Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vacation: The part I didn't tell you before I left. (Plus my opinion of AirAsia)

Well, I'm back home, and I had a wonderful vacation!  A lot of people (myself included) were a bit nervous about it, because I was travelling alone, but, in the end, I was glad that I did it.  I got to be an absolute introvert for 10 whole days.  I think I totalled maybe 10 hours of talking the whole trip.  It was wonderful.  It was also a little disconcerting, because I saw how easy it would be for me to retreat into myself and become a hermit, but I suppose that worse things have been known to happen.  Alone time was definitely needed, and I'm glad I got it.

So, here's the part I didn't advertise too much, for fear of freaking my world out more:

Just before I left, the U.S. sent out this huge warning about a "real and credible" terrorist threat in Bangkok.  But I knew that I wouldn't be there very long, and I stayed alert and up-to-date.  I snagged some photos of the guys involved too, and kept them  on my phone, like so:

This is a picture of the terrorist who was caught, after which they released a copy of his passport.  It was his capture that led to the attack actually being called off, but he was the only participant caught, the other culprit was at large... well for my whole vacation.

This is a sketch of the other terrorist.  I kept his picture on my phone to check out anyone acting weird around me.  But, as it turns out, Bangkok is absolutely massive, and it wasn't a problem at all.  I am still explosion-free.

In reality, what worried me more about my trip was all the mess with AirAsia, my airline.  It had been described to me as an Asian Southwest of sorts, but, let me tell you... Southwest, they are not.

It all started with me trying to book my tickets.  They apparently don't like American credit cards or Korean debit cards, so I went all out and got a Korean credit card, which worked... to book my first of three plane tickets.  The latter two, I ended up having to call to book.  The second one booked decently easily, minus having to sit on hold forever.  But the third one... oh the third one.  I spelled my name three times for the guy, and he still ended up book my ticket under the name:
"Ms. N Royster"
N?  Who names their child N?  That's right No one. By the time he realized the mistake (while entering my email address) he apparently had lost the ability to scroll up on the page and fix it, so then he went on about how I needed to call this other department and jump through all their hoops to fix it.  I firmly told him that he would be the one having to waste the time on that, since he was the one who ignored my spelling.  After some arguing back and forth, he eventually agreed to look into and call me back.  However, it was not him who called me back, it was a woman who informed me that "We made this mistake, yes, but YOU'RE going to have to fix it."  She also told me there would be a name change fee involved.  Let me tell you, my firm tone had some volume behind it for that one.  I paid no name change fee, although I was denied the discount I asked for.

In general, AirAsia was just a hassle.  The seats were tiny with no leg room.  The flight times were obscure, meaning I had to spend a night near the airport, effectively making up for the difference in cost between them and the next cheapest flight.  The flight attendants and desk workers were generally rude, although there was one guy - Harry - who was delightful.  The baggage scale in Surat Thani was, I'm pretty sure, rigged, as it weighed my EMPTY BAG in at 10 kg.  They nickel and dimed you for everything.  All in all, I felt like my booking on their flights was just seen as a huge inconvenience for them and they'd rather I booked elsewhere, which I will be doing next time.  In fact, next to my flight, every time was an airline called Nok Air, which is a domestic Thai airline, running the same routes as AirAsia within Thailand.  I haven't looked into their prices or anything, but your luggage flies free with them, and their attendants were very helpful.  I will definitely be looking into them, should I return to Thailand.
The Nok Air flight that left shortly before my own.
Sorry, these were tidbits I had to get out.  I promise I'll have much more interesting things in the following posts!

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