Day 2? 3? Drat that dateline…

I updated the clock on my computer from US Pacific Standard Time to Thailand time, and it jumped from 11:20 a.m. Sunday to 1:20 a.m. Monday. Too tired to do the math, but I got up at 5 a.m. Saturday and now I’m going to bed for a few hours. So, long day.

Flight out of Seattle was delayed; there’s a runway under repair at San Francisco so our departure was delayed an hour and a half to make sure we’d get a good place in line to land. At San Francisco I ran off the plane, ran to catch my next flight (another inspection by the Homeland Security Blanket, for your your convenience) made it barely in time, and hoped really hard that my checked bags would make the transfer.

Then during the takeoff checklist apparently the altimeter broke, and to fix it they had to remove a cargo container, so we left late. Thirteen hours later got to Taipei just as my flight to Bangkok was about to start boarding, at a terminal on the other end of the airport. They assigned a guide to walk us through this enormoriffic maze of an airport and got me on the plane just in time. Still hoping reeeeally hard that my checked luggage would follow me.

Bangkok: Incredibly, my checked luggage arrived! Thank God! It’s all the supplies Father Seraphim needs for Communion: Bread, wine, chalice, paten, stole, pitons, batarangs, china service for twelve with fingerbowls, Vespa motorscooter, satellite dish, elk antlers. Also a passel of books, icons, books, sundries, things Father Seraphim emailed to ask for, and also books. Porters everywhere smile and take my bags, then cry out as the hernia fairy claims them for her own.

Like every third world airport, at Bangkok you step out of Customs and eleventy zillion taxi and limo drivers try to get your attention. But it’s different here; as I run the taxi gauntlet I keep shaking my head and saying “Novotel shuttle” and every single taxi tout politely points me to the Novotel pickup lane. Nice. Strange.

They drive on the left in Thailand. Somebody please make them stop that.

The Thais seem to be about a ten on the royalism scale. Might just be a marketing thing, but every time I turn around it’s royal this and king’s that. And here and there the sides of buildings show huge portraits of the king looking regal and kindly. Big Brother Feels Vaguely Benevolent Toward You.

The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel is sort of a Thai version of Casear’s Palace. It’s got that same nouveau-riche marble-brass-glass-chrome tackiness, with an added level of Thai grace and beauty that almost works. But not quite.

Way more scraping and bowing than I’m used to. My egalitarian American DNA makes me want to talk to a concierge or bellman as my equal with whom I’m doing business; they’re all quite comfortable taking the me-servant, you-master role.

In my hotel room there’s a room-service wine menu that says on one side “Don’t leave the room without me” and on the other “Please do not remove from room.” I am paralyzed. Norman, coordinate!

And there’s Wi-Fi. So that’s all right then.

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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