Smoking is compulsory at Phuket Airport

Smoking is compulsory at Phuket Airport

I don’t know what day it is.

What I do know is that this is the first of my travel tales from Thailand and Myanmar, but the last 30 hours have become a blur, thanks to Singapore Airlines. Our travel plan was: Sydney, Singapore, Phuket, Khao Lak where we would be received into the Thai arms of the JW Marriott hotel – until Singapore Airlines cancelled our Singapore-Phuket leg. This meant we had to leave earlier to keep our knitting together. It also meant that our daylight flight in cattle class was now a night flight. After showing no regard for Fraser’s dread of nights sitting up among the cattle followed by a long dreary wait at Changi Airport, Michelle finally frightened Singapore into upgrading us to business class for the night flight (using our points, mind you) and providing a few hours of sleep in the Changi transit Ambassador Hotel.

Punishment awaited us. The 7 pm Singapore Airlines flight was in a soon-to-be-retired 777 which took off in what seemed angry regret at being disturbed. It roared and rattled for seven and a half hours while we attempted to work the ‘sleeper’ seat, a far cry from the lay-flat variety that are now the business class norm. These relics from the ancient world position the attempting sleeper at a 45-degree angle so that the body compacts towards the feet until the dwarf that you’ve become has to be stretched back into shape.

Arriving in Singapore at 2 am, 20 centimetres shorter than when we’d left Sydney, we found the Ambassador. It didn’t look like a hotel at all; more like a cosmetic concession with one crooning sales assistant in front of a blindingly bright wall.  We were allocated a room, with a wake-up call booked for 6.30 am in case we overslept.

This was my first time in a transit hotel. The room had no windows and was totally silent. Instead of a wardrobe there were three hooks on the wall. Obviously the transitors didn’t need drawers either. Two severely single beds greeted us. I worked out that these were to discourage sexual encounters between people who had made boastful claims during a flight.

Another oddity: the bathroom was vast. It was clearly designed to cover the needs of the disabled, with chrome railings and a shower seat. When Michelle took the first shower at 6 am we concluded that the concreter had been drunk the day this floor went in. The water ignored the drain beneath the shower and ran in a torrent under the shower door until it filled the floor bathroom to ankle depth.

Once dressed, we hastened outside to have our $10 coupon breakfast at Burger King. It comprised plastic faux scrambled egg, plastic faux meat patty, half an exhausted tomato and very fried potato testicles – but not before I had a noisy argument with the elderly, diminutive Chinese manager. She announced that I’d exceeded my ten-dollar breakfast allocation by 45 cents and therefore I had to have powdered milk instead of real milk.

The burgers might be better at Hungry Jacks but the breakfasts are worse at Burger King.

We now embedded at the JW Marriott in somewhat better circumstances.