Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bangkok - Day One

Three plane changes, two games of dominoes, one book, and several movies later we arrived in Thailand without incident. Playing up the honeymooner card really helped out. It almost resulted in an upgrade to first class on the Air China flight to Taipei. At the last minute, someone paid to sit in those seats and we lost out. Just knowing that we could have flown first class pulled me through.

I think that we had good travel mojo going for us due to a good deed done in the SeaTac airport. We had already figured out where our gate was and went to explore the vastness that is SeaTac. On our way back, I saw a pilot trying to help out a Vietnamese family. I figured that he was attempting to tell them how to get to their gate and that they were probably on the same flight as us. That’s how we ended up adopting a six member Vietnamese family that spoke about six words of English, between the six of them. They latched on to us as we lead them to the gate. It was a very long distance from where we picked them up so they kept looking concerned. Eventually, the dad just handed David his luggage which was, we assume, packed with nothing but rocks. I looked over my shoulder and noticed that the young teenage girl was struggling along with her bag. As I had rollers, I just plopped hers on mine and soon discovered that her luggage was packed to the brim with rocks as well. Once we deposited them and their rocks at the gate, we sat down for a game of dominoes. It seemed to interest every Asian person in the terminal. The Vietnamese father even came over to offer David game advice. He was very disappointed when David lost to me. I, on the other hand, was happy to show my dominoes prowess to the world.

The last time arrived at BKK, we were among the throes of stressed out tourists trying to make sense of the maddening array of people offering you transport. At that moment, everything you read in the guidebook and filed away in the “come home alive” mental folder is lost. Was it the pink cabs with yellow license plates that have been known to murder people or was it the yellow cabs with blue license plates? Lessons learned last time (and the grace of picking the correctly colored cab) led us to book transport directly with the hotel.

We emerged from the baggage claim with all luggage in tact and was immediately met by a representative of the Four Seasons who took our luggage and called around the car. What a car it was. David says something about S Class Mercedes (or was that 5 Class…whatever). I just know that it was filled with ice cold bottles of water, chilled lemongrass scented towels, and these little coffee flavored hard candies that were to die for. He noted that the seats were fully adjustable by these five little buttons on the door. Want to recline like you are in a La-Z-Boy? Just touch a button!

As soon as we arrived, our bags were whisked away and we were sitting down to lunch at Spice Market, their Thai restaurant. Our choice of hotel this time around was due to a terrible hotel experience last time. During our last stay, our friend, Sonny, was staying at the Four Seasons and we would find refuge from our hotel hell by eating his daily fruit basket and relaxing on his non-lumpy mattress. This time, we wanted that for ourselves! We knew that it would be relaxing and that food would be good if we got there and had nothing available but room service. What we will do for a late night burger that doesn’t taste like dog food.

A leisurely lunch and a shower later, we were on the streets heading out to our favorite Thai massage joint. We found it easily thanks to my stellar mental filing system. Two hours and one fabulous Thai massage later, we had been smacked, thwacked, and cracked from foot to neck. Who knew that you could actually have your spine swung so far around that you could be staring at your own rear?

Emerging refreshed and starving, we headed up Soi 11 looking for a street vendor to fill our tummies. Right across from the ATM bank, we found what became my favorite vendor in all of Bangkok. It was the familiar smell of Vietnamese pho that lured us in but it was definitely its own Thai dish. We dined on a soup of beef balls, thinly sliced beef, and fatty flank. Self seasoned with fish sauce, chili peppers, sugar, and other spices it hit the spot. I shall dream about this soup until I return again.

The party animals that we are, we were back in our room by ten p.m. As we were about to find out, in Bangkok the early bird really gets the worm.

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