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Travellers ALWAYS forget this- do you?

The Gilli Islands Horse and Cart

It’s all about the journey not the destination, man…

You’ve heard the cliché about it not being about the destination but the journey right? As a metaphor it probably has some merit. Funnily enough, the one time it really doesn’t fit is when you apply it literally.

When you go on a trip, the journey itself sucks. Give me the destination i.e. a tropical hideaway, over a journey of 12 hours on a 747 ANY day of the week. I’m sure I’m not alone.

So, how do we get round this? How do we reduce the tedium of travelling and make the journey less of a chore?
 

A new approach of getting from A to B

This week we returned home after nearly four months in SE Asia and for the trip back we decided to try a different strategy. We were tired of the usual routine of getting from a to b (‘a’ being ‘airport’ and ‘b’ standing for ‘bed’!)

The plan was to make the travelling less like a ‘journey’ and more like an ‘experience’ by spreading it out; over 3 countries and 7 days as it turned out (although we suspected this could have been overkill in testing our theory). We began our return from our furthest point on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, being hauled along a dusty track by a weary nag hitched to a rickety cart. Dollar for kilometre this is one of the most expensive legs of the trip! Although it certainly didn’t look like the skinny specimen of a horse was seeing much benefit.
 

Amari Watergate, Bangkok

Too short respite at the Amari Watergate, Bangkok

We paused in Bali for a couple of days before resuming our journey, this time with a fleeting overnight stop in Bangkok. As it turns out one night was not enough, not only in terms of the hassle of getting from the airport and back with not much more than 12 hours in between, but also because it would have been nice to enjoy the great hotel we had lined up for a little longer.

We stayed on the ‘executive floor’ of the Amari Watergate Hotel. We were highly relieved to find easily accessed, quick, free wifi (especially after the snails pace connection speeds in Bali). The Amari ticks a lot of boxes for business travel but even as a tourist the sunset complimentary drink and luxury snack buffet is a luxurious plus. Having stayed in upwards of 15 hotels on this trip customer service has gained surprising prominence for us. Genuinely welcoming, helpful and warm staff are a bit of a rarity so it was a pleasant surprise to be taken care of so well- even the poor guy operating our lift at 6am managed a cheery smile despite coming to the end of what was no doubt a long and tiring night shift!

 

Amari Watergate Executive Lounge

You can mix work and pleasure!

After a leisurely cocktail or two admiring the Bangkok skyline and sampling the array of fancy hors d’oeves we ventured out to explore the area. We hadn’t stayed in this part of Bangkok before and were really impressed with how modern and clean this city is. It also retains its essential character with street kitchens serving hordes of hungry customers perched at plastic tables. These are packed onto slivers of pavement with the washing up being efficiently handled via a plastic tub at the kerb. I have to say, this area of Bangkok does have to be commended for its tasteful Christmas decorations. No tacky plastic Santas here, just artistically crafted reindeers made out of cool blue lights, nestled incongruously between towering palm trees.
 

Dubai Desert Camel

A jaunt through the desert

After another night without enough sleep, numerous airport based inefficiencies, lengthy queues, unsmiling immigration officers and disappointing in flight meals (why does the vegetarian option always have to be vegan for goodness sake?!) we arrived in Dubai. By this stage the ‘break up the journey’ plan was wearing a little thin, but a decent 3 day stay soothed some of the aggravation. We packed a huge amount in to our time there from visiting a mosque (fascinating insights into the Muslim faith); spending an afternoon at a water park (and being sucked at high velocity down a ginormous funnel); parading round on a camel (and despite my best efforts at maintaining a dignified demeanour in a nation which values modesty and self discipline, managing to uncontrollably screech a shocking range of expletives at the unexpectedly abrupt dismount); watching in stunned incomprehension as a performer spent 15 minutes twirling manically as he juggled flowered baskets and removed layers of embroidered skirts, some of which lit up like a Christmas tree on speed; taking in the awesome views from the tallest building in the world and witnessing the tranquil beauty of a desert sunset while perched on a sand dune.
 

So, was it worth it?

I would definitely recommend breaking up the journey as a perfect means of squeezing a little more ‘experience’ out of your trip. However, I’d definitely say more than ONE stopover is one too many, unless you can dedicate enough time that it becomes a destination in itself.

 

The Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok sponsored our overnight stay. The review is a genuine reflection of our opinions- if we hadn’t liked the hotel we would have said so!

Amari Watergate Bangkok, 847 Petchburi Road, Bangkok 10400, Tel: +66 (0) 2653 9000, www.amari.com/watergate

 

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