The ride to Auckland airport went well. Reasonably nice weather, good music and the fine company of my two closest friends, Carol the Awesome and Peter the Great. The only thing spoiling it was the fact that I had no idea if my plane tickets were real. This is the first time I’ve ever ordered plane tickets online, and I had great trepidation as to whether the durned things were actually real! Once I got checked in though, to my great relief the trip became a reality – I was off to Thailand!!
The checking in process seemed to go very fast, and as per tradition, I had forgotten to empty my water bottle and got hauled aside by Customs. ‘Twas a short trip indeed for that bottle. Who knows where it lives now.
The plane was smaller than what I’m used to, and there were several empty seats. I sat next to a wonderful young lady, Olivia from Cambridge, England, who will qualify as a doctor in 6 months from now. I had a window seat, so once again I was a goldfish-type, staring out the window as often as possible. My favorite part of all is looking at the shoreline of Australia. It never ceases to amaze me to look at the beginning, the very edge, of an island/continent. My other favorite bit is looking down on the clouds. Olivia and I decided that they definitely are made of cotton wool and candy floss. I always did enjoy looking at things from a scientific point of view.
I had definitely packed my inner blonde, who took over my body and spilled curry on my good shirt, then followed that styling little trick by tipping my apple juice/wine drink all over my trousers while gesticulating during the telling of a story. Can’t take me anywhere!! I had to mop it up with my socks, because naturally I couldn’t find a tissue anywhere in the denizens of my backpack. Must remember to wash them soon.
I only managed to get little snatches of sleep, each time being woken up by an air hostess handing me yet another meal or snack. Well played Malaysian Airlines, you certainly don’t let your passengers go hungry! I’m guessing the theory behind that practice is keeping our stomachs full and our heads dozy. A very subtle type of culinary crowd control.
We stopped over at Kuala Lumpur airport, where I stepped once more onto that marvelous driverless train that takes you – nay, zooms you – to another terminal, via a quick dash under the runway. It’s so Harry Potter. I love that!
Funny how you always have to walk to the furtherest gate in the very long international airports when your feet have swollen in the heat and you have a marvelous set of blisters arising from the new sandals you are trying out in the never-ending endeavor to find the perfect sandal. How does that always happen with such unavoidable consistency??
By the time we walked onto our plane, all of us were dragging ourselves like drugged zombies, and it was noticeable that there were no conversations to be heard at all. Just a bunch of travel-weary passengers crying internally “just let me get there!!!!”.
Finally at Bangkok, I was so tired I completely forgot the order of how things are done and went looking for my luggage before going through Customs. Blisters upon my blisters.
The taxi driver was waiting where he was supposed to, with my name on his piece of paper (dramatically misspelled yet thankfully recognizable) and off we set on the final leg of the journey to my very well hidden guesthouse by the Chao Phraya river in Chinatown. My driver didn’t speak much English, but he was a lovely cheerful fella and helped me with learning how to count in Thai. We went down many alleyways to my destination, each one narrower than the next, until finally I was actually holding my breath to help narrow the taxi and allow him to get through. Once again, a judicious application of scientific principles.
At last we arrived and I filled in forms, photocopied my passport and gave several autographs (first time I’d been asked all day) and I got into the dubious-looking lift and found my room. It only took fifteen swipes of the card and at last the door gave way and allowed me to enter. First in the order of things was a cold shower. It’s very hot here compared to just-emerging-from-winter New Zealand. I then discovered that the giant fan over the bed did indeed work, and that, to my great delight, the window actually opened! So many hotels I’ve experienced in the past seem to have a thing about their inhabitants breathing actual air that hasn’t been passed through a filthy air-conditioning unit first. I like this place! I then cracked open the duty-free liquor for the mandatory tipple of untaxed and usually far too expensive for me liquid delight, sat out on the lovely front porch surrounded by orchids and lulled myself into a stupor with my ukulele, then made my way toward my room.
Once I managed to extract myself from the largely one-sided and very much non-understandable conversation with the lovely elder lady at the front desk, I finally staggered back into my room and flopped onto my bed. Ouch! I really must learn not to do that without gingerly testing the hardness factor of the mattress first. But hey – it wasn’t a wee cattle-class airplane seat and I was able to unfurl from foetal position at long last, and it didn’t take long at all for all my internal lights to go out and comatose state to commence. Sawasdee kha Thailand, I am finally here!!!!!
Day One of Actually Being in Thailand
Blearily I came to this morning to the sounds of Bangkok life outside my window. After testing that the cold shower still worked, I discovered to my great delight that Riverside Guesthouse provides a carafe of cold water that is refillable down in the lobby to save plastic. Good for them! I’m now sitting up on the rooftop looking over the Chao Phraya river, watching boats and huge barges go by and listening to a gibbon. At least I think it’s a gibbon. It could be a bird that has been listening to a gibbon. I’m not sure, but it’s a lovely exotic sound. I’ve just spotted my first squirrel and am still looking to find my first gecko. I’ve had a lovely feed of fried rice and, most importantly, a coffee. Cofffeeeeee. There is music playing in the background that harks from the fifties, albeit sung in Thai. The motors of many boats trill upon the river. There is water dripping on the safety rail from an air conditioner above, splashing onto the seat beside me, and the ambience is completed by the jarring sounds of a building construction site right next door. Now I know I am in Asia.
Today’s delights include finding my way back through the intestine-like alleyways of Chinatown to the train station to pick up my ticket for tonight’s overnight journey Chiang Mai, then back to the guesthouse to pack and sit around a lot until I get on the train tonight. Signing out now for another cold shower – while I can.