Thursday, April 9, 2009

At Least it Happened on the Way Home. . . .

The night-bus back to Bangkok was a bit depressing as all the people shared stories about where they were off to, with Ko Phangan being the favorite of our group.

We arrived in Bangkok back on Khao San road and immediately fell asleep.
We only had a few hours left before we had to go to the airport, so did some last-minute shopping and repacked our bags. We now have our original two backpacks, my daypack, a large black duffel bag, a white/pink roller suitcase and matching smaller bag, Leslie’s daypack bag, the “northface” bag from Hoi An we used to carry our suits and a larger backpack to use as the “carryon” for the plane. Believe it or not, we got all our stuff into the duffel, suitcase, two backpacks and carry-ons so we do not have to pay a fine :)
We were a sight with all of the bags being carried at once with the two of us. Finally, the “where you going?” and “buy my suit” lines dissappeared. Instead we got “going home?” and “have good flight”.
Our negotiation with the taxi driver showed how far our negotiating has come. It was obvious we were going to the airport and knew the price should be 400. I asked him how much and he said “650″.
“How about 600?” he replied. “How about 400?” I asked. “550?” he tried. At that point we left Leslie with the bags and I went to look for another taxi. “400 okay” he then said.
We knew that the “red shirts”, which are a political group supporting ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra were supposed to be protesting that day, so we left rather early. Thaksin had called for protest on that specific day. I think he was just trying to screw us up ;)
The “yellow shirts” are their opposition and had shut down the airport a few weeks before we came in and as a result we were nervous about what we’d see.
Turns out there were some scattered red shirts that were very peaceable. Our driver was wearing a red shirt as well. He warned us that it would take awhile due to the massive protest. I think he hoped the protests were larger than they were.
As a result, we got to the airport VERY early. It’s a good thing too. We checked in and got some food. About two hours before the flight we went looking for our gate.
One of our tricks for keeping the weight of our checked baggage down was putting the heavy stuff into our carry-ons. My carry-on now weighs more than my entire pack in Chaing Mai. As a result, we had a cart to push around our backpacks. The cart was like one of those small shopping carts at the grocery store. There was an advertising panel on the side of the cart. It was shaped kind of like the letter “D” except half the width. The corners on top and bottom were abou 40% angles and “held on” by screws.
Leslie said “come here”, so I turned and dragged the cart behind me over towards her. Suddenly, the advertising sign became disengaged on the bottom, swung forward and caught me on the right side of my ankle sinking 3/4 of an inch in and almost to the bone. Ever had someone run into your heels with a shopping cart? It was like that except instead of a bar it was more of a blunt knife. The impact was enough that it knocked the sign the rest of the way off the cart.
I did okay at first and checked for our first aid kit, which we’d conveniently checked. I saw an information booth and limped over, standing in line. We got to the front and the woman got me some cotton swabs and alcohol. I started providing pressure while on my feet and then slowly sunk to the ground. Then, the parade started.
First, a manager for the airport showed up. He took one look and made a phone call. The someone from the airport hospital showed up with a wheelchair. At first I didn’t want it, but quickly realized it was necessary.
The four of us were off to the internal airport hospital. We were joined by two nurses and soon a doctor. I was rather impressed with the efficiency as the nurse quickly started cleaning the wound. A few minutes later the doctor showed up and said I’d need to be sutured. He asked Leslie if she had problems with blood. If so she could leave. I asked him if she could stay and I could leave.
The wound isn’t very wide, but pretty deep. I don’t know how many stitches I ended up with but I think it’s two layers of three or four. First, he gave me a shot right on the ankle-bone to numb the thing, That hurt.
After the stitches he asked where I was from. I told him I was from the US and he said that US insurance usually doesn’t cover people for more than 1 month overseas. He then stepped outside to look something up and when he returned, he informed me that Bankok airport would pick up the tab.
I hobbled out of the room, trying to walk and noticed that the crowd had multiplied to about 15 people. A nurse was presenting a wheelchair, which I again was grateful for.
There was about 5 people from the doc’s office, two nurses and a few administrators. There were representatives of Bangkok airport who were getting prepared to whisk us across the airport. There was representatives of Asiana. One I recognized as manager of the check-in counter and a few I didn’t recognize. They informed me that they’d hold the plane for me. (WOW!)
There were a few guys I didn’t know where they were from, but I think one was from the legal department judging by his clothes. Suing over something like this is not our style though, it was a random accident as far as I’m concerned and when the manager asked me if there was anything else he could do I said that he could make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else.
