January 20, 2005. It’s two days before Scott’s birthday, and just like last year, we spent the night before near Boston’s airport, freezing, because we’re not going to schlep winter clothing to southeast Asia. It’s a price you pay. Our flight on the 21st cross the international dateline, making his “special day” somewhat shorter — 12 hours, maybe.
We traveled Boston – Chicago – Tokyo – Bangkok for the start, just missing some stupendous snow in the northeast (a meter of snow, the Bangkok paper reported for Boston). The snow in Chicago we missed by an hour; Boston got slammed two days later. Flying across the world, even in Business class takes about 30 hours, it gets pretty boring. A newcomer on this trip is an Apple iPod, filled with Scott’s favorite music (in fact, all Scott’s music) plus a bunch of “Books on Tape” — a quaint name for library “books” recorded on to CD. We hope to listen to some of the book on long bus rides in our upcoming tours, using Scott’s [then] snazzy new fangled “iPod”.
It was great to be back in Bangkok, our home away from home, where the temperature is running in the high-80sF to mid-90s, humidity is about the same. We’re no strangers to Bangkok; we’ve watched it grow up over the last two decades, so we’re just sort of “checking of the lists” — places we’ve never visited, and we are quickly able to settle into a lifestyle that works: cheap ($1.50) Thai breakfast in the morning (rice soup in a luscious pork broth with diced pork, seasoned with a bit of prik nam plaa (Thai fish sauce infused with the heat of tiny, intensely spicy chilis). We have a week here to get over jet lag, and to arrange several loose ends for the trip that is to follow.
We did something a bit different this visit to BKK; we tried to “settle in to the pace of life” there. Keep in mind, we’ll never move at the pace Bangkok does (we no longer have the stamina…) — we mean to establish a pattern, as if we were living in the place — rather than simply to visit as tourists for the umteenth time. Found a local restaurant where we quickly became “regulars”, followed a fairly regular schedule (which for better or worse ended up with regular evening beer drinking), got up and did it again the next day, with the same sorts of daily variations one would expect at home. Six dollar Thai massage today, dear? Six dollars again? Didn’t we just do that yesterday? “OK, just a foot massage”.