After a total of 28 ½ hours, 4 descent movies, 2 unknown Asian movies, 3 mediocre meals and many, many Bloody Mary's we finally landed in Bangkok at 11pm local time. With all the time changes the body does not know what the hell is going on. Too jacked-up and can’t sleep, so I am writing. We cruised through Customs which was a non-event. The stamp heard around the world was nothing short of a library book being checked out. Thump. "Thank you, Sa-wah Di Kah - welcome to Thailand". I waited for a bigger event to ensue. What, no balloons, no confetti, no news interview? The only person who congratulated me on my first passport stamp was Brian – God love him.
Now, what no one tells you about (and what you get use to over time) is the circus that awaits you upon exiting customs and baggage: the room full of taxi drivers, tour guides and Hotel pushers. Picture the “Day after Christmas Sale” in the shoe department at Macy’s, only in reverse and with little foreign men shaking pamphlets at you and grabbing at any lose clothing, luggage strap or free appendage you have. There is no escape for the tall, the pale and the blond.
Bypassing the aggressive taxi services that promise you "the best deal", we opted for the taxi line. For a 30 foot long line, it moved surprisingly fast. The comic nature of our next hour and a half cannot even be put into words. “Bangkok Rama Place” I said in my clearest slowest English.
“Where is this Bangkok Llama Place?” he asked. (It’s Rama, not Llama mind you)..
Heck if I knew. Heck if Brian knew.
The only cabbie in Bangkok that did not know where our Hotel was, and we got him. Not only him, but no one knew. Not the other cabbies he pulled over to ask, not the noodle vendors or the noodle eaters, not the security guard or the guy at the motorcycle rental stand…. Not even the gas station attendant he asked when we pulled to re-fuel. No one had ever heard of “Bangkok Llama Place” - we drove for so long , we had to stop for gas. Brian leaned over to me and whispered, “I wonder if the fact that they are pronouncing 'Rama’ like ‘Llama’ is the problem”. We both laughed, maybe to shield our obvious anxiety with the situation.
What should have been a 20 minute ride from the airport to the hotel turned into an epic journey; a two hour game of Ask-The-Local. Groups gathered around our reservation and debated over the accuracy of the given address. Maps were brought out and phone calls were made, but to no avail; we were still sitting in our Cab at 2:00am. Every time we heard “llama” Brian and I broke out into fits of giggles like Pavlov’s dog
Tour books tell you that patience is a must in Thailand, always smile and never loose your cool. Well, our faces hurt a little today. The consolation prize of our free tour of Bangkok is that we got a free tour of Bangkok. I am not sure a midnight romp around the city is offered in any of the tour company brochures.
Bangkok: "Good time City", officially the city that never sleeps. A great city. People everywhere, traffic...noise. On our drive from the airport to our Hotel we saw people out, having food...going in and out of clubs...and even soccer and volleyball games...all at 2am .
Right now it's Bri and I, then Soon to join us is Our Friend Ryan Johnston (Denver) and his pals Bob and Moe (Ryan's college buddies). Not sure how computer service will be out of Bangkok, but we'll try and stay in touch.