Day 1: On the Road
Beijing is smog city, faintly emerging from the sky in a puff of pollution which blocks the sun from reaching earth. I swear I just saw its orangey glow above the man made cloud only moments before landing. Ick. From the sky all I could make out through the smoke was identical row after row of blue roof red roof grey roof POOF – lost in the smog again. Factory. High rise, factory. The bloated belly of consumerism.
This is the largest airport in the world. The architecture curves up and away until the ceiling appears to be an optical illusion. Inside it is a strangely depressing array of things wrapped in shiny papers and zombot employees who never smile or make eye contact. It was a flip from the 12 hour flight with Air China, which is the best one I’ve had. The flight attendants weren’t smiley but my legs didn’t touch the seat in front and the food wasn’t even horrible. Plus, pillows and blankets and movies with Chinese subtitles. Cindy from Mongolia even gave me her window seat when we were landing so I could drink in the beautiful Beijing.
The wi-fi is dodgy in this airport and my flight is delayed 35 minutes. This means I’ll be landing after midnight, getting me into downtown Bangkok around 1 or 2 in the morning. No, I don’t have a hostel booked. In fact, I’ve done no research on accommodation or checked to see if the hostels will be open at that hour. I figured midnight wouldn’t be so bad but didn’t account for a delay. And I thought I could look something up on the internet as I waited to board but hey, isn’t this all part of the fun? Whatever. Maybe I’ll just come to see that by morning, the world is my oyster.
Day 2: On the Road
On the second flight, I sat next to Mike from Cleveland who’s off to meet friends in Southern Thailand and then motorcycle around Cambodia. He admired my said “bravery” to go it alone. Brave? Maybe if travelling solo seemed like a scary notion. But I pretended I was Wonderwoman for the rest of the flight anyhow.
The foreign affairs officer in the Bangkok airport didn’t look at or speak to me when he stamped a visa on my passport. Funny, since he questioned the guy ahead of me a bunch about his accommodation. I’d definitely peeked at his foreign traveller slip in line and copied the address to mine, which isn’t even in Bangkok, as it turns out. His name is David from San Fransisco and it’s his second time here. He’s starting a tour company and gave me his “business card” in case I had any questions or wanted to hang. Then I booked it for the rail to downtown. Closed. Taxi stand. Number 46. Off to Khao San Road, which is apparently the best bet for a hostel at 2am.
An urban jungle of utter insanity welcomed me; white people in neon, never ending food vendors, rats and garbage and broken glass, the smell of a million people and spices and trash. Honking, yelling, everybody trying to sell me massage, ping pong sex shows, beer, food, laughing gas. I just need a place to sleep!
After a few attempts, I found a hotel that was a little more than I wanted to pay but hey, my own room, a shower, a BED. And that is what I did.