Friday, 4th November 2011
After a comfortable night at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, all that remained was the long non-stop flight back to Heathrow and the road trip back home. Still in a lazy mood, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in my room before making another tour of the hotel and grounds. I completed my packing and made my way to reception at the agreed time for transfer to the airport. After 'goodbyes' to the staff, I boarded the hotel limousine for the journey back to the airport. Check-in and security were quickly performed, allowing me to make the long walk to the EVA Air lounge to await the inbound aircraft from Taipei. We boarded just a few minutes late on schedule and made an uneventful journey back to London Heathrow. A fairly lengthy walk took me to the immigration hall now operated by 'UK Borders'.
I now have a new-style 'Biometric' passport (the old one had become full with all my travels!) so, for the first time, I was able to use the new, automated passport checking facility. You lay the open passport on a reader whilst the picture from an adjacent camera is analysed automatically. A television screen showed a rather dim black and white view of what the camera could see. Looking at the screen, correct identification didn't seem very likely to me but, after a few seconds, the equipment was apparently satisfied and the gates opened to allow me through.
Another walk took me to the large baggage hall and I eventually managed to negotiate the hoardes of bewildered or irritated passengers to find the correct carousel where I spotted my checked-in bag already circulating. With some difficulty, I managed to insert myself through the mass of waiting passengers and heave the case from the moving belt.
A short walk through Customs brought me to the arrivals hall where I quickly spotted my driver. A crowded lift and another walk took us to the car park and, within a few minutes, we were on the way back to Brewood.
My journeys abroad always give me plenty to think about but this trip, in particular, has given me lots to ponder. Visits to five schools, three orphanages and the opening of a Free Clinic presented vivid images which will remain with me for a long time. As always, I think myself very privileged to have had these opportunities to learn more of our world and its people.