Finally, there was Sepawot (or something like that). He was maybe 50, wearing some sort of fancy uniform that looked to me like a mark of authority. He also was talking, making everyone laugh and basically acting like a good manager. He got me some water and made sure there was a motor vehicle coming. He was constantly rubbing my shoulders, which I think was supposed to be comforting but was really kinda weird. Leslie still had the original cart and someone had gotten another cart that had the bottom part of the advertising sign disengaged like ours was right before the incident.
After the nurse had given me directions for the meds (anti-biotics, anti-swelling, pain) they whooshed us into the motor-vehicle and took off across the airport. We made it with about three minutes before scheduled takeoff.
Unfortunately, this leg of the flight was full, so I could not elevate my foot and as a result this was an incredibly painful flight. However, Asiana did their best and would help me as much as possible. Too bad extra customer service couldn’t remove the pain.
Have we mentioned how much we love Asiana Airlines? The next thing that absolutely blew us away was the fact that they put us up in a free hotel because our layover was more than 8 hours. Big thanks to Ron, whos’ my Seattle Sounders FC buddy from for tipping us off about that.
We got off the plane and they again had a wheelchair waiting for me as Leslie carried all of our extra-heavy baggage. They whisked us into a mini-van to the hotel with eight others from the flight. Once we realized that one guy was from Renton and another from Lacey we decided we were again surrounded by Cascadians of the Pacific Northwest and it was time to stop telling everyone we were from Seattle, as others now knew where Bellingham and Lacey were.
The hotel was BY FAR the nicest hotel we’d seen this entire trip. It had a flat-screen TV with HDTV, a computer inthe room, a shower with eight shower heads and an electric steam room. To top it off, everything was Korean, which is definitely part of the first world. As a result, there were odd things happening every once in awhile. When I turned on the light switch a video game “you’ve turned on the nintendo” type noise started. Turning the lights off at night produced a “game over” type noise.
I was still in a great deal of pain and Leslie doesn’t sleep well on train, planes or automobiles, so we hit the sack for a few hours before taking advantage of the free buffet lunch.
Pride is definitely a down-fall of mine and I continued to try and get myself around as much as possible. This was at odds with the staff of the hotel who wanted to push me everywhere. Eventually, I did okay at resigning myself to the fact that I should allow them to do their job.
We then came to the realization that we had “misread” our itinerary. We thought we were going to land on the 8th, but it was actually the 9th. I’ll claim that it wasn’t my fault because the guy who we changed the flight with didn’t speak much English.
Me: “What time do we land?”
Airline guy: “You confirmation number is CN392002″
Me: “No, when do we get to Seattle?”
Airline guy: “You confirmation number is CN392002″
Me: “Thank you.”
I called Dad and he said that they’d figured it out as it was already 10pm on the West Coast. We felt really bad, but there wasn’t much we could do. Aunt Lynn made me feel better because she said my Uncle Bill (who’s traveled all over the world, and quite often) has made the same mistake.
The hotel and airline did a tag-team of helping me get to the plane as Leslie hoofed all of our carry-on items along.
Fortunately, this time the plane wasn’t too full so both Leslie and I got three chairs to lay down and I could elevate my leg. I could again see strangers talking and about half the accents were ours. The amount of beards had multiplied, people were being friendly and talkative for no good reason and I saw a few pairs of birkenstocks. When I heard an Asian man speak with our accent I knew we were almost home.
Funny enough, when we got off the plane in SeaTac, Mr. Huong who worked for the airport rushed to help me. He was born in Vietnam but lived in West Seattle and loved talking about our experiences. He had been here for about 15 years, but used to live by the Mekong Delta. “How much is pho now?” was his first question.
It took awhile to get our baggage, but it wasn’t too bad. Customs were really easy, too. It was more difficult than most of the Asian countries, but not as bad as we expected. That could be because I was in a wheelchair though.
We hopped in SeaTac Airport’s underground train and whisked off to reception. Leslie went marching up the stairs as I heard a “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” that was obviously Mom as I waited for the elevator. I shared it with a woman back to the war who had an “I REALLY don’t want to go look on her face.” I wished her luck.
As we came around the corner I saw Mom and Aunt Lynn holding and waving Seattle Sounders and chatting with Leslie. Everyone had a big smile on their face.
After getting the stuff in the car, Mom rushed us to the thing that we missed most about the USA . . . . . Mexican food.
We absolutely loved the trip and will do something similar again in the future, but it’s really good to see family and friends again.
I’m heading to the doc today to get my ankle checked out. Also, big news for those who haven’t heard is Michael asked Jenn to marry him in Hawaii so my l’il sister will soon be a Boehm.
This is likely the last blog entry until we get ourselves out on the road again. Next up is finding a spot to live in Bellingham, returning to work on at RidgeStar for me, job hunting for Leslie and the wedding in August.

Thanks for reading and we love you all!
Sawasdee, khrap,
Bryan and Leslie

No comments:

Post a Comment