Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Bangkok airport & beyond...

It's the next day and it's Dec. 4th again!

My body was filled with that weird buzzing feeling that comes from doing these kind of things to one’s self.

To my amazement, my carry-on suitcase filled with 40 lbs of too much camera gear never got so much as a second glance from any security officer or x-ray person in Austin or San Francisco or even Hong Kong….Patti and I laugh at my need for attention being so strong that I might get my feelings hurt if I don’t get interrogated or searched by customs agents.

I should be really grateful because they have always let me pass through without a hitch.

Once while driving our old Junker Datsun across the Italian border from France, the border patrolman who stopped us smiled as he handed us back our passports.
I motioned to the empty page where he didn’t put his stamp (I liked those stamps as travel souvenirs) So he took out his stamp, inked it up real good, walked back out to the car and instead of marking my book, he stamped me right in the middle of the forehead as he and my girlfriend broke out laughing…Good one!

I found a luggage cart and proceeded over to the carousel to find my big “body bag” coming round. I hoisted it onto the cart with the last bits of strength and off I went to find my friends, Kristi & Roger from home who were due in any minute from Tokyo.

I made my way to where the herds were waiting and holding their prospective “Mr. Smith” signs. I saw a smoothie booth and thought that that kind of thing might taste really good about now…After pouring over the menu, I reached into my pocket to get some money and then for some reason I glanced over to the luggage cart..”Holy shit!” I gasped, where’s my carry-on?!?!?!?

The Carousel, I left it at the carousel when I went to get the big body bag….


Suddenly, with a very unwelcome rush of adrenaline,, I was panicking and totally engaged in a really not – fun real live video game as I was running cart first with total conviction down the densely populated path back to carousel #7. I think I clipped a sandal wearer’s Achilles tendon as I glanced off of a sign kiosk while trying to right my craft as I was quickly loosing control. I don’t think these thing’s steering systems are designed for this kind of maneuvering at high speeds.

Sorry for that guy’s wrecked heel, but at least his new handicap wasn’t in vain…There it was, my suitcase full of too much camera gear, all by itself, sitting there safe and sound.

That’s when it hit me that I was in Asia.

A very similar thing happened to me and Patti at the old Bangkok airport two years ago except that it was at least a day or two before we even realized that we’d left our big bag full of souvenirs from Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia there. We took a long taxi ride back out to the airport on the way off chance that we might maybe somehow find it. Low & behold, there it was! Security handed it over with a smile.

That old - fashioned feeling of safety here is one of the many reasons that I love this part of the world so much!

All is well, but so far I haven’t even opened the carry-on suitcase with too much camera gear, because I am really enjoying my $100. Canon G3 from eBay that my Pulitzer prize winning pal Smiley told me to get as a back up camera…

Here are a few spirit houses & their contents as trial photos on the way to the Vietnamese consulate to get our visas...

But today is the 5th of December and it’s the King’s birthday and this year it’s his 80th. In Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, it is a spectacular celebration on the streets everywhere! That means I will be busting out the big rig for this for sure. This 20D camera is a total night owl in low light. It was the camera that everyone who was taking great photos here last time was using. As you can see, it’s the King’s favorite camera too!

It should be really beautiful tonight as the city is in full regalia.

I assume that the fireworks alone are going to be totally awesome as they burst into air over the Grand Palace especially reflecting across the Chao Phraya River.

As you can see, everyone is wearing the King's fav colors which are either yellow or pink... I wish we had a reason to love our king...


BJ in Budapest said...

Hi Ben,

I'm so glad you are keeping a blog of your trip. It's great to read about your experience. Brings back great memories of blogging in Budapest for me. You are a great writer, and funny too!



sakrawee said...

This is so amazing travelling stories.All pictures are lively especially in Burma. Thailand,Laos,Burma are fantastic.I am looking forward to have this story in my bookshelf.Cheers!


Bob Livingston's Posts said...

Hey Ben, Your blog is fantastic - this is your book!

(It was great to meet up with you, sorry you get sick and we couldn't meet back up. The show at the Ambassador's was good, strange and...well, I got sick as a dog too. About halfway thru the show, I was feeling really bad, but powered through. let's talk in Austin soon.)

Anyway, GREAT stuff here!

Bob Livingston