Endless journey

Even though we escaped ‘the weather’ in Boston, we didn’t entirely escape later. In Japan Delta decided to wait for the very delayed connecting flight from Detroit. As a result we left Narita 3 hours later than scheduled. By the time we approached Bangkok the weather was so bad and the air so choppy that the captain decided to cancel our last meal on the plane.

We arrived tired and hungry at the enormous Suvamabhumi International airport amidst thousands of holiday makers, mostly from China and Japan at 2 AM in the morning.  It took us a while to figure out that our hotel, although of the same chain, was not the one at the airport but rather 45 minutes away. The seemingly endless lines at the public taxi stand, with taxis trickling in at a snail’s pace, pushed us to return to the terminal and rent a limo, something we had at first thumbed our noses at because it was three times the cost of a public taxi. The Thai currency is the Baht. Like any other unknown local currency which relates unfavorably to the dollar, it presents itself with intimidating zero’s. In the end our ‘expensive’ limo-taxi ride was less than half the price we paid for the same distance from our home to Logan airport.

By the time we had made up for our missed meal through the hotel’s night menu service, it was 4:30 AM. This was only 3 hours away from our wake up call to return to the airport for the last leg of our journey to Cambodia. Once again, we joined a cast of thousands: pale Japanese and tanned Northern Europeans snaked their way through this and that line to get to their respective planes. As a mantra I kept repeating Mark Twain’s words: if you are patient you can wait much faster.

By the gates we said our goodbyes for the week: Axel boarded the Siem Reap flight and I boarded the Phnom Penh flight. I arrived at the lovely Plantation Hotel, sipped from a fresh coconut while waiting for my room and then fell into a deep sleep from which it took me at least 30 minutes to recover.  I had, after all, missed 3 nights.

A little groggy I joined my colleagues for dinner in a shopping mall where all of Phnom Penh seemed to hang out for Sunday fun. There we met one of our counterparts who had been so kind to sacrifice his Sunday evening to give us the lay of the wheelchair land in Cambodia. I had a hard time keeping up with the long list of acronyms and the cast of characters that make up a complex web of interactions, agendas, needs, priorities and habits. It was a French restaurant with a buffet that was essentially French with some light Italian and Cambodian influences.

I had booked a massage, the last slot at 9 PM, to help me resume my sleep without difficulty. Our informant had offered to drop us off at the hotel after our meal. I soon regretted that we had accepted his offer as he had forgotten where he had parked his car in the large mall garage. For about 15 minutes we searched for a car that we would not recognize even if we stood in front of it – with a color shared that is rather ubiquitous here. Although I arrived a little at the hotel I got my full hour of expert massage after which I sank into a long and deep sleep.

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February 2015
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