Hot dog water and mystery meat


Sometimes, when things are at their worst, the best thing to do is leave the country.

Which is precisely what DP and I did in 2009, following a string of unfortunate events that led both of us (independently) feeling like shingles blown off by a tornado and deposited unceremoniously on a steaming heap of cow poo, hundreds of miles from home.

A year before this trip, we sat down and made a pact: no matter what, we save every penny and by next year, we get the hell out of here.

It didn’t feel like running away, even though there was plenty of reason to do so.  A more accurate description might be running towards something real – a life of freedom in the fullest sense of the word.

It was totally a blind leap of faith.

Having been platonic friends for 7 years prior to this adventure, we would soon learn what it meant to rely on one another. By the end of the trip, we came to the conclusion that you don’t truly know a person until you’ve been in a foreign country with them.  For some people, that can be disastrous – for us, it was a revelation.

I rue the fact that I didn’t keep as accurate a log of this trip as I did when visiting Laos with my mom.  It just seemed like too much was going on all the time, and neither one of us were actually there on vacation anyway.  What made the trip possible was that we both were completing internships, mine in Public Health and his in Exercise Science (he is the only person I know who has 3 credit hours for Independent Study: Muay Thai).

We had friends in Chiang Mai who would help us get settled.  After a horrendously long journey, we spent one night in Bangkok (cue music) before the last leg of the trip.

Looking for the showers at Narita Airport

$40 will get two travelers a shuttle to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport, a double room at the SP Power Lodge with A/C and heated showers, one Thai massage (that I surrendered to DP, on threat of pain or death), and breakfast.

All night, I could hear my mother’s warnings, which she reiterated many times leading up to the trip and during our goodluck ceremony (suukuan):

Don’t trust anyone but each other.
Be careful where you eat.
Stay away from the Red Shirt rallies.
Don’t trust anyone but each other.

The neighborhood seemed seedy, and we were coated in a layer of grease – but we made it to Thailand!  From the hotel balcony, you couldn’t see much of the city, especially since a brownish haze tinted the air.  What I remember most was the smell: the unmistakable odor of hot dog water.

Bangkok will always smell like hot dog water to me, and there is nothing I can do about it.

In the morning, we presented vouchers at the cafe downstairs and sat down to a relatively Western breakfast.  The only questionable items were two sticks of what looked like Vienna sausages and a pale slice of unidentified processed meat (UPM).  I surrendered these to DP as well, and the only reason he ate them was because he was delirious and starving.

Next stop: Chiang Mai.


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