(I'm flying to Thailand in a week or so, and remembered writing the following in the airport last year during the arduous journey home. I had forgotten about the statue of the three-headed elephant.)
I’m in the Bangkok airport in a plastic chair across from the waiting room for monks, midnight Thai time on a Monday night, waiting for an early morning flight which will stop in Japan on the way back to the east coast and winter. I have a stuffed head, no voice above a whisper, and shall we say "female complaints." Am exiled to the outer circle of airport hell because I was given the wrong information about which terminal to go to in Chiang Mai, and therefore missed passport control and cannot check in again until a few hours before my flight. All the comfortable places to hang out are inside the gates.
Let’s go back a few days to when I got locked out of the house. I had finished work at the international studies institute (water buffalo icon was the last thing on the docket) and took off for the afternoon to explore Nimmanheiman, a “high-so” neighborhood in Chiang Mai. I successfully got a pedicure, a delicious smoothie with lots of passionfruit juice, and had trolled through a few galleries, which resulted in procuring a seed pod lined with gold leaf and a nice conversation with a fellow botanical illustrator. Then I walked through some back sois searching for the statue of the three-headed elephant and the weird parking lot which would lead me to my friends’ place with the lovely swimming pool. Success there as well, refreshed and slightly more tanned I went upstairs and got changed and was planning to head home for a few hours of quiet. This is where things took the turn. Laura calls to let me know that the housekeeper probably locked the door to which I do not have a key. Meanwhile, I can feel the sniffle I had turning into a full-blown head cold. My friends are gracious and feed me, I’m picked up a few hours later, finally get home and collapse.
Saturday morning: woke up at 6 AM with lungs at half capacity, knowing I have to run a 5K at 8:00. We barely get there in time because of a child meltdown over a piece of plastic ribbon which was suddenly his pet snake which needed to have its head taped. Actually felt better after the run, but then I was locked out of the car which had my breakfast in it, and I got a headache from a combination of smacking my head getting into the rot dang and sinuses and a run in hot weather and diesel fumes and a winding road. Teaching “art in the park,” not so much. Staggered home and slept all afternoon. Art show that evening at a church event, which was great. But my voice started disappearing, and I could not sleep that night.
Sunday, sabai sabai morning…but no voice at all, not even a peep. Started packing, incredible how much I picked up here. Walking street in the evening, a great time and a few last minute beautiful purchases. Spiral earrings, crazy quilt hill tribe style, Harley shirt in Thai script for my brother. Hard to have a conversation in a busy street market when I can’t speak above a whisper. More packing, another late night.
Monday, also sabai sabai. Skype date with my family (short because still no voice), rode on the outside of the song tau which makes me happy, good lunch, easy final packing, goodbyes all around, a beautiful ride in heavy traffic along three walls of the old city. Sad whispered farewells, a virtual girding of my loins for the 36 hours ahead, and then I went through the wrong gate…