I made it to Thailand! It's been quite the ordeal so far.
I was supposed to leave JFK on Monday at 4:50pm but my flight didn't end up leaving until 6:30pm. The staff members at the gate told me that if I missed my connection in Beijing, they'd put me in a hotel for the night and fly me out the next day. I was kind of excited about that option. The airplane was sweet. It was Air China and a double layer airplane. I don't know if I've ever flown on one of those before. My flight was spent drifting in and out of sleep. I read my book for a wee bit and I think I watched a movie but the fact that I can't name it for you displays my level of consciousness during the film. Oop, I lied. I remember. I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane. It was terrifying.
Beijing was a scramble. Even though our flight was SUPER late getting in. It was supposed to leave at 7:30pm but we didn't end up leaving until 11:30pm. While in the Beijing airport I met a fellow traveler named Tess. She just finished her first year of med school in Philly and is going to be spending a month of her summer off in Thailand. Genius, right? She seemed really cool. She raved about Philly and recommended I come spend the weekend there sometime. I think I will.
This particular flight was a breeze. I don't know how long the actual flight lasted but the two seats next to me were empty…so you bet your bottom dollar I sprawled out and had my first horizontal sleep this trip--which was sock rocking. We got in around 2am. I finally got hooked up to wifi, found an e-mail from the hotel saying they would have a staff member stay at the front desk to let me check in late that night, I collected my bag, hopped in a cab and after a mess of finding the hotel (I discovered that while our languages are very different, our sound effects for "crap, I don't know where I am" are the same), I arrived at 4:00am. A really sweet guy behind the counter checked me in, answered all of my questions and showed me to my room.
I was hoping to catch a 9:00am flight to Chiang Mai which meant I would really only have a couple of hours to sleep….which my body decided not to do. I tossed and turned in the dark and when the sun started rising at 6:00am, I realized sleep was a lost cause. I ended up hopping out of bed at 7:00am, showering off, putting on some makeup, my bicycle shirt, packing a lighter bag to bring to the airport and left the larger one to be babysat at the hotel. How cool that they do that, right?!
I stepped out onto the streets of Bangkok feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb. The pastiness and blonde hair is one thing, but the extra cargo is also a giveaway that I don't belong. The streets were interesting to take in. Late at night in the cab, the buildings all looked cream-colored, but I could see now that they were a wide array of bright colors. An occasional marked cab drove by with lots of scooter cabbies. I would totally be down for taking one to the airport if I didn't have a larger bag in tow.
Since flagging a cab down was not happening as quickly as I liked, I stopped by a gas station, bought a granola bar (25 baht ~ less than $1) and a bottled water and asked a cab driver filling up with gas if he would take me to the airport.
This airport was much closer than the one I was at last night and the ride was much more enjoyable now that it was light outside and I could see where I am. The wires strung between poles outside are like a clogged hair brush--there are so many tangled wires! I don't know why it fascinates me so much. I keep wondering what they all go to and why they have so many when we have only a couple strung from pole to pole back home.
Showing up at the airport without a ticket was humorous. I had to ask for directions a few times to figure out where to buy a flight. It cost 1600 baht (or like 45 dollars). Isn't it crazy that I normally spend 30 dollars to take the bus from NYC to DC and now I'm spending roughly the same amount to FLY to Northern Thailand? #Thailandforthewin
I'm really excited about hanging out in Chiang Mai for a few days. Currently on the docket during my time there:
**Elephant Camp--this is the only thing I reserved ahead of time. There will be feeding, riding and swimming with an elephant. I know it's a stereotypical thing to do in Thailand but I regret nothing. It's been a bucket list item to ride an elephant and merely watching the promotional video online made me tear up. I'm kind of thankful I'm going by myself so if I'm grinning like an idiot and crying with joy throughout my ride, I'll at least not have witnesses that I'll have to see again. haha
**There's an option to zip line through the jungle. Why wouldn't I do that?!? As long as it's not too expensive and doesn't take all day, that is EXACTLY what I'm going to do. I remember setting a New Years Resolution when I was in high school to be more brave. I was really self-conscious about not cliff jumping at Lake Powell from very high and I wanted to be less of a pansy. Hopefully high school Mallory would be pleased with coming to Thailand by herself and zip lining through the jungle like it ain't no thang.
**I'm planning to get my first (of possibly many) massages. I had heard they are the equivalent of $3 for an hour massage. Are we joking?! Do they need social workers here? Because I will move.
**Apparently I also need to rent a bicycle and take a wee tour around town. I'm hoping to do that today (hence wearing my thrift shop bicycle shirt that I'm oddly proud of).
I'm tired. My body has no idea what time it is or what meal it's craving. I don't have a return ticket back to Bangkok and only have one scheduled activity in Chiang Mai so far. Maybe it's strange but there's something so liberating about being on this trip by myself. Traveling at odd hours, delays in flights, getting into my hotel at 4am, buying a ticket to a different city on a whim, etc. It's been random and crazy but it's fun for me to reconnect with this part of myself that can be spontaneous. I've missed the traveling version of Mallory. It's been very stressful and crazy in New York the last few years. I'm really excited to have 9 days of a language I cannot understand for the life of me, converting bahts to dollars, getting rained on and having frizzy hair, experiencing a new culture, dealing with the exhaustion because I'm oh-so-happy to be here.