Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Thailand protests: Home at last

Photo: Martin Harris on horseback
Martin Harris is a keen horse rider
Flights have resumed at Bangkok's international airport following the end of a week-long blockade by anti-government protesters.

BBC News has heard from hundreds of people who have been caught up in the protests.

Martin Harris, 54, is a communications engineer from Bristol. Here he describes his long journey back to the UK after travelling around south-east Asia for 11 weeks.


The last few days were frustrating. People in Bangkok didn't know what was happening, and that meant getting information was difficult.

BA wasn't answering the phone - there was just a recorded message which wasn't very helpful - and the British Embassy wasn't answering calls. There was no support.

However, I had managed to reschedule my flight. I was supposed to be flying out of Bangkok. Now I was due to fly to Heathrow from Changi Airport, in Singapore, on the third. So I had to make arrangements to get there.

It was just by chance when I was in a travel agents that I met a Canadian man, Darren, who was trying to book a private car to the Thai/Malaysia border.

We decided to share the cab, and left together for Hat Yai, which is about 50km from the border, at 1945 that night.

The Jeep's shock absorbers weren't great and we were sitting on solid seats so it wasn't particularly comfortable, but I managed to get a few hours' sleep anyway.

Since it was dark we couldn't see much of the countryside but I got on well with Darren, who was a former ice-hockey player. We chatted, which passed the time in between sleeping.


We arrived at Hat Yai in the morning - the journey cost 10,000 Thai baht, which is just less than 200.

Anti-government protesters' banner. Photo: Martin Harris
Anti-government protesters' banner
So, the next part was to find transport to Singapore. The taxi driver took us to a coach company where we managed to get the last two seats on a bus to Kuala Lumpur.

That cost 800 baht, or about 15, and took around 10 hours. The journey was very good actually because it was a VIP bus so it had air-conditioning, plenty of leg-room, reclining seats, and they served free drinks.

In fact, I'd rather spend 10 hours on that sort of bus in Malaysia than two hours on a British one back home.

The coach arrived in the centre of Kuala Lumpur at 2030 and I booked a room at the Swiss Garden Hotel.

Darren and I went out for a few beers and a Chinese meal. Then, as I hadn't really slept properly for a while, I went to bed.


As soon as I got up I logged on to the internet as I still had to get to Singapore in time for my flight back home. Darren was making his own way back home.

Again, I think I got one of the last seats available. It was on the 1430 SilkAir (COR) flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

I was sitting right at the back which I don't really like, but at least I was on the plane.

After 50 minutes we landed in Singapore so I had plenty of time before the 2300 flight to Heathrow.

There was excellent organisation at the airport and free bus trips had been arranged to take us into town.

So I travelled in to change some money and have something to eat before heading back to the airport ready for the flight home.

Luckily when I booked the flight 11 months ago I decided to treat myself and fly business class - and never has that been more welcome.

When my flight was called I was feeling quite relaxed, sipping champagne in the lounge, and then I slept for about eight hours.


Back in the UK. Almost home, but at Heathrow I had to wait for a few hours for my coach back to Bristol.

The journey was slow along the M4 with traffic for much of the way, but I eventually got home at 1000.

I have been travelling for almost three months but those extra three days at the end can make quite a bit of difference to the trip.

Despite all this at the end, it won't stop me from going back.

Map of Martin Harris' journey

Print Sponsor

Bangkok airport resumes operation
05 Dec 08 |  Asia-Pacific
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03 Dec 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Bangkok protests
02 Dec 08 |  Asia-Pacific

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