After wracking my poor little brains for a while, trying to figure out how to start telling about my Thailand trip, I had this startlingly innovative idea: begin at the beginning! So here we go...
My flight to Bangkok left on Tuesday, January 20 at about 11 a.m. I was kind of bummed that I'd miss the historic inauguration ceremony, but I needn't have worried—turns out there's this nifty invention called "radio" which we had in the car, so I got to hear a lot of announcers talking mindlessly to fill air time until the actual historic ceremony began. And it seemed they were particularly taken with reporting on how cold it was in D.C. and how many people were suffering from hypothermia and so on. J, who was driving, made the observation that those were probably the people from California who didn't know any better than to wear their flip-flops, as usual. I would have liked to protest, but the truth is, he was probably right. Still, I bet there would have been a lot less cases of hypothermia if people had figured out that another nifty invention called "television" makes it possible to watch historic ceremonies without leaving the (warm) comforts of home.
But I (shockingly, I know) digress.
We arrived at the airport without incident, which is always nice to report after a stint on the 110 freeway. But we hit our first snag at the check-in desk for Korean Air, when it turned out that one of our team had a passport set to expire in just under six months. Apparently this is a big no-no as far as Thai policy goes, so the airline refused to allow her on the plane. We tried to get them to change their minds, but in the end she had no choice but to go get a passport extension, which takes 24 hours to process, as it turned out. But there was nothing else to be done. The Korean Air staff were polite but firm. She would not be joining us on the flight over.
So that was that.
It was a bit of a downer of a way to start the trip off, but our team member had a good attitude about it—much better than I would have. After she left, with assurances that she would get the next available flight once she sorted out the passport situation, we finished checking in and walked up to a restaurant that had TVs broadcasting the inauguration. I was pleased that I didn't have to miss it after all! And I was even more pleased that I didn't get hypothermia.
Eventually it came time to board the plane. Our itinerary was to Seoul, then Bangkok. By my calculations, the Seoul leg of the flight took a whole lot of hours—enough to watch four movies in a row. Which, I might add, was more than the amount of movies I've watched the entire past year. (Yes, I know I need to get out more often.)
One of the movies I watched was Vicky Christina Barcelona.
I couldn't get over the fact that Javier Bardem could be so incredibly sexy as a Spanish painter, given his Oscar-winning turn as an incredibly unsexy psychopathic killer in last year's No Country for Old Men.
On a more amusing note, the Korean Air flight magazine had a profile on Javier which, due to an unfortunate typo, identified him as "one of the world's sexist men."
Well, maybe it's true. Who knows.
I also watched The Mummy III
(couldn't finish it, too lame), The Dark Knight
(which I had missed when it came out, and which I thought was way better than Batman Begins
, by like a trillion times), and one of my personal favorites, Chariots of Fire
, which only gets better every time I see it. (Fav quote: "I believe God made me for a purpose—for China. But he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.")
I could go on and on about the flight, and the food, and blah blah blah, but then this post would be about as long as the flight itself, and you'd probably fall asleep, if you haven't already. So I'll just skip ahead to when we finally arrived in Bangkok, at about 1 a.m. on Thursday, January 22. As we left the airport, I braced myself for the horrific humidity and heat that I remembered from my last visit to Thailand, but was pleasantly surprised. The air was warm, but not unbearable, and only a little muggy.
After a short wait, a van picked us up and we drove to our hotel, located in one of the red-light districts of the city. After checking in, we went up to our rooms. The one I was sharing with C (our team leader) was a great example of the "let's not match" school of interior decorating. It featured a deep-purple carpet, seafoam green walls, at least two different tile patterns in the bathroom, and a bright gold bedspread on the double bed. (That's right, I said "bed," not "beds." There was only one bed in the room, but both C and I were too tired to care at that point.)
As an added classy touch, there was a horizontal mirror on the wall next to the bed, which took up the full length of the wall. The way it was angled, if you wanted to actually see yourself in it, you had to crouch down in front of it or else stretch out on the bed.
I went to sleep that night trying not to take up more than my fair share of space on the bed, and trying even harder not to think about previous occupants of the room and their likely activities. At least,
I thought as I drifted into dreamland, I haven't seen any mutant cockroaches yet.
But then, it was only my first night back in Bangkok...