Finding your way around a foreign country is not easy, and I can relate... Here's my story of my first trip to Bangkok:
The moment I get off the train in Bangkok, I see with relief the Park Plaza Hotel sign protrude above rows of houses. I take off my jacket, still cold from the train’s air-conditioning but outside on the platform it is terribly hot. In no time, I am sweating like a sheep in a sauna.
Alone and uncertain
Quickly, I walk towards the exit pulling my suitcase For a moment I search for the young girl who was sitting next to me on the train. She was travelling for the first time, alone and uncertain about where to go. I see her standing just beyond the exit gates, looking unsure but not panicking. We wave at each other and each walk in separate directions.behind me.
The hotel does not seem far away, so I decide to walk. On the bustling street I make my way between people, food carts, motorbike taxis and tuk-tuks. Bangkok is busy, colorful, and noisy, with smells penetrating my nose. After a long flight I wanted to acclimatize. But a city like Bangkok does not allow you to do so that quickly. I keep walking.
Best way to burn fat
How to burn fat without exercising? Easy. By hurrying while trying to find your hotel in Bangkok, dragging a suitcase behind you. (I desperately want to check-in and quickly freshen up before the sales meeting begins.) I turn right onto a street and locate that Park Plaza Hotel sign, finding myself walking alone through wasteland (likely once a basketball court), towards the hotel.
No taxi, madam?
After about 20 minutes that felt more like eternity, I enter with relief into the serene courtyard of the hotel. The doorman looks at me with his mouth open in shock, and stammers something like: "No Taxi, madam?!"
Sounds like arriving at the hotel on one’s own two feet is not the norm.
With kindness, I am eagerly welcomed at the hotel. I get offered a seat and something to drink while my luggage is loaded on a cart. An enthusiastic hotel receptionist starts typing away at the check-in desk.
I give her my name, company name and wait quietly. In the corner of my eye, I catch a look of concern and hear some nervous whisper. More emphasis is placed on typing and I am viewed suspiciously. The porter standing with my luggage at the elevator lets out a theatrical sigh. He brings my luggage to the entrance and puts my suitcase back outside on the sidewalk.
The dreaded question
“Do you have a reservation?” I am asked carefully by the receptionist.
“Yes,” I answer, quickly grabbing my phone to show the confirmation.
She squeezes one eye and takes a step back. Her lips move while she reads the text of the email. I hear her read the text very softly. Then she grabs me by the elbow and with a big smile on her face while explaining something in Thai with the doorman, I am escorted back out of the hotel.
Confused, I look over my shoulder at the hotel receptionist and she nods at me, still smiling. The doors slide shut. With my nose pressed against the glass, I stare longingly at the cool inviting space on the other side, while hoping the young girl I met on the train is having better luck.
"Taxi madam?" asks the doorman.
“I call taxi for you," he decides, before I can respond.
When it arrives, I reluctantly get in. My suitcase is thrown onto the front seat next to the driver. The doorman shouts at the cab driver and slams the door shut. The driver looks at me with a blank face and starts his car.
(Bangkok has two Park Plaza Hotels, with a 10-minute walk apart from each other. I walked into the wrong one.)
Marjolein Ekkelboom worked at MPS as Global Marketing Manager