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one night in Bangkok: We flew all day to get to Bangkok. First we had to get up around 6 am to get to the airport and fly domestic to Mumbai. Our first glitch came at check in, when they informed us our carry on luggage was too heavy. We had two small suitcases and two backpacks for 3 seats. That seems fine to me. So we put all the heavy stuff in our backpacks, since they don't weigh those, threw a small fit, and then they allowed us not to check anything. Flight was late so we only had a two-hour layover in Mumbai. Once there, we were shuttled from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. That took about an hour. Then immigration, security again, and made it to our flight just in time for boarding.

The second plane to Bangkok was weird. No first class. We were on the second row, which was nice. The plane was overloaded with white people; I haven't seen so many in months, eight to be exact. This flight seemed to last forever, even if it was only 4.5 hours. I tried to watch teevee, but I couldn't get the gist of the channels. I did manage to watch an old school season 1 Simpsons episode and also struggled through an episode of some show called "How I met your mother." Susie watched some Bollywood flik.

Finally in Bangkok at dusk. They have these odd escalators that take you halfway down a level, level out for about 20 paces, then continue on down again. The airport is huge and we got lost, but managed to find a Dunkin Donuts for some much needed sustenance before our trek into town.

Susie and I have been trying to decide what aspects of Bangkok are similar to the Kong, India, Malaysia, and distinct to Thailand itself. On first blush the city seemed like India: the taxis are green and yellow like an auto in India, and they also paint the curbs black and white here. But the comparison quickly ended. Unlike India, Bangkok has FREEWAYS! Without potholes! Without speedbumps! And people have lane discipline. And people don't honk their horns. Amazing!

We got to our hotel around 8:30 and checked in and couldn't have been happier. The hotel is in the middle of the shopping district, next to the Skytrain, had carpet, a couch for Maggie to sleep on, a cot for Dalton, lots of space, and a bathtub! Which I used every night! The bed was hard as a rock but that's Asia. We were on the 9th floor and enjoyed a decent view.

Other observations of the first night include the fact that Thai people love our kids, just like Indians, but they also have a sense of decorum and personal space and normally admired from a small distance. Which the kids seemed to appreciate. Also, the autos here are more open air than in India, are bigger, and MUCH more colorful. It seems the auto (or tuk tuk) driver can color his auto however he wishes. Which is normally in bright, fluorescent colors, pink being the primary one used. That is a distinct Thai feature.

One night in Bangkok leaves you wondering what took you so long to come.

two nights in Bangkok: That first day we slept until about 9 am then ventured out to hit the malls surrounding us. Literally a ring of malls connected by covered elevated walkways all the way around our hotel. The Paragon wants for nothing. Though the actual shopping stores were not to our tastes, the food court is divine. Burger King, McD's, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Famous Amos, Mexican food!, Asian food, gelato gelato gelato, Italian, Tony Roma's, Japanese, and a huge Supermarket with everything. Problem with the supermarket is all the imported stuff was so expensive. That first day we ate Mexican food (fish tacos for me!) and I had gelato while Susie had a Cinnabon.

The bottom two floors of the mall are an aquarium so we went there with the kids. Our ticket included a fish spa experience that was so much fun. I went with Maggie and it those little fish sure do tickle as they nibble on your skin. I enjoyed that. We also fed shrimp to fish and sharks on a glass bottom boat. That night we went swimming and then Susie went exploring the night life while I put the kids to bed.

We were shivering in the pool at night. I did not expect to be COLD in Bangkok in July. Once again, the people were all so polite and kind to the kids. And there were more white people in the mall alone than in all of India. At the Mexican restaurant, for example, the group next to us was from Huntington Beach. They were here modelling and were deciding if they were willing to be topless in some of the shots later that day. That side of Bangkok seems particularly Thai; India is much more conservative in that respect.

Two nights in Bangkok make you want to move there!

three nights in Bangkok: Today we had a tour up to Siam, the ancient capital of Thailand. The drive was a nice chance to see the city and the countryside both, but it was awfully early in the morning. We had to wake the kids up and paid the price for that all day. The chocolate milk for 7-11helped; we can't get that here. 7-11 is also huge in the Kong, but I haven't seen one in India. Apparently 7-11 is huger in Bangkok than even back in the states.

What a beautiful country. No trash anywhere. And lots of stand alone houses. I think the people here (and country as a whole) has more money than India to support infrastructure. Having a better tourist policy than India probably helps, as that brings in more money.

