My hands were shaking as I tore through my bags searching…..
One final look confirmed my fear, I had arrived in Bangkok airport minus one travel journal. I would rather have lost my entire backpack instead of this journal which contained all my new friends’ contact info, my thoughts, experiences, and every adventure from my trip.
Immediately my brain went into disaster recovery mode…which it has done often on this trip. I glanced at my watch, the time was 22:00. My flight was not until 01:30am so I had some time. I decided that it was a long shot, but I would ring Suk11, the hostel where I had spent the previous night and see if they had maybe found it. First, I had to get the number. Phone books are out of the question in Thailand, so I glanced around the room until I spotted a Chinese man using his laptop. I approached him and tried what little Mandarin I know.
“Ni hau ma?”
He looked up from his work.
I asked, ” Ni shau Yingwen ma?”
He replied “Bu Shr” which meant no, he did not speak English. Oh well, it was back to charades, which I have become an expert at over the past few months. I pointed to his laptop and gave him a wai gesture with my palms together. He turned it around for me. A couple minutes later after switching Windows from Mandarin to English, I had the URL and phone number for Suk11.
I found a payphone and rang the hostel. After a few moments, the woman came back with incredible news….yes, they had found my missing journal in my room! I ran outside, grabbed a cab (actually in Bangkok, you do not hail cabs…they hail you.) and opened the door. I asked the guy how much to Sukhumvitt road soi 11, he asked me “What do you want to pay?”. I low-balled him and said 300 Baht, expecting the painful negotiating to begin. It was at least a 45 minute drive and there were quite a few toll booths along the way. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said “OK”. My mouth dropped open and I wondered what alternate universe I had stepped out of the airport exit doors into….a taxi driver that didnt want to haggle? WTF?
I hopped in and he finished his Redbull he was sipping and off we went at about 120KMH. He was cutting corners, buzzing pedestrians, and holding his horn. It was the wildest taxi ride I have been on in 3 months. Even the tuk-tuk drivers, which are crazy bastards themselves, were scurrying to get out of this madman’s way. I was starting to think that he was strong with the force until I glanced down and saw the half dozen empty Redbull bottles clanking around in the floorboard. He was high as a kite on Thai Redbull, which comes in little glass bottles and is illegal in the US for whatever FDA inspired reason. He got me back to Suk11 in about 40 minutes, double parked, and I ran inside to collect my journal. I was back outside in less than 2 minutes and we were off again to the airport, at an insane pace. The guy even got pulled over for a 50Baht ticket, which he paid the officer in cash on the spot. He said he got one every day so it did not matter. We arrived back at the airport just before midnight and I tipped him an extra 100 Baht for his ticket and the trouble…he deserved it.
After getting through passport control and giving up the 500 Baht airport fee, I was half asleep at my gate with time to spare. 23 hours of flying later and I was hugging my parents in the Orlando, Florida airport back in the US. I cannot put into words how strange it feels to be home already. I am very happy to see family, but damn I miss traveling and being with people from other countries already…people that I can relate to and connect with.
I will continue my blog probably for a few days as I readjust to being at home, it may interest other travelers that are facing similar fates in the near future. Plus, I am not “home” yet…I am in Orlando. Home of Mickey Mouse and the vortex of corporate American packaged touristy hell. I’m sure I will find something to write about while I am here. 🙂