Here I am in Bangkok, after 20 hours of flying and continuous blessings from the travel gods (those fickle deities who at times wreak havoc with your travel life, and at other times see fit to bestow good fortune). This time I was blessed with a row to myself on both of my flights. During the longest leg, I had not just one empty seat beside me, but two. I felt like I was flying first class. Not even the large, chatty group of BYU students that surrounded me could take away the glow of two empty seats. I shamelessly stretched out and used every inch of space while they sat crammed together, happily taking photos of each other.
Stepping off of the plane in Bangkok felt like stepping into a wet sauna. It’s going to take a day or two to acclimate to the weather. Thankfully, I was met at the airport by my hotel transport, who treated me to an ice-cold towel scented with lemongrass and a refreshing, icy drink. Incidentally, the first few days of this trip come courtesy of the company for whom I am blogging (remember the essay competition?), which means I’m doubly blessed by the travel gods because when I arrived, I was ushered to a very nice hotel straightaway. For someone who normally travels on a budget, I feel like royalty (and let me just say…the room is awesome). I have to take care not to get used to this sort of luxury since after Bangkok, I will return to my much more humble mode of travel as I make my way through Cambodia, and then end my trip with a week of volunteer work in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
If you stay abreast of world news, then you know that Thailand has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok due to the violent anti-government protests that began on April 2nd, and which have continued to this day. So far, over 30 people have died and hundreds wounded, the most recent from grenade attacks that were focused in an area that was dense with protesters. Although the protests first began near the government buildings weeks ago, they’ve now spread to other parts of the city and there are groups firmly encamped in busy shopping and business districts. This means that while I’m here, my ability to move around freely will be slightly hindered. Yes, I’m fully aware that my timing sucks. However, if you’ve been with me since I began this crazy bout of wanderlust many years ago, then you know that I’m not a stranger to really bad timing.
Incidentally, if you haven’t kept up with the world news, the protesters—who are known as the “red shirt” protestors because of their red shirts—are made up of people who oppose the current Prime Minister (PM), who gained his position after a military coup ousted his predecessor four years ago. These protesters believe the PM gained his position illegitimately and insist that new democratic elections be held. In the last week or so, another group of protesters has emerged who oppose the first group of protesters (when will it end?!). This new group supports the current PM and wear yellow shirts. I don’t want to make light of this, but all I can say is that I’m so glad that I packed nothing in yellow or red.
Anyhow, as per my usual, this entry is simply to say that I’ve arrived safely (and luxuriously!). I am told that my destinations for the day are “safe” ones, so it’s time to do a bit of sightseeing. Maybe I will run into Buddha. Hopefully he isn’t wearing a red shirt.