Thailand Travel Log: It's a Long Ride

March 31, 2004

The trip from Baton Rouge to Bangkok is definitely a long one. It was a good 27 hours from the time I arrived at the Baton Rouge airport until I got into the car to go to my parents' place.

The long flight was from Atlanta to Seoul. Fifteen hours from takeoff to landing. I thought of this as the Summer Olympic route, since those cities hosted the last two. They should go ahead and route the flight from Seoul to Athens, and then from Athens back to Atlanta and promote the Summer Olympic gimmick. Some fool or other would take it the whole route.

I couldn't get a window seat on this flight, and I was disappointed not to have a personal video screen on the back of the seat in front of me. However, I had an aisle, and no one in the seat next to me, so it wasn't too bad. I fell asleep immediately. I seem to have a real strange knack for dropping off during taxi and takeoff. It makes some people nervous, but relaxes me to the point that there's no staying awake. I know it's strange, but it happens all the time.

The Seoul airport is big and new and nice. It was there that I finally saw the sun go down -- 20 hours after it had illuminated the fog in Baton Rouge. What a long period of daylight. of course, since we had crossed the international date line, it was tomorrow's sunset. It gets kind of confusing if you let yourself think about it.

The flight to Bangkok wasn't nearly as long. It was 5 1/2 hours. Again I was asleep pretty good right after takeoff, but the stewardess woke me up to serve a plate of hot, soggy, tasteless vegetables. Since I had been served two similar plates on the first flight, and then gotten some pretty good food in Seoul, I wasn't too keen on that.

The guy next to me was a friendly ethnic Thai, who lived in Minnesota. American living had made him at least 40 pounds heavier than any Thai over here. He was enthusiastic about the news broadcast on the plane's video, and he encouraged me to don headphones, listen, and discuss the news with him. Nice as he was, the long trip had not been too good to the man's body oder. I thought he had farted when he first sat down, but I noticed the smell whenever he shifted around a lot. Fortunately, that didn't happen too often.

Finally in Thailand, I was ready to breeze through customs and get to my parents'. But, this new golf bag that Dad had me bring got me stopped and routed through the slow line of bureaucrats. Since it was new, they needed an import duty to be paid on it. They asked me how much it had cost in dollars, and then went through the following conversion on a basic calculator:

50 (I had told them it cost $50. I really have no idea what Dad paid, but I imagine it was more than that.)

  • 10 % --> calculator shows 55.
  • 30 (converting to bhat) % (calculator shows him 30 percent of 55 instead of 30 * 55). % (just to randomize the number some more)

At this point, he realizes that the number on the calculator makes no sense, so he started over.

50 1.1 39 (converting to bhat at a new exchange rate, I noticed) % (Oh damn! Someone needs to show this guy the = button) % (Nice and random looking again).

He looked at the calculator screen for a minute, and then announced that the duty on the golf bag was 500 bhat. I noticed that was a nice round number, given that his calculator was out to many decimal places of precision.

I had to go out into the crowd and find Mom and Dad to get 500 bhat to get my luggage through customs. I expected the golf bag to be up this morning making us waffles for all the trouble that it had been (this being just the finale of golf bag trouble), but alas, it was not.