Welcome to Bangkok!
2.9.10 85 °F
I woke up after a somewhat sleepless night as the stewardess was announcing our descent into Bangkok. The trip had been a turbulent one, not the flight itself, only my experience. I thought that I had gotten lucky after an airline attendant allowed me to switch my seat just after take off. I was originally squished between two people in a seat that would not recline and I was stoked when I was reassigned to a window seat with no one occupying the middle. The excitement wore off as I realized that I was the one outsider in a group of Indian frat boys who didn't understand the appropriate decibel level of conversation. After we left the runway, they turned off the cabin lights and I eventually started to nod off.
Right as I was slipping into oblivion the lights came blazing back on. They were serving dinner, something that normally would have excited me. We boarded the flight at 1 am, it was now around 3 and they were serving dinner?! Who eats dinner at 3 in the morning? Unless it is to sober you up for a drive home, I don't get it.
The lights were up the rest of the night as were the frat boys around me. My eyes started getting heavy again just as turbulence hit, not the plane, just my seat. One of the guys behind me must have been playing Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots with my seat, because I was gyrating like a Grand Mal. My death glare did nothing to deter them from acting like jackasses so I did my best to ignore them.
We got off the plane, passed through customs, and collected our bags from the carousal. I almost didn't recognize the pack I'd been carrying around for two months. As it rotated towards me, I noticed that it was my bag, only covered in dust and dirt. It looked like someone pulled it out of the plane, threw it on the ground and ran in place on top of it. I was a little peeved but realized we had a bigger problem when we pulled Max's bag off the line. His was saturated with some sort of oil that smelled like curry and dripped down the whole front. He was more than pissed. Why? Why now, at six am after no sleep did I have to deal with this? And why did it have to smell like curry of all things?! I thought India had screwed me over for the last time, but no, it took one more opportunity to cause me grief! After examining his bag, Max decided that he wanted to talk to the airline. His expensive bag was possibly ruined and reeked of curry and we still had another month to schlep it around.
We trekked to the farthest corner of the airport, conveniently in the exact opposite direction of where we were, and entered the Jet Airways customer service office. We explained our situation to the woman in charge and showed her the evidence. She got on the phone, called the baggage handlers, exchanged a few words in Thai and hung up. "It will be about twenty minutes before they can assess your situation", she said with a smile. We waited. Finally the phone rang, words were exchanged and she hung up. She informed us that she had spoken to the baggage department and that they will not grant a complaint. She explained that because there was no liquid in the baggage cart, the leak must have been the result of another bag and that Jet Airways has no responsibility. "They have denied your request to file a complaint" is the part that threw me for a loop. How can you deny me the right to file a complaint. Isn't that my right as a customer? I guess not.
We carted our soiled putrid baggage back across the airport to an ATM Kiosk to grab some Baht. I stuck my card in, entered in the amount, grabbed my money and walked away.
I forgot a step. I forgot, probably the most important step, get your card back. To take my stupidity a step further, I will not realize that I have left my card for another eight hours. This is what happens to Emily when she doesn't get sleep, her IQ plummets and she is left with the intellectual capacity of a cactus.
We hopped into a cab and got dropped off at our hotel. The cab drove off just as I realized that I had left my prized North Face fleece in the backseat. I needed sleep.
I went up to the room and was comatose within minutes.
It wasn't until I woke from hibernation that I was able to appreciate the allure of our new hotel. DS 67 Suites was the hotel name and it was the nicest hotels we have stayed in yet. The hotel had a very cool, modern vibe and employed an extremely helpful, competent staff. The bedroom was an eye-catcher complete with a bright pink wall, lime green headboard and a large decal of a young Asian girl saying hello in many different languages.
The blinding colors and tacky decorations were a fun change from the barren un-themed rooms I'm used to. The lobby had a reception and internet area that was attached to a coffee house so after I rose from my slumber, I headed down for a cup of java. I was pleasantly surprised at the generous stature of my polka dotted glass and the free cookies I received as a complementary snack.
