Trains, planes and countless miserable people.
25.01.2010 - 26.01.2010 3 °C
Passing swiftly through Newhaven Town, a place I grudgingly call home, on this bitterly cold, wet and miserable January morning, I begin to wonder how it could have taken me so long to finally break free. Hankering down against the wind and rain I hurriedly make my way towards the station. Thankfully the train arrives shortly after I get there and I quickly head onboard to avoid the misery of the English weather, only to be confronted by yet more misery inside. A sea of depressed faces staring solemnly at the ground beneath their feet in a desperate attempt to avoid eye contact with any person sitting close enough to engage conversation. Swathes of corporate types wearing drab suits and matching drab ties, bored with life, carrying suitcases in one hand and a copy of the Finacial Times in the other, endlessly tapping away at laptops and BlackBerrys, in the mistaken belief that this is all that life had to offer. The depressed silence on board is only ever punctuated by the endless repetition from the announcement "Welcome on board this Southern service to London Bridge, calling at..." which goes off with annoying frequency.
As the train moves on I stare absentmindedly out into the darkness, before suddenly realising I've inadvertantly been staring at another passenger in the window's reflection. They too are staring at me and I wonder whether they too were simply looking out into the darkness, or if they were in fact staring at me all along. Or the third and most likely possibility is that they weren't looking at me at all, that is until they noticed me staring at them and then started looking back wondering what the hell I was staring at. I quickly turn my attention elsewhere.
The train finally pulls up at Gatwick airport and I step out into the brisk morning air and make my way into the terminal. It is surprisingly quiet and I manage to avoid any queues. (Always the way when you've checked in online the night before to avoid them!) At the check in desk I'm confronted by a pitbul of a woman who throughout the entire check in manages to avoid cracking a single smile. She does however tell me that I may get refused entry into Thailand as I don't have an onward or return ticket within 30 days. She then tells me that I should change my return from July to February at a cost of 75 pounds. I politely decline and say that I will be happy to take my chances.
Heading through security I once again avoid any queues, although needing to remove my belt I foolishly step to one side so as not to hold up any other passengers. Only one woman passes and then proceeds to spend an age removing her coats (plural), fiddling with a belt that seems lost under countless layers of fat, and finally untwining the intricate web of laces which hold her knee high boots in place. At no point does she step aside to allow me to pass as I allowed her to moments before. Her sheer size also made it impossible to simply slip past and continue on my way. And despite all of this she still manages to set the alarms off! I too had a random search and after a slightly inappropriate grope by a slightly over-enthusiastic security agent I'm through to the departure lounge. Having spent some time saying goodbye to friends and collegues at check in I don't have long to wait and before I know it I'm on board, security announcement is in progress and flight EK12 is finally on its way.
I truly believe that travelling is more about the journey than the destination. Lao Tzu, a Chinese Philosopher once said “a good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving”. It is for this reason I have with me: 1 passport, 1 return ticket, a handful of baht, no set plans, and 6 months of endless opportunities.
And so the journey begins...