Bangkok airport, the ferret & the coconut

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Returning recently from a jaunt in Europe I was faced with a 12-hour stopover in Bangkok. Yes, it sounds like crap, and it was.

Hopping off the KLM tumbrel cart I had been strapped to for 13 hours, I slid through customs like a ghost - my head felt like someone had lined it with newspaper and replaced my brain with a ferret.

I had grand plans of hanging out at the airport. I figured that Suvarnabhumi in all its shiny newness must have something to entertain a weary wanderer for half a day. How wrong I was. My dreams of showers and cinemas, libraries and lounges were as false as the eyelashes of the local kathoey. My mother lives on the New South Wales South Coast and Moruya airport has more to offer than Bangkok's; at least you can feed the bloody kookaburra. There was nothing to do but drag my feet around, politely declining offers of luxury cabs. The place was a boring temple to international dullness.

My aimlessness soon turned to the feverish rage of the overtired; the clock seemed frozen, the Bangkok Post was devoid of the usual lurid Thai crime stories, and the security guards were getting irritating. Broken, I realised that my only hope was to get the hell away. First I wolfed down a bowl of spicy soup and a fresh coconut, which improved my outlook no end, then I headed to the taxis.

A smiling man from Issan was my saviour, and some 45 minutes later I was loafing about the marble floors of the MBK, one of the world's greatest small-business hives. Like a happy drone, I wandered about for hours, while around me the shopkeepers slurped soup. When the ferret in my head started to squeak I knew it was time to head back to the airport and check in. Early.

Related article: Thailand: a little something for everyone

When People's Alliance for Democracy protesters blockaded the airport for over a week in November 2008 , I was impressed I can tell you. I think I'd prefer a week at the dentist.