The Bangkok Chronicles: Thursday, August 23 – Saturday, August 25

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Lea and I flew out of Boise at 9PM Thursday, headed for Seattle. Travelling this late in the day, there was no line to get through security, so of course everyone would get the pleasure of going through the body scanner. I opted out for the pat-down, for which I had to say to the TSA officer: “Be gentle. It’s my first time.” It took a surprisingly long time, with very redundant methods. The fact is though that I could easily sneak a prohibited item past this screening. It’s hard to believe that anyone actually thinks that what the TSA does is for the purpose of security.

It would be in Seattle that we would wait for 16 hours for our flight to Seoul. We passed the time quite well, spending the first hour trying to recover her checked luggage (the layover was so long that they wouldn’t be able to store it until the transfer to the next flight) and pay $9 for someone to hold on to it. We sat in a Starbucks which fortunately served tap water so I didn’t have to pay $4 for a bottle of Fuji. After doing a quick Udacity lesson (which I would highly recommend checking out), we started to read the Hunger Games together. What I at first thought was a teeny-bopper book due to its popularity turned out to be something better than I expected. I’m pretty hooked. I also spent a couple of hours finishing a letter to my dear grandmother in Berthold, North Dakota. Shout out to you, Grandma.

We went on to find a place to sleep in the Seattle airport. This was surprisingly hard to do. The only airport that I’ve slept in overnight was the San Francisco one, and this was made easier by the fact that one could lay out on its furniture. Unfortunately, Seattle had no such forethought, and nearly all its seats were divided by armrests. I tried sleeping sitting up, which didn’t work for me at this point. I then found a table and rested my head on it. This was slightly more comfortable, but I couldn’t release consciousness. So I laid out on the marble floor. I was able to fall asleep but woke up frequently, often to the Gestapo playing every 10 minutes on the PA system: “If you see something, say something.” We later found seating without the armrests (the only piece I found of its type) and were able to spread out on that. Sadly, it still had metal dividers between the seats and sleeping was rough.

Upon waking up, we decided to get cleaned up and head into downtown Seattle for a bit. We took the train and ended up perusing through Pike’s Market. The place I really wanted to see, Chinatown, ended up being cancelled due to time shortages.

We got back to the airport and through security, headed to Seoul. With the greater traffic through the TSA cattle lines, I was able to go through a metal detector instead of a porno-scanner or groping. But on my way to the plane, I moved past a K9 and its handler. Not sure if they were searching for drugs or currency. For some reason the elderly Korean in front of me was stopped for questioning. I, myself, was stopped by what I believe to have been a U.S. Customs agent who asked me where I was going, if I was a student, and how much cash I had on me. This renewed my resolve to make sure that I won’t be victimized by capital controls or precious metal confiscation. Protect your wealth.

It was quite a long flight to Seoul; about 11 hours, I believe. Attempting to get in tune with the culture, I watched a silly Korean movie called, “Dancing Queen.” It is about a Seoul man who is a civil rights attorney and is persuaded to run for mayor. His wife secretly pursues a career as a pop star. I do like that in the debates between the protagonist and his competing candidates that he acknowledges that government bureaucrats have no idea how to run the lives of anyone else. But then when he said he would surround himself with experts and used the platitude of trying to get everyone’s input in coming up with a solution, it seemed less powerful. Strangely, what led to a drop in his popularity was the revelation that his wife is a dancing girl. Maybe this isn’t so strange. The public’s opinions on political figures are based on irrational thing. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend this movie.

Interestingly, at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, we had to go through security to make a transfer. However, security here is not nearly as demeaning as in the U.S. There were no naked scanners or pat-downs, no taking off shoes or belts. I did, however, get the bottle of water given to me on the flight taken away. Can’t have it all, I guess.

The last leg of the trip, from Seoul to Bangkok, was pretty rough for me. I was very tired and choosing to wear long pants was a mistake. I have trouble napping on airplanes (or anywhere while sitting up). I’m very glad I wouldn’t have to make the return trip for months.

We arrived at the southeast Bangkok airport and took a taxi to our current residence at Escape at Sathorn Terrace. Bangkok is a gigantic town. I have a hard time telling what the “downtown” section is because the skyscrapers go on and on. Our landlord, Tor, was very polite and generous in greeting us at nearly midnight. His English is very good, but he talks quickly and I can’t quite pick up everything. He bid us goodnight and I slept like a rock.

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