It is the beginning of my first full day in Thailand, and I was lying awake in my bed around 5:30 am when I decided I might as well get up and do some reading. While in the bathroom I slowly noticed the sound of birds outside my window. It was still dark outside, but when I opened the window to my balcony I could hear a cacophony of calls and sounds. I will have to find a good resource pairing bird calls to species to figure out what exactly is right outside my window, but at any rate it was a truly excellent welcome to a country that I am just now seeing by daylight for the first time. You can look out the window and see birds of all shapes and sizes flying to and fro over the city, and by the sound of it there are a handful of species taking residence in the decent grouping of trees right outside my window.
The trip here was rather long, and a quiet apartment was a welcome thing after being on the road for approximately three days. From the moment I stepped off the airplane at Suvarnbhumi Airport I experienced nothing but the kindest people, and I genuinely sensed why they call this place the “Land of Smiles.” My checked bag was lost somewhere in transit (I have a hunch it was misplaced at the airport in Bahrain), but they took my address at the airport and assured me they would send it to me as soon as they found it. The bag contained mostly clothes, so while I am short on that and a few toiletries I should be fine for a couple of days without it. I can only hope it shows up sooner rather than later.
Aum and her father greeted me at the airport. Aum is a student that goes to my university and has volunteered to take me under her wing and help me assimilate into life here with a bit more ease. She is a kind woman. Her father drove me all the way from the airport to my apartment in the city. Their generosity floored me, as it was around an hour and a half long drive through heavy traffic and several toll roads. I will put it near the top of my list to find a way to thank them – they made my first experience here a great one.
My room is a nice one – spacious, with a nice floor to ceiling window facing a garden behind the building. My fifth-floor balcony looks right out to the point of being about level with the highest trees. I have a private bathroom with a shower and a toilet equipped with a bidet, a small hose that you use to clean yourself in lieu of toilet paper. I used one for the first time in the Bahrain airport because I thought there was a chance I would never get another chance. Recovering from days of the diet of a traveler has led me to already appreciate it, although I doubt this morning will be the last time I soak my outfit in a sleepy, careless haze.
It has grown lighter outside since I have been writing, and the haze I have heard so much about has become apparent. There were no stars out last night, but I was a bit too frazzled to realize just how thick the smog seems to a young man from Montana. The Weather Channel website says today is supposed to be partly cloudy, but this would classify as heavy overcast in Montana.
Aum has volunteered to meet this morning and take me to the bank to get money, and to the university bookstore for school uniforms (a plain looking white button-up shirt and black pants). I hope to be able to make a side-trip to find some other essentials, such as soap and bedding, which I was without last night.
It should be a grand Saturday, and the beginning of something great. More birds are awakening, and with every call my excitement at being here grows a bit more.