Back to BKK

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
1
214
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, June 8, 2009

It was a long but not unpleasant flight.  Etihad is a pimp airline, even in economy.

Getting back to Thailand felt great.  It was immediately comforting.  The familiar sights, the cheap cabs, the recognizable neighborhoods and even the brutal traffic were all known commodities, which both invigorated me and put me at ease.  They didn't do that for Jack.  It was utter culture shock, which I expected.  What was hard for me to grasp was that other people find that feeling unpleasant.  I love that newness of seeing a country for the first time, the strange script, the food carts, the exotic people.  It's why we chose to go to Thailand in the first place after the familiarity of Latin America for so long.  It's cool to know that we can arrive in one of dozens of countries in Central and South America and speak the language and navigate the culture, but Asia was an entirely new challenge.  A 22-hour flight (and going from university finals of her senior year to traffic jams 10,000 miles from the only world she had ever known - all within a week) had Jackie a little off balance.  So instead of immersing her in the newness of it all, we immediately showed her that Bangkok provides all the comforts of home. 

We went straight to our new condo building, where she had her own furnished studio waiting for her.  We had pasta at a cafe downtown and pointed out the ubiquitous 7-11s.  We gave her a few hours to decompress from her journey before trying to impress her with the journey that lay ahead.

Jeremy, my sister-in-law's son, was already in Thailand.  I had helped him get an internship at a 5-star hotel in Bangkok, and he arrived a week before we did.  He had also never been out of Texas, but he had been navigating Thailand all on his own for a week.  He was a champ.  I had kind of thought he'd hide in his condo (also in our building) and just work until we got there to show him around.  But he had already been all over the city, seeing the tourist sights and hitting the bars.  He was eating street food and learning the language.  He had thrown himself into his new environment with a zeal that I don't even think I would have managed at 21.  He and Jackie were the same age and from similar backgrounds, but for the entire summer they would be a study in contrasts.  I'll do a little foreshadowing and tell you that in the next couple of months there will be motorbike accidents, drunken singing, romantic encounters, massage parlors, sunburns, hospital visits (about 15 actually)...meeting foreigners, hanging out with locals, work, play, comfort and chaos.  All in the span of 75 days. 
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