It's a nine hour flight from Melbourne to Bangkok
, and I hadn't quite mentally prepared myself for such a long journey. It wasn't bad though because I was on Thai airlines. They gave Emirates a run for their money. I think we've forgotten what service is in America. They feed you until you feel like you're gonna burst; I think I watched 4 movies; I drank until I couldn't stomach anymore--it was great. My plan was this: once I get on the ground I need to freshen up at the airport, find a locker and put my bag in it, then hit the streets. I would need to return to the aiport at about 4 in the morning to catch my 650 flight to Tokyo.
I got in a little earlier than expected at about 10 pm.
I freshened up at the airport, went through customs and found out that there are no lockers. Luckily my big backpack was checked all the way through to Tokyo, so I just had to carry the little one around with me. My first impression of Thailand: humid. I suppose I was getting aclimatized to the balmy Australian/NZ winter climate, so when I stepped outside the terminal, my body was like WTF? I appreciated the change, however, because I was tired of freezing all the time. I had to wait an hour for a bus to take me to the strip, and the bus ride is like another hour. I finally got off the bus at about midnight and the streets of Bangkok were just like I expected in my mind's eye: packed. It's hard to describe, but here is what I experienced: people selling everything you can think of (strange foods, alcohol, sex, etc.
Evidently there are no laws against piling people into these things...
..), stray animals, indescribable smells(good and bad), neon lights, men that could easily be mistaken for women, people grabbing you trying to get you to go wherever they are promoting, aggressive taxi drivers, tourists that look like they've been in Thailand for years, abject poverty, extreme wealth, and rain. Bangkok is bananas in pajamas. Not to say that I actually "experienced" it, but I did get a mini-taste and it was an interesting flavor. I need to go back for an extended stay. Seems like a lot of Europeans do this, but there weren't that many Americans from what I could tell. I met a guy named Walter from Germany. We had a drink and then parted ways. You know, it's very easy to meet people out on the road. When we're at home, however, we're so stuck in our particular routine that we meet people so much more infrequently.
The airport, huge and beautiful
I think I'm going to take the traveler mentality back with me, and start asking strangers what they're doing in America. I'll let you know how this goes.
I imagined that Bangkok was a place that never slept and that you could get anything you wanted 24 hours a day--not the case. At about 145 a.m. They stopped serving alcohol, and the shops started, well, closing up shop. This was really a shock to me because I had planned to stay out till about 4. I walked around until about 3 and by then, the place had become almost a ghost town. I jumped in a cab and rolled back to the airport. I tried to go to my gate so I could sleep, but they wouldn't let me, go to the gate that is. I did sleep, just somewhere else. I made my plane to Tokyo after what seemed like an over-thorough security screening and was off to Tokyo... By the way, I left some of the photos blurry because that's how my experience in Bangkok was: a big whirlwind of stuff, and then I was out. I hope it's not too distracting.
Dispatches from Tokyo will be forthcoming...