Wednesday March 19 2014
(sorry no pictures yet)
Well, got that long wagon train in the sky done with no major mishaps. We were an hour late getting into BKK but that wasn't too bad. The Seattle to Tokyo flight was delayed a while due to heavy winds in NRT (Tokyo). The same thing happened last year, but with a much longer delay. The landing was a bit rocky but from seat 36A I helped as much as I could. I expected the NRT to BKK flight to be delayed as well but it loaded close to being on time and had to sit on the tarmac as flight control cleared up some of the prior backup. That flight from NRT to BKK just about came to the limits of my endurance though. I can sit at home all evening watching television, but put me in a aircraft seat and I immediately need to get up and walk around. Luckily my row was three across with the middle seat empty so it allowed some movement without that sardine feeling.
The taxi to the hotel was a snap. I gues once you have done it a time or two it gets sooo much easier. You know at 2 a.m. the toll roads are virtually empty and you can go 120 km in a 45 km zone ? Once you hit the city streets it is totally a different matter. The sidewalks and roads were jammed. They were as busy as I see it during the daytime. The song New York, New York says it is the city that never sleeps. Well that is a lie. It does sleep, between 3 am and 5 am. Bangkok NEVER sleeps. $12 cab ride for 25 miles. Not too bad.
My reservation was all set and check in was easy squeezy. I spent more time trying to figure out the lock on my room than I did checking in. No card slot, RFID reader at the door that reads your card. I had reserved a 'Superior' (read standard) room and was upgraded to a 'Deluxe'. Let me tell you it is nice. A sitting area and then a sleeping area. Everything you could want shampoo, hairdryer, safe, iron and board, two 45 inch tvs. No view, but the room is plush. All for the price little more than the Motel 6 at home (I checked). I got to bed around 3 am and semi slept until about 6:30 am. I probably could have gone back to sleep for an hour or so, but my mental schedule wouldn't allow me to.
Showered and breakfast and out the door about 8:30 to go to the Myanmar (Burma) embassy to get the visa. I walked to the sky train and only had to ask two people how much I needed to feed the automatic ticket machine before I was flying above the snarled traffic of Bangkok's streets. The directions to the embassy that I found on someone's website worked beautifully. I only had to back track half a block.
A bit of confusion as to which line did what but eventually someone pointed me to the right line and "Bob's your uncle". A quick review of my paperwork a plastic number and wait for it to be called. I took my passport to he window when called, handed her the right amount of money and was told that my passport didn't have enough pages left in it. It needed at least one free page. My passport has 25 pages and page 25 was clearer than a virgins Wasswerman test. I guess they count one differently than I do. I whinned and pleaded, but she was firm. I had prepaid for the flight to Mandalay and three nights at a hotel, all non-refundable of course. Shit, fuck, hell. It is only around $200 in fees, but I really want to go to Burma.
I stepped outside to think and the penny dropped. There was a US Embassy in this town. Mister Tuk-Tuk said he'd get me there for about five bucks (I found out later the taxi fee for the same trip was a third of that). WTF I was in need. Besides I kinda like Tuk-tuks, I'm not ready for a shared motorcycle, but Tuk-tuks get you up close and personal with the street.
The line was a block long to the Embassy, but I noticed a shorter line with white sunburned faces so I went an stood in that one. In a jiffy I was explaining my situation to a lady through 3 inch glass. She said we can add pages to your passport, what time is your appointment ? Appointment whadda ya mean ? All US citizens need an appointment and it has to be made online. Please give me a gun, so I can shoot myself.
I picked a direction and started walking and asking for an internet cafe'. One travel agent did offer to do it for me for 500 Bhat ($12.00) That seemed just a tad excessive. I found a multi story business tower and asked at their information desk and she directed me next door to a shopping center on the second (third) floor. I didn't find a internet cafe, but I did find some sort of business with computers and a printer. Five minutes and I had found the web site, made an appointment for tomorrow at 8:30 am and had a print out of the confirmation page. Price ? 5 Bhat - Twelve cents.
I flagged down a taxi, regardless of price and found out the real price for a metered ride back to the area near the Myanmar embassy and the sky train station. The train back was less crowded at noon than it was at nine and I discovered a blister on my sandal clad foot. Back to socks and boots tomorrow.
So safe and sound in my hotel where I think I am going to stay for atl east the rest of the afternoon. Not too sure about what to do for dinner. But with 95 degree heat outside, a gimpy foot and 3 hours sleep in the past 36 staying here does have a certain appeal.