On Friday evening (15th March 2019) I decided I fancied a trip to Vietnam that weekend. I discovered that, as an American, I required a visa for entry, so I visited iVisa, input my information, selected the 'Visa on Arrival' option (I didn't have time for the eVisa), paid for 3-hour expedited processing and then I crossed my fingers and waited.
In the meantime, I presumptuously scheduled the next three business days off from work, rearranged Monday and Tuesday's conference calls, organised coverage for the meetings I couldn't change and activated my email out of office reply.
It ended up taking more than 3-hours, but my Vietnamese visa was approved at 4:16am on Saturday. I awoke at 5:30am, texted my friend in Bangkok to confirm that he was around/free on Sunday, booked my flight to Ho Chi Minh City (with a long layover in Bangkok), packed and headed to an internet cafe to print off my Vietnamese visa. Unluckily, the printer at the shop was out of order, so I grabbed a cab and headed to London Heathrow. Printing would have to wait until Thailand.
I boarded the 11.5-hour Thai Airways flight around 11am and was in the air at 11:53am. By 1:30pm, I was wearing my seat mate's whole glass of white wine. She acknowledged that she spilled on me by saying 'oh, it's only a little bit.' It was not. She then gathered up her and her travel companion's extra napkins and used them to clean up the few droplets on her tray. Meanwhile, a puddle of wine pooled at the back of my seat. As I rang for the flight attendant, to ask for something to wipe up the mess with, I heard the lady next to me's friend say 'you don't owe her an apology!'
The fun didn't stop there, people. My neighbor proceeded to fidget the entire flight, elbowing me endlessly as she repositioned her belongings, put on/took off compression socks, dug snacks out of her bag and blew up her giant neck pillow (which wasn't all that dissimilar to this cat scratching post bed). At one point she opened a broadstreet newspaper, to its full width, to catch up on current events.
Suffice to say, yet again, I was not seated next to my soul mate. When we landed at 6:30am, I was not disappointed when we went our separate ways.
Getting off the plane, through immigration/customs and securing a taxi all went quite smoothly. I showed up on the doorstep of my friend's flat at 7:30am, ready for some Paddy's Day drinking, only to be informed of a 24-hour nationwide ban on alcohol (from 6pm Saturday to 6pm Sunday) ahead of the national election. No restaurant, bar nor hotel was allowed to sell alcohol without the risk of imprisonment and/or fines.
Nevermind that! We smuggled in our own vodka, in a Swell bottle.
Since I woke everyone up at the crack of dawn and I only had 8 hours in Bangkok, we headed out on the town straight away. We arrived at Bangkok's newest mall, ICONSIAM, at 9:50am and loitered until they opened the doors at 10am. Super keen!
We had a few refreshing beverages at a restaurant overlooking the river while we waiting for the brunch place to open (at noon).
After morning cocktails, we headed to The Sukhothai Hotel for an extravagant brunch at Restaurant Colonnade. Whilst gazing out at the serene Chedi pond and listening to live jazz, I dined on endless lobster, king crab, oysters and sashimi.
The hotel staff was kind enough to print my visa for me before we hit the road and my friends dropped me off back at the airport.
Next stop: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (just as the alcohol ban was lifted)!