Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Thailand, Part 2

I wanted to make a few more comments on my recent trip. I was particularly interested in seeing how things had changed in Phuket, particularly Patong Beach, since the tsunami. I've been to the area three times prior, so I was familiar with the beach pre-tsunami. The major difference that I noticed was that everything looked so new and clean, which was weird and definitely a result of the rebuilding. I asked different shop owners how long they had been open, and most of them replied that they had reopened up around November of last year. That's almost a year after the tsunami. I wish I had returned to the area sooner. I also wish I had rented a car and made it north to Khao Lak, which was the worst-hit area in Thailand, but it didn't work out.

The photos are as follows:

  • A tsunami evacuation route sign on Patong Beach
  • The view from my breakfast table (so peaceful and quiet each day)
  • Kitties too hot to move at Wat Chalong, the largest temple on Phuket
  • Patong Beach, looking inward from the ocean
  • Kawaii towel animals that appeared in my room each day

I guess the last thing to mention is the flight over. I took the Hiroshima - Bangkok, and then the Bangkok - Phuket.

(Side note: I'm sorry to say that Bangkok Int'l Airport is the pit of hell, just the grossest most uncomfortable airport I've been to in a very long time. And I've flown in and out of Taiwan! I believe a new airport is opening up in November, so I'm going to try to circumvent the area until then. I'm all about Singapore Air and Changi Int'l.)

Anyway, on the way over right before landing in Bangkok for a long lay over, we had the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. Remember that I'm afraid to fly on a good day, but this was not a good day. We had two bouts of extreme bumping around, where my rump left my seat and I was suspended mid-air for what felt like a long time. All of the passengers were gasping and letting out quick yells. High drama. I started crying, of course, and then time just seemed to stop. I was in the back of the plane, and I don't know how long the turbulence lasted, but I had enough time to look forward to the front over all of the passengers' heads and calmly think, "So this is it. I'll be conscious the entire time until we crash. I thought I'd lose consciousness sooner. I can't believe I'm going to die in a plane crash. I hope it ends quickly." I thought that over and over. I thought of the September 11th crashes and felt like I understood (and was about to understand even more of) what it was like to crash in a plane. I know that's all horrible to say, but it was horrible to go through. Ugh! Why is air travel so stressful? I generally think of Rick Steves and this story every single time I go through turbulence, but this was way beyond Rick.

Long story longer, I got off the plane in Bangkok and cried for a while, trying to think of a way to change my plans and stay in Bangkok so I wouldn't have to fly again. I'm glad I ended up going to Phuket, of course, and I had one of the most relaxing vacations of my life, but the bottom line: I don't like to fly!

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