After I was done with my coffee it was time for food. My breakfast was nothing more than a meager helping of snores, so I was hungry for a big meal. We walked down the street about a half mile before we came upon any sort of edibles. We walked hesitantly into what looked like a mall complex with different eatery advertising gracing the front. We walked inside past the Sizzler and McDonald's and up an escalator to a level that looked a little less like a food court. A sign lit up my eyes with the neon words "Sushi Buffet" and the decision was made.
I walked into a sushi lovers dream restaurant. It was a wonderland of sushi, with so many different things to look at, I didn't know where to start.
First off, there was the buffet, which was a work of art in and of itself. At the head of the line sat Vegetables and shrimp, deep fried tempura style with an array of dipping sauces for my ultimate enjoyment. Next were a colorful collage of rolls; shrimp, cucumber, eel, squid, caviar topped, seaweed wrapped, spicy or sweet. I helped myself to a heaping pile that included one of each! Next were the salads. I had a choice between seaweed salad and a green salad topped with sweet Ginger dressing. I chose both.
I returned to my table as the waitress approached to explain the rest of the buffet and answer all of my questions. With a buffet, you'd think the explanation would be fairly minimal; get a plate, help yourself, eat. This was no ordinary buffet. The first thing that tipped me off was the platters of raw meat and veggies that were rotating around the restaurant. Small plates of lettuce, baby corn, cabbage, liver, beef, bacon, and other unrecognizable raw meat floated by on a large conveyor belt strategically placed in front of each place setting.
As I sat down my plate of rolls I noticed a large boiling pot of soup bubbling on a burner right next to my plate. The waitress explained that this is how I make my own soup. She showed me where I could adjust the temperature of the soup and let me know that the items drifting by in front of me were available for whatever soup concoction I desired. For a little more flavor she pointed to a caboodle of sauces containing ginger, chili oil, and garlic which I could dabble in, as well.
I was overwhelmed with excitement! I felt like I was in Willy Wonkas chocolate factory, except with raw fish instead of sweets. It was Emily Michele and the sushi factory!
I felt like a kid in a candy store picking up random foods and throwing them into my boiling cauldron of glory without a care in the world. With no regard for flavor combinations, in went an egg, some cabbage, a little fish, a little I dunno what, a spoonful of chili oil, garlic, and a little soy sauce for the hell of it.
I munched on my delicious sushi rolls while my soup simmered. Between bites I'd stir away and contemplate adding more ingredients until it was time to eat.
The soup turned out great and I was impressed with my masterpiece! I was thoroughly entertained through the whole meal. I don't understand why we don't have these in the states!? It seems like it would be such a hit!
After I was done with my personally prepared perfection, I headed over to the ice cream station for the cherry on top.
Strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate; a harmonic trio lounging together inside the bowl before making the journey into my belly. What a tasty journey it was.
About the time that I went to pay for the beautiful buffet was when I realized that my ATM card was M.I.A. My
mind was racing. I was speeding down a one-way street toward Panicsville and I made sharp left at pity parkway before I reached my self-loathing destination.
I made sure that my ATM card hadn't been used before I called the airport to try and track it down. I don't do this sort of moronic move often but I have slipped into the same sort of genius before. When I was living in Dallas I used an ATM drive through except I drove through without getting my card back. When I realized it 20 minutes later, it was too late. Bank of America informed me that it "ate" my card and the only thing I could do is get a new one. It was easy. There was a Bank Of America on every block. Here its a little different. Where the hell am I supposed to find a bank of America in Thailand!? I wouldn't even embarrass myself by asking that question.
I decided to try my luck with the Bangkok International Airport customer service department. My fingers were crossed and my expect ions low as I was transferred from one person to the next trying to figure out what the American lady wanted. I tried to explain which ATM I left my card in, but my lack of observation was astonishing.
"I don't know what floor it was on but it was next to a coffee shop I think... And next to a bank. Ya, a coffee shop and a bank." I said sounding less intelligent with every word muttered.
Do you remember the name of the ATM?
Um, no. Wait! Let me check and see if I got a receipt!
(a few minutes later)
Nope, forgot that too.
Do you remember the color of the ATM.
Was it purple or-
Oh. Ya it could have been blue...
Maybe it was blueish-purple, like a periwinkle shade.
