Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Touch Down in Bangkok

I'm sitting in Coffee@8 at the corner of Soi 8 and Sukhumvit for free use of their internet wireless and a breakfast consisting of a croissant filled with cheese, fried egg, ham and bacon, along with a Café Americano. Chatting with friends, new and far, looking for rooms and apartments for rent, receiving junk mail on my new cell phone number (+66 899283603 for those who like to phone long distance), and wondering what happened to some of the photos I put on my blog which have disappeared (the removal is selective rather than total).

I have arrived at my new home, Thailand, and now have to figure out what to do for an encore. How can I top this? Moving 7500 miles away to find myself, when we all know that home is where the heart is. My heart feels like a schizophrenic.

The flight here was pleasant and I have little to complain about. I bought the ticket online from Delta which contracts with China Airlines. When I checked in at San Francisco, I discovered Delta had not communicated to China my request for an aisle seat, and so there was no little negotiation to get what I wanted. I also assumed, wrongly it turned out, that all trans Pacific flights are modern and have entertainment centers at each seat (Cathay Pacific and Malaysian Airlines did). This one did not, and so I read, listened to my iPod and dozed. None of the movie choices on the big screen at the end of the compartment seemed interesting ("Chaos" and "Lucky You"). I had rice and pork for two meals, but ate light. A little over 12 hours after takeoff, we landed in Taiwan and I explored the airport for the four-hour layover, finally finding a Starbucks but no free wireless access. The plane to Bangkok was much more modern (and less full), and including the said entertainment offerings. I watched part of "Becoming Jane" which just opened in Santa Cruz, but the incongruousness of the costume drama with my Asian pilgrimage was just too much, and I went back to sleep.

While waiting for the customs interrogation, I set up my new phone with a Thai SIM card, then called and sent text messages to a few local friends. Although the sign behind the officer said a return ticket must be shown by all tourists, she did not ask for it. Regulations and reality often diverge here and it's important to know the difference between what is enforced, and what is not. The large new modern airport was familiar, as was the ride into the city by bus. Coming down Sukhumvit, I scanned the neighbors along the Sky Train to see what might be suitable. I've extended my stay at the P.S. Guest House through Sunday and I hope during this week I'll find what I need.

Late in the afternoon, after a short nap, I walked down to Jerry's apartment and we caught up on each other's news. He flies to Memphis on the 13th for Elvis Week where he will be an honored guest. Then he'll visit with his children followed by a trip to Los Angeles. We walked down the soi at dusk to the Italian restaurant and both had pasta. Jerry quit drinking to lose weight and he already looks trimmer than yours truly. So it looks like physical fitness will probably be on my new agenda.

I slept fitfully last night as my body adjusted to the new time zone. But overall, I got enough and woke fairly rested. The guest house does not have internet access but I managed to connect temporarily to a couple of wireless nodes in the neighborhood and even sent email from my room this morning before the signals faded. For now, it's convenient to come down here to Coffee@8.

This is not much of a read, I know, but some of you are curious about the transition. And so here are a few of the early details.

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