Spring R&R 2011 – Thailand – Bangkok

We landed in Bangkok and made for the shuttle to the Novotel CityGate, a swanky, upscale hotel a scant five minute drive from the airport, all designed to make our exit the following day all the easier. On arriving at this spotless establishment, mirrored “superman fortress of solitude”-like sculptures above the bar, we noticed that this was perhaps not the best place to hang out with children for SEVERAL HOURS. Upon retiring to the room (no free WiFi and smoky:P) we breezed through a coffee table book and decided on a mall to visit (we heard the shopping was good here, not that we shop more than we golf or anything). We arranged a taxi and got ferried the 25 minutes (!) at highway speeds, tolls, to Central World shopping center.
It was at this fine establishment that we would have lunch (oh c’mon, no free wifi?! I yearn for Nepal), do some shopping, get gifts for various folks in Nepal, and have dinner. Onward!
The mall was laid out like a catacomb of a Pentagon City Mall, like two or three of these joined together like siamese twins, none separable with their own escalators or anything. I felt like I needed a minority report-style holographic layout of this place just to tell where I was and what I needed. It was so large that full scale map boards were only at the main escalators; smaller floor-only directories were at the other ones. We dripped down and climbed up these escalators like droplets of oil on cascading staircases in those oil and water toys from our childhood.
Beyond the physical dimensions, there is something to be understood about this place that can be delivered in words, but fully understood only in person, so I’ll do my best to “esplain. No there is too much, I sum up.” It’s LOUD. Easily 20db. Is that right? I don’t know, but loud. So loud that the children’s mumblings and appeals were generally lost to me, and I had to shout to be heard (adding to the cacophony). Lay that org chart transparency on top of all that follows.
We made our way to an Italian Bistro for lunch and paid (ack, the humanity) $8/plate for food, though amazing. Afterwards we checked the movies (yes, more than one!) playing and figured that adult Thai films and childrens’ films dubbed into Thai were not our thing; seriously no good kids movies. OK, so let’s shop. The kids and I grabbed some Dairy Queen (yes, DAIRY QUEEN. I haven’t had a Blizzard in a year. Awesome) while Jean went to look for a fabric shop. (she is an avid seamstress, those who don’t know). The kids and I found another Happy Internet SIM from Dtac (mobile carrier). We met later (Jean hit Dunkin’ Donuts) and I passed the kids off to Jeano while she went back to find a real fabric store and I went to STARBUCKS. Heaven. Say what you will about it, but it’s RELIABLE. The glass-enclosed structure of Starbucks wrapped me in an envelope of Yuppy-flavored atmosphere, Apple-emblazoned devices casting a cool blueish glow on the recipients of Mochas and Machiatos alike. The transparent walls reverberated with each onslaught of sheer noise from outside, the inside blanketed by the melodies of the latest vanilla album for sale at the cash register. For a brief moment, if I squinted and removed my glasses, I could be in downtown DC, or Arlington, or Boston.
My bubble burst and Jean and kids returned. We made a bid for a grocery store (as big as Wegmans, only inside a mall. Crazy) and I fought the urge to grab handfuls of fresh, raw meat from the refrigerator bin to stuff into my bag. We marveled at the aisles of neatly stacked products. We bought collector gift chocolate shaped like thai monuments. Ultimately, we had dinner at the grocery store food court, seriously tear-rendering amazing food at excellent prices ($10 for the family dinner) and then bailed, securing a taxi ride back to the hotel. The sights and sounds of downtown Bangkok, the organized traffic, roadside food stands, traffic lights, faded away as we zoomed off into the night of the high-speed highways. Entering the guarded gateway of the hotel, we deboarded and again entered the luxurious hotel, and ascended to our fourth floor room in the family suite (“we have upgraded you, sir!” “Yeah, but still no free wifi?”) where the kids bedded down on their twin and crib, and we on our King. iDevices charging, wifi shared, we prepared to enter our Dopamine-deprived sleep (studies have shown that using a phone or computer just before bed deprives one of the “shut down” time, giving our brains a false sense of wakefulness and spoiling our sleep. Seriously, some scientist tweeted this the other night;).
The next morning, we rose to the amazing breakfast buffet that is Novotel. Best bacon ever. Also, fresh made waffles. And smoked Salmon, Prosciuto, and some cheese with an ash layer. Awesome.
Off to the airport we went. Would it be the crazy splayed teeth with cancer lip cigars or the tracheotomy ones? (apologies to those with these conditions, I hope you’re making money from the royalties on these cigar boxes) I settled on the cancer lip ones. And a bottle of Highland Park. I guess Thailand is required to put these ads on tobacco products. I have to tell you, it’s far more effective than Helvetica in large point. I almost didn’t buy them, but remembered how I’d kick myself if I didn’t. Two cups from Starbucks (AGAIN!!!) a bottle of water for the lil ‘uns and we blasted off into the skies of Bangkok, no more breakfast buffets, no more fresh seafood, no more progress. Alas.
The ride was non-descript, Jack Black did not wow me with his silent mime performance in Gulliver’s Travels. The curry chicken was excellent. The chocolate cake too. Eleanor slept some. We descended into the smoggy soup of Kathmandu, and bounced down in the airport. Deplaning, we jostled into the diplo-line and got our luggage. Haggled for a taxi with a luggage rack. Police whistled for traffic to move along. I accidentally bit my lip as I rattled off the name of our intersection, my lips not used to pulling back to utter the staccato multisyllabic phrase. English is spoken with the lips, Nepali with the tongue and gums. The 40+ year-old engine of the taxi cab grumbled. Buses swerved, people weaved, cars honked. The kids sang yankee doodle. It’s amazing that something so odd can feel so normal. I didn’t even notice if there were monkeys at the bus park on the way back. I was back to the devil I know. Welcome home old boy.

2 Replies to “Spring R&R 2011 – Thailand – Bangkok”

  1. Noooooo you can’t be back home. Kim and I have loved reading about your adventures, thanks for sharing them Ed. I know Central World well from my trips to Bangkok, which along with the MBK mall provided me with hours of people watching fun. You described it so well. Can’t wait to read about your next adventures …

Comments are closed.