GPS coord.
lat.: 13.7591
lon.: 100.496
SFO => Bangkok: Day 1
Dec 05, 2003

Day 1 (or days 1 through 3, depending on how you count)

I want to start by thanking everyone who showed up at this going away party, and the previous one.  It really means a lot to me.  As I found out on the last trip, even I can get homesick and lonely.  When I do, I remember drinking with all of you at the Crow Bar.  It cheers me up and makes me smile.  Thank you!

Now back to the regularly scheduled journal entry.

Drinking at the Crow Bar before rushing off to catch a flight has become a tradition.  Many of the flights from SF to Asia leave at midnight which is perfect for showing up for the flight drunk.  Ayesha and Jenn both offer to buy me a first drink.  We compromise on them both buying me drinks.  "Scotch and scotch", they suggest.  It seemed a bit too civilized for the occasion, so I counter with "How about Tequila and a beer?" A good recipe for trouble.

No one else is out drinking on a Monday so we have the bar to ourselves.  After 2 hours, 3 giant shots of Tequila and 3 pints of beer, my friends tell me "It's time.  You have to go."  I think that it would be fun to be late for my flight and run through the airport.  Or perhaps, to be so drunk that they won't let me on the flight.  My friends are far more responsible than I am - especially after I've been drinking Tequila.  I give everyone a finally hug, and then Misha drives me to the airport.  I arrive on time and get on the flight without incident.

I had forgotten how long of a flight it is to Bangkok.  The flight to Taipei alone is 13 hours.  About 10 hours into the flight I realize that I'm hungover!  After advil and a ton of water the hangover fades.  I still have a 2 hour layover and another 4 hour flight ahead.  The 2nd flight continues from Bangkok on to Rome.  The announcements over the intercom are in Chinese and Italian.  With my lack of sleep it's very disconcerting.  Where am I?  Where am I going?

On the plane I read the customs form and learn that I need to pay duties on any electronic items worth more than $250:  my laptop and camera.  I'm not prepared to pay tax on my possessions every time I cross a border so I decide to try my luck.  I do my best to look unsuspicious and walk through the "nothing to declare line".  I make it without problem.

After successful smuggling my electronics into Thailand I catch the airport bus.  The bus ride is miserable.  20+ hours of traveling since I left the bar and and now I'm stuck on a bus in horrific traffic.  I takes another 1.5 hours before we finally reach Khao San Road. 

Then there is even more language confusion.  I meet a Spanish couple who speaks no English or Thai.  They don't even speak enough to order lunch or get a room.  They ask me if I will help them find a hotel.  I lead them to one of my favorite guesthouses.  In my exhausted state I'm speaking Thai to the Spaniards and Spanish to the Thai, but in the end we do all manage to get checked in. 

There is something about being a loud, smiling redhead that makes me extraordinarily memorable.  I've almost gotten used to it, but sometimes it still surprises me.  As we sit down for dinner the waitress says "I remember you.  You were here last year."  I drank there a half-dozen times 18 months ago.

I'm beyond exhausted.  I'm on the verge of getting sick with a touch of a sore throat and a cough, but I feel obligated to have one beer my first night in Thailand.  Fortunately (unfortunately?), Thai beers are 6.2% and come in liter bottles which is enough to get me a bit tipsy.  On the way back to my hotel, I walk past the street vendors selling pad thai tasty skewers of chicken for $.25.  I walk past bar after bar.  The food and drink is very tempting, but exhaustion and the sore throat win out.  I left the Crow Bar at 10 pm on December 1 and finally pass out in the hotel at 7pm on December 3.

End day 1.

It's day 3 (or 5) now and I'm sitting on a cushion in my guesthouse restaurant typing this up on the laptop.  The cold never quite materialized, but hasn't quite gone away either.  Fruit in Thailand is cheap and tasty so I keep stocking up on vitamin C. 

I just proof read this journal entry and realized that it's just a long ramble, but I suppose that's okay for a journal entry.  Hopefully it will have less blatant spelling and grammar errors.

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