University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2009

We arrived in bangkok last night about half an hour before it turned midnight. The hotel shuttle drove us past flickering relfections of fireworks in the river!

My traveling companion is 6 and a half feet tall, and it was a miracle that we were able to upgrade to Business class on the flight from JFK to Narita. We spent the whole time adjusting our lumbar massage functions, drinking sake, and eating the most amazing sushi and miso soup. I expect that this will be the most comfortable we will be throughout this trip. I don’t know how many times in the space of 15 hours two people can say “arigato gozaimas.”

We seemed to breeze through the “Passport Center” in the Bangkok airport. Great people-watching. We weren’t sure if we’d haavee time to go to the hotl and come back in time for the 9:15 am flight to Luang Pabang. We saw a man carrying the “Queen Garden Resort” sing nd asked how far away the hotel was… Oh, 10 minutes. It was exciting soaking up every darkened detail of Thai life outside the van windows until the landscape started to change a bit into what my frame of reference could only refer to as “Baltimore, the bad part.” The paved highway gave way to rocky dirt and huts cluttered the side o the roads. But then we saw the colorful strung lights and the hung orchids and my fleeting panic turned into guilt for being a bad, judgemental travelor.

It was now 1am and over the last 30 hour of taveling, we’d probably spent at least 20 either in a half-sleep or starng into space so we were wide awake. We decided to walk to “town” not knnowing there wan’t one. We made it about half a block past tthe accumulation of pllaasstic baskets and vegeetable crates, and about 5 stray dogs and a woman came ouut of her house expressly to tell us the worrd, “hotel.” She waved at thhe looming building above the shacks. “Hotel,” he said again. We said, “Yes, hotel.” And to help thins along I said, “Happy New Year,” and waved my handss in the air like I had invisible cheerleading pom poms in case this didn’t make any sense. But all we got was a frustrrated look and another, “hotel.” Rendered obtuse by the past 40 hours of torpor, we finally interpretted her wordss to mean, “Go back to the hotel if you don’t want to get eaten by the dogs.” And so we went.

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