Back from Thailand and what it a transition it is: from hot and humid Bangkok to freezing and dry Seoul. At least it's not snowing. Be thankful for small blessings.
Thailand was everything I expected and a million times more. Although I didn't love Bangkok and probably won't return there, I'm so excited to explore more of Thailand in the future. The gorgeous north was one of the most extraordinary places I've ever visited, and the islands certainly lived up to all the hype.
The trip from Koh Samui to Bangkok was certainly an adventure, at least. It was sad to leave the beautiful ocean and sandy beach, knowing that we'd be back in the cold in just over 24 hours.
Rather than fly, as we did on the way down, we opted for the ferry/bus/train combo. Hmmm... Well, couldn't hurt, right?
The expressions on our faces as train after train pulled into Suratthani Station might have told a different story. Each train looked more run down than the next, crammed with seemingly hundreds of people in each car, lights flickering intermittedly, the windows permanently open. Like my worst third-world country travel nightmare. That sounds terrible, but it's true.
Luckily our car, a second-class sleeper, wasn't nearly that bad. Unfortunately, Thai people live in such constant heat that they keep their aircon cranked up (or down, whatever) to sub-zero temperatures. Jeanette and I (and our Taiwanese cabinmate) froze through the night, barely able to sleep between getting up to put on more clothes and shivering in our thin, terrycloth blanket.
My bottom bunk neighbor seemed to have no such problems. He happily sawed logs from about 9 pm to the morning. Lucky guy.
Jeanette and I spent our last day in Bangkok exploring the Weekend Market. If you can dream it, it's for sale here. Everything from priceless antiques and hand-carved furniture to cheap Rolex knockoffs and $1 dresses. A bargain hunter's paradise. We were both quickly running short on funds but managed to scoop up some great deals, plus a last taste of curry and one final fruit shake. Gosh, I'm going to miss fruit shakes. So simple, yet so nonexistent here.
Woke up bright and early this morning at 4 AM -- well, not quite so bright since it was dark and hazy outside, but certainly early -- and headed to the airport for a long day of travel. First a flight from Bangkok to Taipei, then another leg from Taipei to Seoul.
What was ridiculous was that although we were staying on the same aircraft, and on the same seats even, everyone was forced off the airplane with all their bags and made to sit at the gate for a pointless 45-minute interval. At least we didn't have to go through security again, which is what happened to Mark on his way to Thailand.
Now that I'm back in Seoul, I've both started mentally preparing to go back to work tomorrow and planning my next trip. Besides Australia in July (which is a definite), I'd really like to go somewhere for our week off in March. Cheap ideas?
Thailand pictures will be up tonight on Facebook and tomorrow, hopefully, on the blog. It takes forever for me to upload them here.