Bangkok To Clark/Manila On Seair
As my trip in south east Asia is about to end, it was time for me to fly back to Manila. The rules for my round-the-world ticket require me to fly out from the same place that I flew into and Manila was my destination on October 31st on the way to Boracay. Coincidently, there are no direct Star Alliance flights between Manila and Australia, so I will actually be returning to Bangkok after spending a night couchsuring in Manila to catch another flight to Sydney on Friday. It would not be fun if it was easy, right?
Getting to Bangkok Airport
Leaving from the condo I was staying at on Sukhomvit 65, I walked in pouring rain to the BTS and after a few stops changed to MRT for a one-stop ride to Makkasan station. From there, it was a short walk to the Makkasan rail station where I caught the express train to the airport. The train station itself is pretty huge, resembling an airport terminal, but very, very empty. One way ticket on the express train set me back 90 baht/$3 and the train pulled in just as I walked up to the platform. A round trip ticket on express train cost 150 baht/$5 and must be used within two weeks. The trip to the airport from Makkasan station takes 13 minutes and 17 minutes from Phaya Thai station.
The train dropped me off at the basement level of the airport terminal while the check-in area is located on fourth floor. It turned out to be a major hassle to get up there as the travelator was blocked past the first floor for no apparent reason, forcing everyone to use the small elevator, easily shaving off 15 minutes of the time I would of otherwise spend at the lounge. Seair checkin was quick and simple. They did want to see my itinerary for the next stop and were ok with the info I showed them on TripIt. Unfortunately, all the seats in the exit row were already spoken for, but I was still able to grab a middle bulkhead seat.
With the boarding pass in hand I went through immigration and security theater where they did insist on taking shoes off just to discover that I had to endure on another trekking experience to get to my gate. Adding this to my previous experience of transiting through Bangkok on the way to Manila in October, BKK was quickly becoming my #2 least favorite airport after MNL itself.
Louis' Tavern Lounge (Gate G2)
For no apparent reason, Seair insisted on boarding one hour before departure time, which was exactly the time I finally made it to the gate. Because I did not have any food since breakfast, I was starving and decided to pop into the lounge to grab some food real quick before boarding. The lounge seemed spacious with two floors and very few people. There was a small putting green and a few board games available to kill the time, even some showers. I did not have time kill though, so I loaded up my plate with a dozen finger sandwiches, a few pastries and some fruit, chowed it all down, and went to board my flight.
The A319 aircraft used for the flight looked brand new and had all-economy configuration. The seats were surprisingly comfortable for a three hour flight, even though they did not have adjustable headrest. Food and beverage selection was offered for purchase during the flight, but I did not even bother to check the menu as I was no longer hungry. I killed the time by watching the last few episodes of the fifth season of Burn Notice and catching up on some news podcasts. Otherwise, the flight was uneventful, with a very smooth touchdown at Clark with the most exciting part being two grown up guys almost getting into a fist fight for who gets to get off the airplane first while trading insults all the way through customs.
Clark to Manila
Clark airport is actually located a fair distance north of Manila, about two hour drive with Manila traffic. While it would be cheaper to get to Dau bus terminal using a jeepney and then take a bus to Manila, I did not want to deal with that hassle to save just a couple bucks and purchased the Philtranco bus ticket for 400 pesos/$9.26 at a counter in the arrivals area. It was 8pm and the bus was supposed to leave at 8:30, but, as usual, they waited to get as many people as they could before finally leaving twenty minutes late. Once in Manila, I got off at Megamall and caught a taxi to Makati area where I was couchsurfing for the night.