Sunday, January 09, 2005

Bangkok

Bangkok is hot. And smelly. And totally not the place to get lost. And how do I know this? Well, uh, cuz I got lost. It was all my fault too. I'm totally following directions to the letter next time (you'd think I'd have internalized this lesson years ago, but clearly it still needs teaching).

So here's what happened: I was supposed to meet a friend from my class at a designated place at noon to go with her to a weekend market. My flight landed at 11, and I thought an hour was reasonable. Of course, that was assuming everything went smoothly, which was major overconfidence in Thai infrastructure, as it turns out. Bangkok airport is reminiscent of a very run-down LAX, which was quite a shock after the absolute dream of Hong Kong airport, which has to be the most beautiful and well-run airport I've ever been through, with its massive glass walls stretching up to arched ceilings in the manner of airplane hangars. I actually feel wistful. Anyway, that heaven is not Bangkok airport. I stood in line for customs for about half an hour. I opted to take a shuttle into the city in hopes of avoiding the long queue for taxis and thus getting there faster.

This was a very bad decision. First I was screwed out of an extra hundred baht (all of $2.50) because I was sold two tickets for no reason. Then this was pointed out to me publicly in front of the entire bus (there were no seats left and I was perched on a raised platform right behind the driver, facing back), causing a commotion with the ticket taker who discovered it, who I wish had simply ignored it; $2.50 is a small price to pay for avoiding that kind of embarrassment. Then I was dropped off by the bus driver near Siam Square (which, incidentally, was not where everyone else was going, so I got to manage the rest of this alone), which is near where I'm staying. I thought I'd just catch a taxi there and they'd take me to where I needed to go, which is a fine plan when the majority of taxi drivers know where the hell it is you're going. None that I spoke with did, so I ended up tramping around for about half an hour with my heavy-ass backpack in the hot sun, looking for street numbers, crossing the street (no small feat, you usually have to use stairs), crossing back, turning around, and generally being about as miserable as I can recall being in awhile. Knowing that this was my own fault was not consoling.

Thankfully I finally found where it was I was supposed to go, and spent the rest of the day lying out next to a pool, then going out for some good Thai food and mai tais that night to a place called Condoms and Cabbages. (Seriously. The place supports safe sex, and each of us got a condom when we paid the bill.) It was also very beautifully decorated, with lights hanging everywhere and up in the trees above us. A much nicer end to the day than I'd envisioned some hours earlier.

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