Saturday, January 9, 2010

One Night in Bangkok

Dubai airport – you'd expect something magical right? Well aside from the free internet it's just an airport. And you can't see the giant tower either. It's nearly a kilometer tall, you'd think you'd see it from everywhere, but you can't. Unless it's not part of the normal skyline? But it's nowhere – nowhere to be seen.

So that's sad.

I thought about exploring, but a I queued up to be searched and x-rayed I decided that I had hardly enough time to get from gate to gate, let alone outside then back in. Besides, I didn't want to see Dubai anyway. I've been quite vocal the last few months about my dislike of it. I'll say once more, any country that makes it illegal to be gay – well that's a terrible terrible place to be. I don't care if you're straight or gay, or something somewhere in between – stay the hell out of countries that have this law. Even if you're a bigot who for some reason feels that people of a sexual preference deserve certain punishments, think about what other laws might exist just beneath the surface? No – you know what – you take your girlfriend to Dubai, get the best hotel room, and then proceed to engage in acts of carnal knowledge with her. When you end up in Middle Eastern jail for having sexual relations with someone you're not wed too, well then there'll be one less prejudice voice on the streets.

Dubai. Really?

I was just there for a few hours. Mind you, it was almost a longer stay. Much longer than I had anticipated, as I fell asleep by the charge station (I'm back in a land where I can plug things in!) and when I woke up the boarding gates were opened. You'd have thought someone would have kicked me – but I wouldn't want to kick me either.

So run run run through the gates! And then you're in another waiting room. Whatever. When they called the first class passengers to board, I got in line just to test it out. On I went. You see – why bother saying you're just taking certain people if you'll take everyone?

This was my first time on a double decker plane. I'd been excited to fly in one of these for ages. An A380-800 I believe it was. For the longest time I thought it would be the most magical experience of all times. It was one of the reasons I was stoked to fly Emirates, a I knew they had a bunch of them, and you know what? Nothing special. It's just a plane. That was a disappointment.

But Emirates knows how to fly. If I thought Virgin was great, well it was just due to ignorance. Emirates has a fine selection of hundreds of movies – HUNDREDS of movies – to choose from. Thousands of full albums, including the discography of both Queen and Led Zeppelin. There are also TV shows with such delights as Top Gear (Sadly, Matty P, I had no time to watch any, and I just don't think i could have bared to see them knowing you were so far away – tear.)

And there's this fantastic feature where you can view the world outside your plane. Not through a 3D model representation of whatever, but through cameras mounted on the front, for first person view, the tail, for third person chase cam, or from the bottom, for a birds eye view of the world below. You can watch all this full screened, while chillin' out to Led Zeppelin IV.

On the flight I watched three more depressing movies. I have a knack for finding the sad ones, or just finding non-sad movies sad (UP was still the most tragic thing I've seen, and yes there was blood in it, for all those who told me I was wrong – for it is YOU who are the wrong ones!)

I started off my sob fest with the Time Traveller's Wife. It ended as you knew it would, but still – not happy. Oh sure he'll be around in the future, but not in a good way. And, I mean, come on – if I could predict how and when he was going to die, why couldn't he? Furthermore, he states that he can't change things, and can't manipulate events. You know I was ready to believe that until you go and win the lottery disproving everything, and indicating that you're just a schmuck who can't use his power properly! Anyway – is there any point to reading the book, if I've seen the movie? Help me out here.

And then I watched – see I keep forgetting what I watched. I rememebr that my second movie on the JNH to DBX (I think those codes are right?) was Aladdin – best Disney movie ever? I think so. Maybe not the best princess, but best movie. And a close second for the princess category.

Honestly, what did I watch? I know I didn't watch Gremlins – and that bothered me to no end, as I really wanted to check it out again, but found myself viewing the Soloist instead. Ahh, so that was the last one I watched. That was pretty good. Man, I like Iron Man as an actor. I should see what else he did. Maybe that wasn't a sob fest, but it wasn't uplifting either, despite the slow motion dance at the end.

Sso the second one was – hmm, i think it was 1 hour 36 minutes. What could it have been? Something I'd not seen – and would only watch on a plane.

