man” one looked up and said to me.
“Just found a flight on Skyscanner for $90, I’ll leave the site up”
Being on a budget mindset and having to book a literal last minute flight made a vein bulge in my forehead because I knew I was going to just have to take a pick of the cheap flight litter without actually meaning to go to that destination yet.
After they were done an older tiny Thai lady walked me to the computer.
“You book now. Fast, fast. Just get confirmation and print“
After browsing for only a few minutes she was back over my shoulder and pointing at the screen.
“Just book any flight, fast, fast.“
I took a deep breath and clenched my jaw. Airports are stressful enough and this was sapping my pre-adventure mojo.
I finally found the cheapest flight which was to Surabaya, Indonesia and I booked it. I printed the form and got through check in.
Something struck me as even more odd though.
When she verified my onward flight confirmation, she was shocked I didn’t book with EVA and even asked me why. Kinda’ fishy.
I waddled through security, and I was finally ready to depart.
Except that wasn’t the end of the unexpected onward flight.
While browsing through and the tiny Thai lady breathing down my neck, I failed to see that Tiger Airways pre-checks pretty much every freakin’ add-on and display them small enough to miss if you are rushing…
…which is exactly what happened.
Oh, thank you for being psychic and pre-checking that I had hockey or sports equipment to bring onboard! Except I don’t.
And thank you for making me order a meal on a 3 hour flight that will most likely taste like rubbish!
Aha, I did need to check my backpack when I preemptively knew I could carry it on instead!
Lastly, you are amazing that you knew I wanted to pay extra to board first! When I don’t give a damn when I board.
All tallied up, those pre-checked add ons added nearly 25% of my ticket cost or close to 1,000 baht.
I noticed this in my confirmation email once I had a moment to collect myself.
Of course it is ultimately my fault for missing those tiny boxes that no other airline I’ve been on has pre-checked whilst being rushed.
Now I know thatch these Southeast Asian airlines for every detail.
So after nearly a month traveling around Thailand to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Phi Phi islands, Krabi Town, and back to Bangkok I am leaving for a few weeks.
Originally I booked for Surabaya (I didn’t even know what that city was) for the 8th, but since plans sometimes change with those last minute forced ticket purchases, I had to change the date to the 11th (another $85).
Jakarta is also the new destination.
Derek of The HoliDaze blog has settled in and set up a base for himself in Indonesia and I figured I’d go kick it with him for a few weeks and have someone who knows the ropes show me around.
I will say I am quite excited to see Indonesia. Thailand is becoming better for me, and it definitely has to grow on you from my experience.
I’ve heard there is a bit less of a punch-in-the-face when it comes to the chaos and tourist centric overflow happening in some parts of Thailand. Other travelers said it’ll be a nice breather and a more prominent culture experience right from landing. We shall see!
With that, I don’t know a single thing about Indonesia so I have my headphones in practicing greets and phrases as I write this.
All the while, my laptop is dead.
If you’ve been on my social media pages, you would have read about my dear MacBook Pro dying of some unknown disease that even a techie couldn’t figure out. Even though I am headed to Indonesia, I’ll still be posting plenty about Thailand as I figure out a good method using my iPad.
You know me friends. I’m a stickler for design aesthetics and posting from apps is extremely restricting on photos and personal touches. But I will get caught up!
I’ve sent my laptop to the United States with a friend, to have another take it into Apple for repair. They’ll bring it to Thailand fixed for me when they come visit in January, and hopefully I’ll be back to posting regularly!
Cross your fingers for me.
Looking past the debacle of this last minute ticket, onward to another country and another adventure.
Saya mau kembali ke Indonesia!