This is what life should be like.
Trip Start Oct 19, 2006
55Trip End Apr 05, 2007
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It has been so lovely to be in an apartment for three days - with air conditioning, clean beds with comforters instead of just bottom sheets, hot (!!) showers. We've been cooking a lot of our own meals, which is a nice treat after days and days of eating out. We also did our laundry, hurrah! I know it's crazy, but dirty clothes really do get cleaner if you use hot water, and if you don't wash them by hand in a bucket. Steve is on safari in Africa, so we have the apartment to ourselves, and we've mostly just napped in the afternoons, and slept in until the bright morning sun wakes us up. By the time we're ready to go out into the world, the hazy cloudy Bangkok sky has usually blocked any direct sunlight but not our great views of other big buildings.
Being back in Bangkok feels familiar and do-able. We know how to get around on public transportation to avoid the terrible traffic. It seems that every cab ride I've taken here has ended up being an exercise in me trying to control my frustration. The cab driver doesn't know what I said about where I want to go, but Thai culture means he should try to save face by not asking me to repeat myself, and we end up going in circles, in traffic, nowhere near the destination, while the meter runs. Grrrrrrrr. And then I feel like a terribly angry American who can't keep her temper under control, can't just let it go. One wonderful thing about arriving back in Bangkok was the ease with which we passed through immigration. Waiting to go through immigration and customs in Manila was an awful affair - crowds of pushing people in a sweaty room, no lines at all, and lots of staring. The airport in Bangkok seems to run well, although we keep hearing about problems they're having with shoddy construction - it was just opened this past September, and already it's falling apart.
You'd think a little R & R here would mean we'd be better able to go back into the world of backpacker traveling, and it does, in some ways. The other side of being here is that it's so much closer to something like being at home again that there's a lot of inertia to overcome about leaving here. A bit of time and space to think about home means that we are working on how to be here, planning as well as we can for possibilities when we get back without stressing out too much and distracting ourselves from the "job at hand" of traveling.
We bought tickets yesterday at the main train station in Bangkok for the nearly 24 hour train ride down the Thai peninsula to Butterworth, just across the Malaysian border. I hope that the train ride itself goes as smoothly as buying the tickets did. We had to spend an hour and a half online buying the tickets for the rest of the trip, from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur.
Our plan right now is to go to Singapore when we leave Kuala Lumpur, and then on to Indonesia. Maybe we'll fly back up to Bangkok so that we can start the last loop of our trip around northern Thailand and Laos. Sometimes we feel like we need to make a plan that will let us see everything we planned to, even if it seems rushed. Sometimes we talk about cutting out a section or a country in order to have more time in one place. Balancing travel options and choices is not easy yet, even with all the practice we've had so far.
One of our big projects here at Steve's was to update the travelpod, so there are TONS of new stories and pictures - you'll have to go all the way back to the new year's eve entry (Sihanoukville) to see them all. We even put up two videos! You'll have to have Quicktime to see them - one is music from Siem Reap, and the other is Christopher doing a voice over to "fighting" hermit crabs in Port Barton. I hate to get behind and feel like funny stories and memories are getting left out, but I'm sure Christopher and I will both be telling all kinds of stories about this trip for a long time.