As much as the prospect of four back-to-back flights and 30 hours of non-stop travelling doesn’t fill me with joy, the prospect of a couple of weeks in terrific Thailand certainly does!
Unbeknown to us as we eagerly boarded our nearly empty flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, the very elusive phenomenon of comfort and space aboard an aircraft was to be a constant feature of our outward bound journey.
Soon enough we were on board our Qatar Airways flight to Doha and thanks to their very accommodating staff, had a three seat row to ourselves. Pure bliss on an eight hour flight! After a brief stopover and meeting up with our Cape Town friends in Doha, we were ready to board our third flight of the day, this time bound for Bangkok. Imagine our alarm when we wearily handed over our boarding passes for scanning and the screen before us began to flash “seating issue”, “seating issue”, “seating issue” in a constant stream of visual angst! Our dismay soon turned to disbelief and then elation as we were discretely informed that we had been upgraded to business class!
Well, those of you who have had the privilege of flying business class on a long-haul flight will know what I mean when I say that this is luxury with a capital L! White table cloths, crystal glasses and exceptional food and champagne is only the beginning.
The true luxury is to be found when it’s time to sleep. Soon, I was handed comfortable pyjamas to change into, an elegant Georgio Armani toilet bag filled with personal ‘necessities’ and a cosy comforter. And then the true magic happens, when with just a touch of a button one’s previously spacious seat transforms into a comfortable bed and one spends the night in horizontal heaven.
I now know the reason for the firmly drawn curtain that separates this luxury from economy class misery where passengers desperately try to fold their sleep-deprived bodies into spaces only suitable for a contortionist! I also now know how it is that the wealthy always seem to disembark looking serenely rested while the economy class passengers irritably bash their wheelie bags into each other while muttering under their collective breaths.
Am I resentful of the luxury enjoyed by others? No, definitely not … if they can afford it, good for them! But, I am eternally grateful to the travel gods (and Qatar Airways) for having given me this wonderful, unforgettable experience. I will never forget it!!!!!!
The fourth and final leg of our journey was back to economy with the no frills airline, Thai Smile. Nonetheless, it was a very comfortable short hop to Chiang Mai and we soon arrived at our hotel, the Bodhi Serene, happy and ready for adventure.
Next stop: Chiang Mai