While on my flight from Manila to Bangkok, I was able to get myself to sleep past my pre-trip anxiety, which has always bugged me in each big trip I’ve had. It’s like an anticipatory anxiety mixed with the thrill of adventure and fear of the unknown … more pronounced if I’m traveling solo. The only way I get rid of it is actually setting foot in my destination and shifting my mental thought process into the mode where my sleepless nights of itinerary planning is slowly being realized. When I woke up, the plane was already turning in circles, which means that it’s already preparing for landing.

Landing in Suvarnabhumi International Airport

Hovering over Bangkok, my anxiety quickly turned more into excitement. From the time of its grand opening, I had always looked forward to seeing the new Bangkok International Airport with my own eyes. Named Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok’s new modern international airport is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. Suvarnabhumi is pronounced as su-wa-na-poom in Thai. During my online research about Thailand, I found out that the English spelling of Thai words isn’t always equal to how its pronounced for a reason I have yet to figure out. If you are in some random street in Bangkok and want to ask where su-var-na-bhu-mi Airport is, most Thai people will not be of any help because they don’t understand where su-var-na-bhu-mi is … you should pronounce is as su-wa-na-poom. Even the word Bangkok, if you’re in the provinces not everyone knows where Bangkok is (especially the older generations) because they’re used to calling the Thai capital as Krung Thep.

Back to the airport, its terminal is actually the single biggest terminal building and its control tower, the tallest in the world with its architecture praised the world over for its beauty and innovation. It was actually quite a bummer that I never did get to see it by daytime because of the timing of Cebu Pacific’s flights. I’ve seen it in pictures and it looks really remarkable, an elegant mix of steel, glass, and beautiful garden landscaping.

Arrival Procedures in Suvarnabhumi International Airport

After boarding out of the plane, it was a very long walk to the immigration control counters passing through shops and glimpses of Thai history and culture through photographs printed on the walls of the concourses. I showed them my Arrival Immigrations Card (TM-6), filled out when I was still in the plane. As with my previous flights, I always made it a point to rush to the immigration counters after arrival to get ahead of the other passengers and save a lot of time from the long lines at the counters. I’ve also prepared my own ballpen and memorized my passport details (number, date of issuance, date of expiry) so I can finish the filling out the immigration documents faster.

It didn’t take a long time at the immigration counters, probably around 20 to 30 minutes. The immigration officers didn’t ask a lot of questions, which was reassuring. The next step is the baggage claim, where you can also have your money changed. As a general rule, always remember that the currency exchange in any airport isn’t very good, so I usually would just exchange enough money to get by transporting to the city center, where the exchange rates at money changers are much better. Since I planned on traveling overland to Cambodia after arrivals, I exchanged US$75 to Thai Baht.

Passed though Customs Checkpoint.

I had officially finished arrival procedures. First thing I did was to look for the tourism information desk to get free maps and brochures and ask for public transportation to my next destination: Silom. I got a handful of brochures and had my first conversation with an English speaking Thai (yey!). I also bought a AIS network prepaid sim card for my mobile phone so I can communicate with my friends in Bangkok and Cambodia. AIS has counters at the arrivals area and sells sim cards from 100++ baht. I had already activated the international roaming at my (Philippine) Smart sim card but I wanted to make sure that I don’t experience miscommunication problems.

My Bangkok Welcome Greeting at the Airport!

I actually planned to stay a few hours at the airport to take some pics but from where I was at (the arrivals area), there wasn’t much to take pictures at night time. There aren’t any pedestrian passageways to/from the airport either, so you can’t get a decent night shot of the whole terminal building or even just the control tower. While I was outside the airport trying to find interesting things to shoot, a Chinese guy approached me and asked if I spoke English.

I said yes and was consequently dazed in confusion at his over excitement. It became clear to me when he handed out his phone and requested me to talk to his Thai driver. In a slightly amused tone, I told him that “I’m not Thai” and slowly walked away. At that moment, I didn’t feel like such a foreigner (farang) knowing I can get away with people thinking that I was a local because of my Malay-race appearance.

After a few moments of letting the new environment sink in, I searched for the complimentary shuttle bus to the transport center, where I’m supposed to take the public bus to Silom.

Next post: Getting In and Out of Suvarnabhumi International Airport