The summer palace was wonderful! Topiaries, grass, water monitors, peace and quiet. The Chinese influence here was huge. Another Chinese influence is that almost all signs are in Chinese and Thai, with some also in English.

Onto some ruins, then a lunch boat ride back into Bangkok. The river into Bangkok was very relaxing. When we passed under bridges, you could reach up and touch the bridges. Not a lot of clearance space indeed. The food on the boat was absolutely amazing. I'm told it's not real Thai food as that would be too spicy anyhow. The kids rode a regal elephant all dressed to the nines also. Once again, the Thais know how to cater to the foreigners better. The elephants are bigger than in India here.

Dinner this night was pretzel dogs and cinnamon sugar pretzels. I was doing my very best to not overindulge at all the choices I don't have here in India.

Three nights in Bangkok leaves you dizzy and exhausted. It's a lot to take in.

four nights in Bangkok: Today we hit the Safari and Ocean Park. It rained all day but we wore hats, bought an umbrella, and survived. It really turns the humidity up a notch when it rains, and our rain coats were useless as they were too uncomfortable in that kind of humidity.

The kids LOVED the safari. Camels coming to our car window even. We got to feed giraffes, which was totally awesome, and also fed some parakeets. They also have baby tiger cubs you can feed but they were napping when we were there. Since the cubs were asleep in their unlocked cages, Maggie and I reached in and petted them. A little scary, I must admit, but also totally awesome. This zoo really let us get up close to the animals.

Today's cuisine was Mos Hamburgers (a Japanese chain but I just waned a non-McD's hamburger) and it was good. We hit Dunkin Donuts because it's half the price as Krispy Kreme without a 10 minute line. People here sure love Krispy Kreme. It's always packed. We also bought some food items to bring home, mostly some Campbell's soup and saltine crackers, things we can't get here that weren't insane price wise. They had raspberries and I was so tempted but it was $10 for a small box.

We found another mall that had touristy stuff and bought some paintings and Thai t-shirts here.

I think the country is most like Malaysia, which makes sense as they are border countries. Lush, green, wet, humid.

Four nights in Bangkok makes you seriously consider an office transfer, but only when you are safe out of the humidity.

[Comments] (1) all good things coming to an end: Before our flight last night we hit Lumphini Park in the rain, then did some shopping, had one last fix of good food (guacamole and chips!) then it was back to the airport. We rode the SkyTrain to the park and everyone is so polite and lets people get off the train before getting on, and people also helped us buy our tickets correctly. Friendly people; you don't see that on the subway in the Kong. Thailand confiscated our sunscreen and toothpaste, even though India let us bring it into the country. I'm not sure how all these different types of security procedures work. To leave America I have to take off my shoes and belt but to get back in I don't have to, for example. So what's the point? For whose benefit do I do all this?

We flew to Calcutta in clouds that thinned just as we hit the Mouth of the Ganges. It was beautiful. Calcutta required us to deplane, ride a shuttle 20 paces to the international terminal, get reinstated in India, go outside and walk 5 minutes in horrid humidity to the domestic terminal, check back in (they tried to take my Chicken Noodle soup but I held firm) only to take a shuttle back to the same plane I just got off of! Seriously! Our seats were the same row but opposite side of the plane. What an experience.

Calcutta wasn't as horrid an airport as I'd heard tell. It's nicer than Goa, but the fire alarm was going off the whole time we were there. Being on the same plane and all, the service changed as we were now on a "cheap" Kinfisher leg. So even though the first leg had blankets, pillows, wet wipes, and teevees, and it was the same plane, they discontinued all these for the cheap flight. What a joke.

We flew to Hyderabad for a 30-minute layover but stayed on the plane while the kids slept. Then home to Bangalore and went to bed around midnight.

It was night and day difference being back in India. Everyone on the plane was grabbing the kids and so they were screaming. And people on the airplane were pushing and shoving in line to get off the plane, not waiting for the seatbelt light to go off, pushing and shoving through immigration, etc. I've been told we value least what we have most, and since what India has most is people, there is no value in being polite on an airplane. It's an interesting culture.

Now it's busy season but we head to Kerala, the southern tip of India, for Susie's BD in Sept and then onto Dubai for Dalton's BD in October, then we'll be heading home. Time flies when you fly.


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