The Land of Smiles

I’m here, I’m here! I made it! Here’s the journey thus far:

The Departure

I woke up before 6am on Thursday morning so I could drive over to Rich and Cathy’s before they left for work, where I would also say bye to my mom and Olivia (mama is little O’s caregiver for half of the week). I tell ya, that munchkin must of known I was leaving for a long time, because when I took her from my mom (sometimes it’s hard to peel her from her Nana) she came to me willingly and planted not one, not two, but THREE kisses on me, followed by a hug! Talk about the sweetest moment in life! If that’s not a tear inducer I don’t know what is. But those were the only tears, I’m glad to say.

My dad drove me to the airport and took me to security, where I shrugged off my down-filled jacket and surrendered my cell phone. He told me, once again, “I’m proud of you, Natalie.” I took a deep breath, stepped through security, got the pat down (as per usual – or is that standard now?), blew my dad a kiss, and walked on. Whatever sadness I felt was cured by the perfectly-timed two episodes of Modern Family I watched on the flight to Toronto.

I must say, the 13 hour flight to Beijing was beautiful. The most I had ever been on a plane at once was 8 hours, and though I have no fear of flying, sitting in a cramped jet for that long is just boring! Thankfully I got an aisle seat and there was no one beside me, so the ride was made much more comfortable.  After I’d finished watching three movies and ate a meal I took a glance at the map – still 7 hours to go! Whoa bear! It was about that time I decided to pop a Gravol. Unfortunately while removing my contact lenses I dropped the case – which was still open – and lost a brand new pair. Oops.

Asian Tourist

Once arriving in Beijing I decided to play tourist, because I figured that this was the most of China I was going to see on this trip! I had to go through security again, which was incredibly chaotic (as was boarding the plane – oh my!) but the terminal was quiet and peaceful. I roamed around most of the two hours, having virtually no concept of the time. On my clock it was around 5am, but Beijing time was 6pm. Time travel is trippy!

IMG_0459IMG_0465

Though the flight to Bangkok was only 4 hours it felt MUCH longer than the flight to Beijing. I attribute this to the anticipation mixed with the delayed departure, the old, cramped plane, and the freezing temperature on board.

Welcome to Bangkok!

Soi 6

Soi 6

Warmth! Yes! That’s the thought that went through my head the moment I stepped into the Thai air. The feeling quickly disappeared as soon as I took a seat in the taxi and found myself shivering from the cold blast of the air conditioning. That said, that was my only complaint about the taxi service. I was a little nervous about taking the taxi because I had been advised by various people that considering I was alone and it was late (1:30am by then) it wasn’t safe for me to take a public taxi. I was also told I should expect to be scammed into paying more. Thankfully none of that happened! ECPAT gave me a Thai map with the directions and whenever my taxi driver tried to ask me a question I just showed him the map. The only word I could distinguish was “Soi.” I knew that my apartment was in “Soi 6” (“Soi” means side street) so I just kept saying “six” and smiling a lot. He was pointing in various directions and I would say, “Left!” and “Right!” and he would start to laugh. I was beginning to wonder if he WAS scamming me, but when we made it to my apartment and it cost 200 baht less than what ECPAT told me to except to pay, I figured his confusion was genuine.

Things continued to go smoothly from there on out. The security guard was sitting outside at a desk at 2am. He greeted me, took my bags, handed me my keys (along with the internet password) and led me to the elevator.

Upon arriving in my room my first task was to call my dad. But when I started dialling the country code for Canada (001) and someone picked up on the other end, I realized that I just disturbed apartment number 1 at 2am. Sorry!

I sent a quick email to my family and then crawled into my king-sized bed for some much-needed sleep. That’s right, I have a king-sized bed. AND a futon. Which of course, begs the question…Visit me?

My “Hood”

I live in an area called “Ari” (pronounced “Aree”) just a few stops north of work and a couple more from the city centre. Ari is a great place to live. Just a couple minutes from my “Soi” is the BTS station (skytrain station) which bustles with activity. Once you cross the road there are various street vendors selling anything from fruit to jewellery to baked goods to Pad Thai. Yesterday I dined on Pad Thai for 30 baht (that’s $1 people!) and today I bought a bag of fresh, chopped pineapple for 20 baht. My doctor told me that I should refrain from eating street food the first couple of weeks, but I figured I have a pretty hardy digestive tract and decided to throw caution to the wind. So far so good!

balcany view 3 balcony view 1

I think that’s about all the updating I’ll do for now. I’m still extremely jet-lagged. Here in Bangkok we are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so while you’re just getting out of bed I’ve probably already had my supper. Have a great day my friends, and once again, thanks for all your care and encouragement!

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4 thoughts on “The Land of Smiles

  1. It’s so nice to read your blog, ‘cus even though we have spoken a few times already, it’s not possible to cover everthing – this way we get all the details! Hope you recover from your jet-lag soon.

    P.S. I am so envious that you get a cleaning service. I want one:) Oh yeah, I have Dad:):)

    Love ya lots:)

  2. Yay! You made it there safe & sound! Thanks for the update, it’s so exciting to hear about the beginning of your adventure. I’m praying for you :)

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