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How to Get Lost going to Don Muang Airport

image airportonmap.jpgI’m deviating a bit from normal topics today, because I’m getting ready for a trip overseas, and my mind isn’t much on construction. Small details here can sometimes be more daunting than you would think, for example the drive to the airport. Before having wheels it all seemed pretty easy, go by taxi or bus, some form of transportation where the driver actually knows where he is going.

Since getting my own vehicle, the batting average for getting lost on the way to the airport with only minutes to spare before the flight isn’t good. Several times I’ve took the coward’s way out, waving down a taxi driver and having him ‘lead me home’ so to say. Even then, one time we got lost after the taxi driver didn’t lead us far enough and veered off.

There are a couple of things I have noticed about Mrs. Dozer’s sense of direction, it isn’t very good. As I normally leave navigational duties up to her, it seemed like that was the most likely source of problem. I’ve had Mrs. Dozer and actually even Mrs. Dozer’s father navigate for me before and it normally turns out poorly. Because half of the time they know where they are going and half the time they don’t. The half of the time they don’t know, they are 100% sure that they do know (along of course with the half the time they really do know). Subsequently, it gets so bad that I override all navigational suggestions and insist on manning the map book myself, and if that doesn’t work getting out and asking people myself, only to find out that this time they indeed were right about the whole thing, and then of course the rejoinder is ‘why don’t you ever listen to me?’.

In preparation for this next journey to the airport Mrs. Dozer had a chance to talk to our neighbor, a Thai lady who on the side drives her car for hire sometimes. She said something rather startling when Mrs. Dozer told her that we normally take the expressway 7 to go to the airport. ‘Oh, you can’t get there from 7′. Well, I would think if you take 7 to Bangkok, you could then get to anywhere in Bangkok, but of course this is Thailand, so I shouldn’t be so sure.

On a calm day when we didn’t need to be at the airport in 2 hours (or anytime for that matter) I decided a test trip was in order, taking 7 to Bangkok. We had our map book and took 7 to 9, north on 9, 9 to 3312 and then in to the airport. This is a route that we had taken before, and now I that I examine it in the light of day, I could see the source of our problems.

Going this way, it isn’t so much that you can’t do it, but it is really a bad way to go. On the map it looks fine, but in reality once you get off the expressway 9 onto city streets you’re in no mans land. The road curves around like nobody’s business, there are no signs, and you need to come out on to 31 and make a u-turn which seems opposite the map readings. All the way to the airport this route there was only one sign saying airport, which was extremely small.

Another thing I noticed on the way, is that you need to know the location of cities and their relation to north and south. For example, when exiting 7 to get onto 9 you have a choice between routing forward to two different cities. Even if you’re clear that you want to go north on 9, all of a sudden you have a 50% chance of making a wrong turn.

The error in our ways was of course not taking 7 onwards to the illusive motorway, another navigational nightmare, but much easier than the city street road 3312. Once on the expressway you just need to hone into a few city markers and then go forward along those lines.

Some of this story in Thai here (just for fun): trip to airport hand written in Thai page 1 trip to airport hand written in Thai page 2

1 Comment

  1. Well, I didn’t have a map for a long time, and reading a map while driving is not so easy, and probably doesn’t help anyway – we are in Thailand, aren’t we ;) – so I need a more easy mind map to go to the airport: From the Rayong / Jomtien / Pattaya area you take the motorway to the tollway. This is the 7, I believe. There you pay 30 baht. Then all straight ahead, until you pay again 30 baht. Then all straight ahead, until you pay 25 baht. Continue straight ahead, until you pay 40 baht. Then the next possible exit turn left, but just to turn right immediately after. (Continuing left would bring you to the Sukhumvit exit.) After turning right the tollway gets down and joins the normal street. Stay on the rightmost lane. Then the tollway starts again, pay 20 baht. Now you can’t miss it, go straight ahead for a while, then you see the exits, first domestic, later International. Remembering it this way was easy for me, it is actually always straight ahead except this left-right turn after the 40 baht:

    30 baht – 30 baht – 25 baht – 40 baht -left-right- 20 baht – and there it is, the airport

    Not the same route you describe though, I will try that the next time!

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