Steve and Jemjahn go to Thailand, 2003
3. Bangkok at Last
We landed at Bangkok a few minutes after midnight. Amazing, to fly from the other side of the world, change planes at two airports, and arrive within ten minutes of the announced time.
For the record, weíd left Augusta at 0930 on December 6, and arrived at 0005 on December 8, with a day lost crossing the international time line. All things considered, it had been a fine trip. Sure could have been a lot worse.
Now then, how would we get to Korat? Would Jemís family find us at the airport? Or would we spend the night wandering the airport until dawn?
After retrieving our suitcases (with no security check two years after 9/11), we entered a waiting area full of people standing behind crowd control ropes. Most were from hotels, holding up signs for their tourist guests.
Jem waves, and in the crowd I see a hand wave back.
We were picked up by Jemís sister Sangjahn and her husband Samahn. Also present was another sister, Jang, and Sompahn, her husband. The owner of the rented van was also there. Why, I donít know, maybe to see the unusual visitors.
The van was a new Toyota Commuter, a vehicle Iíve not seen in America. As its name declares, itís perfect for transporting a group of people, up to ten plus a driver. Its diesel engine is as quiet as a gas model, and its manual transmission was shifted so smoothly I had to check to see if it wasnít in fact an automatic.
This van had been bought by a villager to be rented, mostly to other villagers and typically on a daily basis. How he will make his money back I have no idea. Then again, when I look at most commercial businesses, it escapes me how they can be profitable, much less make the billions of dollars theyíre sometimes sold for. Iím so lucky I made my lifeís career in the Army, where profit and loss have never been on a meetingís agenda.
We paid 1,700 baht, a little more than $40, to be picked up and brought to the village. That might not be a bad business if the van were regularly rented, but most days, as we later saw, it stayed parked.
At that time of night, the 4-hour drive from the airport to Kokpra Village was on empty roads. Of course I wasnít sleepy, with 3 AM in Thailand being 3 PM back in Georgia. I peered out the window the whole way.
next: The King's Birthday