The year was 2006. I was a few weeks away from my high school graduation, sitting around the dinner table, and talking with my family about my father's upcoming business trip to Thailand.
"You should bring me with you!", I casually joked. It was one of those lame jokes that everyone seems to tell now and then, like when someone says "pack me in your suitcase!" or "did you bring that coffee for me?!". The answer is typically an eye roll, or a fake laugh and a cold "no". I don't remember what my father said, but surprisingly, I wasn't dismissed out of hand.
A few days later, my father came back and said, "alright, you're going to Thailand." I was shocked! It ends up, he spoke to his company about making concessions on the cost of accommodations on this business trip; by doing so, the company agreed to pay for my ticket. The company actually paid less overall, my father got a travel companion, and I got to travel out of North America for the first time in my life! It was an ever rare "win-win-win". The next two weeks were spent frantically purchasing clothes, traveling to the local Federal Building to rush order a passport, and, oh yeah, finishing high school! Eventually, it was time to depart.
The journey to Thailand actually began, of all places, at Disneyland. I stayed up all-night celebrating at my Disneyland Grad Nite. From there, I was onto one bus home, another bus to LAX, a long flight to Japan, and one more flight across China. Nearly 20 hours later, I landed in Bangkok. It was 10pm and I had napped only minimally throughout the entire journey.
I recall taking a taxi to our hotel and pushing sleepily into our room. In no time at all, my head hit the pillow and I was out.
The next morning, I awoke without jet lag. My 36 hour-trial to stay awake paid off with a flawless night of sleep and plenty of energy to boot. My dad and I were at a hotel down the main strip from the airport. We chose to start our first day with a trip to the local market. We walked around, grabbed some refreshments, and took in the sights.
On the way back from the market, we opted to skip another boring, fully-enclosed taxi and instead take a tuk tuk, more clinically known as an auto-rickshaw. A tuk tuk, named for noise it makes as it sputters down the road, is like a motorcycle with a two-wide backseat and roof. Sitting perched to the right of the vehicle with a clear view of the road ahead was both freeing and terrifying, like riding in the Millennium Falcon cockpit with the windows rolled down.
I do believe we tipped extra to grab photos in the driver's seat.
This trip was formally a business trip for my dad so most of the time he spent it doing, well, business! While he was gone, I occupied my time by lounging around the hotel, surfing the primitive-2006 internet, or taking day tours around Bangkok. However, on one such day I was actually able to join my father and tour the factory he was working at.
If you ask me, I think I made the clean-room cover-all, bonnet, and booties look rather sexy.
On another day, I was fortunate enough to travel a few miles out of town to a theme park called Dream World. The wife of my father's co-worker offered to take me to the park, so I could get out of the hotel. I could tell that she was unimpressed and confused by why a young man would want to go to a place clearly intended, in her mind, for children. Wearing my signature high-tops, cargo shorts, and my best double-layered theme park t-shirts, I made my way to the park in their car. Damn high school was a weird time for me.
On the way, we saw structures known as the "Thai Stonehenge". They were pylons for an elevated railway that ran out of money half-way through the construction. Apparently even today, no progress has been made.
I was a crazy theme park fan and getting to visit a theme park in another country felt really alluring, even if it ended up being a loose rip-off of Disneyland. The park was sandwiched into a long and thin parcel of former farmland and filled with an odd collection of themed attractions and barren, off-the-shelf rides. As with many knock-offs, it was clear that the park misunderstood what made Disneyland successful and focused on the wrong things, to a sad effect.
I'm not going to give the play-by-play of my time in Dream World but I had fun. It was one of those "glad I did it"/"never again" things.
On my last day alone in Bangkok, I went on a tour of some of the local temples. It's funny how memory works. Or doesn't work. I did not remember the names or defining features of any of the temples I visited. But I remember specific details of the day, such as removing my shoes to enter the temples, a custodian vacuuming the prayer floor in one of them, and a pair of Indian guys on our tour bus who were mighty proud of the fact that Buddhism originated in India (despite the fact that they were not Buddhist themselves). Using a reverse Google image search, I was able to determine the names of two of the three temples I visited this day.
One temple was Wat Pho, known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The temple is terrifically old, terrifically ornate, and represents architectural styles from a variety of historical periods of Thai history.
If you haven't already guessed from the name "Temple of the Reclining Buddha", at the temple's center is a structure containing a massive, 150-foot long Buddha statue. With a comfortable posture and a face that says "awww yeah", this Buddha statue isn't sitting legs-crossed but rather is reclined. He looks like a contented football fan watching his team on TV win by a comfortable margin.
Moving on from Wat Pho, we also visited Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, more easily known as the marble temple. Like the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, you can probably guess why this one is called the "marble temple". At just over 100 years old, this temple is considerably younger than most in Thailand. Heck, the marble stones it is constructed with were imported form Italy. Regardless, it was another impressive structure, significant to the Thai people.
And just as soon as this post started, it has come to an end; that should do it for today!
I understand that this post lacked narrative and jumped around but 10 years ago, I wasn't taking photos with a blog post in mind. I was using the family's 4 mega-pixel camera, our first digital one, and pretty much snapped photos of the random of things which caught my eye. I hope you enjoyed what I dare consider to be a blast-from-the-past. I will have one more of these posts up, from the two days where my father and I traveled outside of Bangkok!
In the meantime, go ahead and click below to check out out a few more dorky photos of my time in Bangkok! Thanks for reading!