If you do not watch The Amazing Race this phrase wouldn’t mean much to you. It goes without saying that pretty much anyone who loves to travel follow The Amazing Race. Although it is considered “reality” television, it really isn’t. Although there is plenty of drama, it is a competition as teams of two race around the world. The idea is to be the first one to the next pit stop but there are detours and road blocks along the way. There are always amazing adventures and nail biting finishes as people fight to keep from being eliminated. Every once in awhile I feel like I’m in the middle of an episode. Never more so than my layover in Bangkok… All I can say is thank God I it was a non-elimination leg!
Admittedly, I was a little anxious being that I had around 22 hours in a city I’d never been too. Between exhaustion, heat, and a bit of a sour taste left over from KL, I felt a bit of trepidation as I went through customs in Bangkok. Not to be stuck again, I exchanged my Ringits for Bhat at the airport currency exchange (who are notorious for having bad rates but after the cash fiasco in KL, I wasn’t about to be without it).
I follow signs indicating taxis, parking, baggage – you know – the normal signs you would follow to determine where the shuttles may be. Mind you, I did not know if this was a small or large hotel and assumed there would be a phone or some indication of how to contact said shuttle upon arrival. Up and down, up and down I walk but nothing. There are literally a hundred or so people holding signs with people’s names; often times lists of names that go down to the floor. I finally give up (at this point I assume I was a man in another life. I hate asking for directions!). I went up to a tour desk who basically didn’t understand a word I said. Finally a woman asked me if I needed help. She was an airport person. She told me I was suppose to ask for the shuttle when I made reservations. But she said go ahead and find a person holding the name of the hotel I needed. This was your proverbial looking for a needle in a haystack. These were not printed signs but handwritten signs. Finally, I find the hotel where I’m staying. I tell the woman I have a reservation but didn’t… Before I knew it she grabbed my arm and pulled me outside. She spoke in a radio and wha-la! A shuttle appears instantly. They ask my name, which of course wasn’t on the list. Good thing they had room as all of a sudden several others show up. This “airport” hotel was a good 20 minute ride. In the dark it was hard to see but it was a stretch to say it was a city. There were very few street lights and very few businesses. At last we pull into an alley and the driver indicates we should stay in the van. After he hops out and chats with another man, he jumps back in and we drive across the parking lot (maybe 10 yards) and we are allowed to get out.
It is always a treat to check into a small hotel in a foreign city. This was no exception! The room was similar to my first KL room. I did like the AC controls which showed a cartoon figure flexing its muscles and the word ‘powerful.’ Clever. The other nice touch was the two barking dogs. What more could a person want than to listen to two dogs howl all night long. Needless to say, I was up before my alarm.
As I wait in the lobby for the shuttle to go back to the airport, I step outside to take in the view. There was a shrine right outside the door and I realized we were in the middle of what would be referred to as ‘the projects’ if we were in NYC or Chicago. The two dogs lay in the middle of the street sleeping peacefully. I resisted the urge to run up and kick them (really a gentle nudge with my foot) but I let the not-so-proverbial sleeping dogs lie. Maybe Thai dogs are nocturnal. Too bad I’m not! Not to be deterred, I head back to the airport to begin the race… err, I mean tour.
To be continued…