Friday, October 21, 2011

Back to Bangkok. Again.

But...but...I just got here.

How could it have already been a month? Okay, 27 days. I'd planned on staying a month but then I'd gotten the news that my pal Lynne would be in transit through Bangkok on Saturday night. And I'd bought my AirAsia ticket to get back to Bangkok the day before she did. I'd leave ten days later, using the next stop on my round-the-world ticket to get to Australia.

My former home. Somewhere I'd be now if things had just gone a tiny bit differently. I wasn't sure I wanted to return.

I took a final look around my lovely Bali bedroom, pulled open the desk drawers for one last check, and looked back into the bathroom to make sure I'd packed my shampoo.

Kadek, the owner, had been right that I hadn't needed air conditioning. But one thing I could have used were screens. Those Indonesian mosquitos are brutal.

I left my key in the door, waved goodbye to the gardener and pointed to the key, then walked down the path alongside the stream, to the road and out of the rice fields. I'd booked the airport shuttle yesterday and it surprised me by arriving promptly at 9 a.m. My flight was at noon, so I was a bit nervous about hitting traffic.

Which, of course, we did.

The shuttle zipped around town picking up others, and the by the time we left at 9:20, I was already nervous. The airport is an hour away.

We drove down the exhaust-riddled main road that leads from Ubud to Kuta and then on to the Denpasar airport, after sitting in traffic for the last 20 minutes. Our 10:30 arrival meant that I had to hurry. I threw my bag onto a cart and scampered over to the AirAsia baggage check—I'd checked in online already, and had printed out my boarding pass out at an Internet cafe by Ubud's Campuhan Steps.

Somehow I'd ended up without enough money for the departure tax. I changed the last of my US dollars—a few singles—and hurried to the gate.

There wasn't time to buy lunch before I got on the flight. You can pre-order meals with AirAsia for a fee, or settle for whatever they have on-board. I won't make that mistake again. The pre-order selection is better and you're served first, while the food is still hot.

On arrival in Bangkok, I'd been expecting rain. But the day was beautiful and the sky was blue. I hadn't really been paying attention to the floods in Thailand. I had assumed Bangkok's danger was due to rain.

Soon I'd learn how wrong I was.

The airport bus that used to go to Khao San Road was retired in June when I'd initially been here, and I'd learned the easiest way to get to a hotel last time I'd flown back, from Bhutan.

I caught the new airport train to Phayathai, the last stop which is in downtown. From there, you just hail a metered taxi to your hotel. The money savings isn't that big but the time savings is huge.

I strolled into Sakul House Hotel near Khao San Road. The workers and owners all greeted me like an old friend—probably because I've spent more nights here than any other tourist in their short opening life. The floods were on the TV news and they looked serious.

I unpacked quickly and headed out in search of pad thai and a foot massage, and the only ATM in the Banglamphu neighborhood that doesn't charge a 150 baht fee every time you take out money (hint: It's the gray and blue Aeon machine in the supermarket/department store, right by the supermarket exit).

And the first unusual thing I saw was that the Viengtai had piles of sandbags all along its front walk and entrance.


So this flood thing...maybe it was serious.

I made a last-minute swap from pad thai to chicken and glass noodles, then went to Pian Spa in the Susie Walking Street for an hour's foot massage.

Mmmmm. How will I ever go home?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for doing this. I get such a disconnect between these posts and your Facebook comments! More importantly, thanks for doing this as a public service, what with all the Occupy protests and such we're not turning our attention nearly enough to what's happening overseas.