Look I found a list:

oh yeah, Stone of Destiny. That's not a sad movie either – although it did make me tear up a little, and wish I was Scotland, and feel pride in my fictitious Scottish heritage. Look, if I go back a few extra steps, I'm Scottish. There's probably a clan and a tartan there for me somewhere. And aren't we all a little Scottish in our feelings? Well screw it – I've spent a few weeks there, fell in love with the highlands, and own the Rugby Jersey – not to mention my favorite ale is brewed right in Edinburgh. That's all I need – Scottish I now am, and curse the bloody Brits. Except when I apply for my passport, then we love the Brits. And aren't we all British really? I mean even the Scots are (sorry Scots) in the same way that the gap truck was actually a bus (sorry Raymond. We all heard you at the boarder declaring it for what it was.) Plus, you know, Dr. Who!

Alright, so then the plane lands, and I'm in Thailand, yeah? But I'm in the airport, and all airports are the same – if they're big enough – and you're not really anywhere. Not until you go out in the world and explore. Which costs money. And the ATM will only feed me money in limits of 5000. Which is stupid, because I wanted more, and have to pay 10CAD for each bloody transaction – like 330B (which is probably why they will only give me coin in limits of 5000, but still) and then I need to figure out how to get to my hostel.

I had directions – take the bus AE2 and get off at R. Wat stop. Fine. I got on the bus, tried to pass out as little as possible, and waited for that stop. Which never came. Or did come – but I didn't know it was the right stop, until the next stop, which was actually the end of the line. So there I was on Kaho San Road.

So now I was further away than I needed to be, late at night (somewhere between 8 and 10 – I never realy figured it out, as I was working between three time zones at this point, and what I thought the Thai timezone was was really an hour off – so hat wouldn't have made a difference even if I was thinking straighter.

With giant pack on my back, and another strapped to my front, I headed off down Kaho San road. Of course the bus dropped me at the far end of it. Now, honestly, I'm most glad for this. There is no better introduction to Bangkok than walking that street at night. It would be like if yo stepped off your plane into the middle of late night Shinjuku in Tokyo.

Bangkok is a lot like a poor mans Tokyo, or a condensed Tokyo, or a Tokyo that you don't need to cry when you get lost in, because trains shut down way to early, and you'll be in for a hurting. No. Bangkok you can always walk your way out of.

Now sure you'll be in what seems to be a pedestrian road, but quickly discover it is not, as you're clogged up in traffic, and stalls, and shops, and drunk white folk of all origins. And this would normally be a pure delight, a great adventure, a most desired cultural experience – except you have 25KG of gear affixed to your entire body!

But as I walked the street, I did get a good feel for the night life, and the safety of the night life. There was no fear, or worry that I was anywhere where I shouldn't have been, and as I made my way to my hostel, I became well advised as to where everything was localed and – if you can find your way at night, you can find your way during the day. This does not always work in reverse.

When I finally got to the Hostel (Nira's Boutique) it was like – well, I don't know, like coming home? Like returning to travel, the likes of which I'd not experienced for a long long time. I as entering a hostel, throwing bags down in a room, and then joining people in a common room to watch some movie which looked like it starred a digital Bruce Willis, who was really a robot, and jacked into a matrix like thing that was part of the real world – I don't know, Someone commented on how we were all jacked into our own notebooks, rather than talking. Normally this would bother me. But normally I would have talked anyway. Having been away from internets for so long, I was delighted to have a fast connection once more.

My room has air conditioning. I'm not sure how big of a boon or ill this will prove to be. It's night, and kinda chilly now, so it's all good.

I think it's winter here. It is, right? I believe I'm north of the equator now. It's hard to keep track of seasons when you're zipping above and below that imaginary line. And it strikes me that I, not once, videoed which way the water drained when I was in Africa. Now I'll never know if it goes in reverse there. I must remember to test this once I get to Australia.

Then there was the sleeping, with the delightful knowedge that I would have a day to wander and explore tomorrow. I mapped twenty five kilometers I wanted to cover, in three different loops all starting and stopping at my hostel (great location!) so we'll see how that plays out.

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