She told me that she would try to locate the card and promised to call the hotel if she found it. I hung up the phone feeling like I just wasted the last twenty minutes trying to shove a square peg in a round hole ( I'm sure the same way that the operator felt dealing with such a shockingly ditsy foreigner).
I was elated when I promptly received a follow-up phone call informing me of the whereabouts of my Visa. The ease of the transaction was amazing. All I had to do was cab it back down to the airport with my passport in hand and pick it up from a conveniently placed ATM kiosk. This seemed too good to be true, and I was waiting for something to go terribly wrong, but it never did. My card and I were reunited and it felt so good.
To celebrate we decided to go put my card to work and rack up some drink charges at a local bar. Our hotel was a ways away from any substantial nightlife, so after a half hour of walking we decided to settle for the first bar we found.
As we turned the corner an Irish pub appeared lit up with Guinness signs and neon beer specials. Perfect. We walked in and were instantly pleased. This three story pub greeted us with a long wraparound bar in the first level, leather couch lounging on the second story and a game room on the top. We ordered drinks and headed up to the game room for some friendly competition. Complete with a dart and shuffle boards, Foosball and Golden Tee, this bar had all the nostalgia of my favorite bars back home.
We downed some whiskey and a few beers, threw a couple games of darts and made up our own rules for shuffleboard. We munched on some complementary bruschetta chips with delicious pesto dressing.
It seemed like it couldn't get any better, until the impossible happened.
The flickering big screen in front of our table landed on the perfect channel. I could hardly believe my eyes. Is that football I see!? It is! The Cowboys/Bengals preseason game! Who cares if the season hasn't started yet. Who cares if it's not the Chargers playing! It's football! And I like the cowboys anyway! And it's football! For seven months I've been missing my favorite sport and now it's back! For once I can watch a game that doesn't involve players kicking a ball. I get to watch huge men pummel each other for praise instead of wussie futbol fairies who fall over and cry at the slightest bit of contact. I like my athletics with a side of brutality and this kind of brain bashing manliness is just the football I was looking for!
Suddenly our competition came to a screeching halt. I could concentrate on nothing else. We parked our butts on the bar stools and watched the game, infatuated with every play. We were bantering back and forth like Sports Center adding our own comedic commentary when necessary.
I had to sit back and laugh at what a multicultural salad I was tossed in. Here I was sitting in an Irish pub in Bangkok Thailand drinking German beer and smoking Nepalese cigarettes while watching American football. What a worldly experience!
After a few rounds of whiskey and beer I was craving some sort of fourth meal snack. For those of you not familiar with "fourth meal" I will explain. Fourth meal is the meal between dinner and breakfast. It is typically eaten between one and four am to cure drunkenness and/or future hangovers. 24 hour taco shops specialize in fourth meal and cater to the after hour hunger pangs of inebriated individuals who just have to have a taco.
I was one of those inebriated individuals and I wanted food. Unfortunately there is a shortage of taco shops in Bangkok so we searched for any edibles we could find. After walking for way too long, we finally stumbled upon a McDonald's where I proceeded to stoop way below my normal standard of eating.
It was interesting, as it always is, to scrutinize the foreign menu.
Along with the typical cheeseburger and chicken nuggets they offered a "Samurai Pork Burger", KFC style fried chicken and a tuna pie hot pocket.
I played it safe and got a grilled chicken sandwich which consequently made my stomach turn as soon as it passed through my esophagus. I fell asleep regretting my McDonald's field trip, as I assumed I would.
- SIDENOTE: The show I was working on at AMS Pictures in Dallas TX, entitled "Ma's Roadhouse", premieres on September 15th at 9pm! http://www.trutv.com/shows/mas-roadhouse/index.html
From Executive Producer Andy Streitfeld and AMS Pictures, comes Ma's Roadhouse a new reality show on TrueTV!
Rick Fairless is the owner of Strokers Dallas, a Texas motorcycle shop, tattoo parlor and biker bar. His greatest asset is his 71-year-old mother, who's also his best, but most outspoken, employee. Can Rick keep his business afloat? And can Ma keep her hands off the bartender?
I wish I could be there to watch it with all the hardworking people at AMS but at least, by then, I will be back in the states and watching intently from my TV at home You guys rock!