Yesterday evening I arrived in Bangkok. It was a miracle. With a flight leaving at 1:30pm from the Kathmandu airport, we intended to leave the foundation at 10 am in order to allow for the prescribed 3 hour window for security in international travel. However, the hired taxi showed up half an hour later due to a strike that was in effect until then. We pile in the Tata manual car, snugly but comfortable fitting the 3 of us and our luggage (as well as some of our spoils). Already this makes for an interesting adventure–the windows open to catch a breeze in the heat and our hands managing to prevent backpacks from falling out the side as we struggle up and down the faces of low mountains on what I’m told are “roads”, though they are unpaved and narrow.
This 30 minute ride quickly turned into 2 hours of sitting in traffic and even perhaps more exciting, off roading it in the mud. When we weren’t stopped or inching forward and then stopping, we were looking for any and every short cut available. Once we rear-ended the car in front of us. Only slightly though, so it’s alright, right? Allison was brave enough (or by default) to take the front seat. She spent the drive slamming imaginary brakes from the passengers seat. Our driver, aware of the panicked look on two of our faces and the absolutely car sick look on the third face–the girl who had been sick for 2 weeks, was determined that we were going to make are flight or die trying.
Emphasis on the die trying part.
Every time there was a fork in the road, we took the one less traveled. And make all the difference it did, but with every choice my brain thought, surely that’s not a road, right? Usually my thoughts were right. We took it anyway. Including through many muddy, muddy areas and under a low rise bridge. I envisioned the car stalling (as it often did) or getting stuck in the mud, neither were far from possible. Even likely. I envisioned Allison and me, both 5’3″, having to get out and push our luggage, our driver trying to steer his way out, and our very sick friend in the car out of the mud and up the steep hill. Thank God that didn’t happen.
We arrive at the airport with exactly an hour before take off. Run like chickens with our heads cut off to find the right departure terminal and are greeting with a line to get in. Run to the counter, laden with 3 months worth of baggage and check in. Thank goodness they let us. We got boarding passes, hurried to fill out our exit documentation, and rushed through security and emigration. We arrived at our gate, grabbed a snack, and boarded the plane.
Thank goodness we were greeted by Thai Airways. Western toilets. A delicious gluten free meal. Comfy seats and free drinks. Then we arrived in Thailand whizzed through customs and currency exchange and found our hotel shuttle. We spend the evening with our friends from grad school, one who lives here and one who had a layover. It was almost like being in Washington DC and back to our weekly ritual of grabbing Thai food after class. It’s nice to have the comfort of familiar faces after traveling for so long.
We are back in the developed world. Well, almost.