Thursday, May 31, 2012

Days Like Tuesday

Alright; ain’t gonna find time to write a ‘proper’ blog post, so here goes spitting one out before my brain is totally fried. Well, my brain is totally fried, but whatever. Tuesday and Wednesday are my busiest teaching days of the week. But set that aside for now and let’s get down to the point.

Days like Tuesday are why I’m here.

On Tuesday, I was shown the kindness of a free ride not once, but FOUR times. That NEVER happens! Yes, occasionally it happens. There is a group of nice motorbike guys that will sometimes take me to the end of the soi, and have driven me to the hospital when it was clear farang girl in pajamas needed some assistance. Diagnosis, tonsillitis, yes, I’m pretty sure that’s the problem too, so much so that if you said let’s go upstairs and cut you open I would have obliged. The chapter in the novel ‘Mai Pen Rai Means Nevermind’ entitled ‘Farang with the Cut Throat’ was sounding very familiar in that waiting room. Thankfully we agreed on a course of antibiotics, let’s go ahead and throw in the etc. etc. etc. and be done with THAT story. Long version is not necessary. That was last month and we’re good now, me and my tonsils. I always start new jobs with tonsillitis (shaking head and mouthing not really). But I digress.

Tuesday, one of the Thais that works in the school kitchen was riding by in a tuk-tuk, stopped and picked me up and took me with on the way to work. On the way home, I was walking in the rain and a kindergarteners father picked me up in his taxi and took me the rest of the way. I don’t teach the kindergarteners so at first I was confused, and then glad, and as soon as I got upstairs it really hit monsoon proportions.

And then I was doodling around on twitter and whatnot and all those other internet activities you don’t need full brain power for and found out exactly when Aung San Suu Kyi would be exiting the Suvarnabhumi International airport, and from exactly which exit. Wasn’t originally planning to do this; but armed with that information and not at work I thought why the hell not.

Now I must say, this is absolutely the most creative excuse for not working on lesson planning I have come up with to date. I decided what the heck, I can take the trains and go see history unfold. I’m in Bangkok, and I have to work during the day when she’ll be out and about and giving talks and visiting Mae Sot, why on Earth not tonight?

I set out and a taxi just outside my building waved at me; I explain I’ve got no change (taxis start at 35 baht and I’ve got 17 in my pocket in coins), only a 1000 baht note (which is waaaaay too much to break in a taxi, fyi, if you ever needed to know). So, he drove me to the mouth of the soi (bok soi) for free. Alright, so that’s third times the charm today for kind people giving me rides in one day, I must be on to something here.

I walk on and grab a motosai to the BTS station for 10 baht. And then I ride the Silom BTS to the Sukhumvit BTS to the Airport Link, all of which takes a fair bit of time (though I’ve just listed all of the elevated train transport in Bangkok). I’m running later than I would like; I was already delayed because I remembered I needed to charge my DSLR battery. Armed with both cameras with decent battery life I set off around 7:30pm, her arrival at the airport was 9:40pm. Let’s move!

Of course, by the time I got there I was starving since I hadn’t really made a dinner plan. And I ended up doing something I advise all Americans visiting Asia to avoid doing at most costs. I ate at Subway. Glorious, glorious mediocre sandwich. Had I not been craving a sandwich so badly, it might have been a problem. Though actually, the airport perhaps has a slightly better sub than elsewhere in Thailand. Generally speaking, especially if you’re not in Asia long, it’s not worth it. But oh, a sandwich.

I regrouped and headed up to the second floor and figured out a way to get outside to where she would be exiting. Once I spotted the cluster of tripods and video equipment it was easy.

I saw people from Myanmar holding up signs to welcome her. I saw the canine unit brought out to sniff around well before her arrival. I met a Thai that lives in my neighborhood, and he ended up driving me home along with his maid from Southern Myanmar. She had made a welcome sign. She was crying after we saw her.

In typical fashion, my DSLR shot at the crucial moment was terrible and though I charged my batteries, I let my compact camera’s card fill up. D’oh. But I was there. I saw the Lady set foot on foreign soil for the first time in 24 years. I experienced the kindness of so many Thai people in one day, after living in the backpacker ghetto and getting run through the mill repeatedly at Immigration I didn’t think it possible. I saw women with signs to welcome her crying, and smiling, and crying. It was a small moment. Each of these things that occurred on Tuesday were small moments. But these are the small moments that I’m over here for in the first place.

I’m glad for days like Tuesday.

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