The cheapest ticket I could find from Manila to Kathmandu went through Bangkok via Thai Airways. I had a 12 hour layover in the Suvarnabhumi Airport, a fine accomplishment of Thailand’s beloved previous king, Bhumibol. After arriving and going through the routine airport security, I searched for a quiet place to spend the night.
It was a large airport with several floors, not all of which were open to passengers nor were they all prime spots for an overnight snooze. The third level was where the information desk was and most of the shops and places to eat. My check-in counter was closed until 7 in the morning, so I would have to go back to find out which gate I had to go to to board the plane.
Having just been fed dinner aboard the 3 hour flight to Bangkok, I wasn’t hungry enough for dinner. I scouted a spot on the 2nd floor from the food court area where lots of people were sleeping, I walked through the trolleys, bags and bodies sprawled on benches until I crossed a small opening past a glass wall that stretched across the whole floor.
The lights were dimmer, the silence was greater, and the benches were almost empty. I wondered why the people in the last section didn’t venture out the extra 50 meters to sleep in this better spot. I found a corner all to myself, stuck 4 4-seater benches side by side and facing each other to make a large comfortable place to call my spot for the night. They probably left the benches mostly flat and without armrests for that purpose.
It was close to midnight and I was already falling asleep. It was uncomfortably cold, so I unpacked my sleeping bag and climbed in snugly on one end of the benches while I easily inflated my neck pillow. I slowly drifted to sleep with some relaxing and sluggish jazz music — something I got used to a long time ago. I made sure to set an alarm for 6:30am and set my sleep timer on so my phone wouldn’t keep playing music while I was deep in sleep.
Around 4 in the morning, I was shaken awake by what looked like a security guard that climbed back up on a Segway upon seeing me rouse. He told me this section of the airport was closing for cleaning in broken but understandable English. I got the message.
I hurriedly packed my things and moved to the less isolated sleeping area where others were idly chatting the hours away and curled up in their own bench-trains. I was half-asleep and glad to have quickly found a free spot for me to lock my bags to the benches and drift into my dreams once more.
I woke up in time for the transfer desk’s morning shift and found my gate on the far-end of the airport — about a 20 minute brisk walk away. I bought a barely edible chicken wrap from a local deli — I wasn’t in the mood for anything heavier than a sandwich — and scarfed down the sickly sweet mayonnaise-filled wrap.
This was my 2nd time to have a 12 hour layover in an airport, and in the name of cheaper flights, I had an uneventfully comfortable time to fill out my journal, read, sleep and eat. Now that I think about it, perhaps I’d rather have a 12 hour layover than just a 4 hour one.