It’s 9 a.m. I’m sitting near the airport entrance across from two European men taking selfies with cans of Chang beer in hand. There are certain times and places in Thailand when and where you’re not allowed to purchase liquor. Nine a.m. at Don Mueang doesn’t appear to be one of those times or places.
To my right there’s a woman coughing violently from the smog produced by Thailand’s month of March burning of shrubs and leaves in the jungles (they say it prevents the bigger trees from burning and starting larger fires in the hot season. Also, I can’t believe this isn’t the hot season). The coughing woman is with her daughter, who’s about 4-years-old and is wearing all pink everything–pink pants, pink shirt with a pink bow, pink socks, pink Barbie heels, pink rubber bands in her pigtails and a pink Minnie Mouse backpack. She’s dancing around in the walkway in her little heels, making sure they clank each time she takes a step. She’s slipping and sliding and getting in everyone’s way. She just made a mean face at me. I don’t know how I feel about this one.
It’s nine fifteen. The airport is starting to get busy. Travelers walk past with their rolling suitcases and backpacks and purses. There are vague noises all over–light chatter and coffee grinders, the echoed rumbles of baggage carts as their squeaky wheels roll along the tile floor; the distant whistles of the traffic officers in the lot outside; the two tones calling for attention before flight information and other announcements in Thai and then English.
“Attention please, flight DD805 arriving from Phuket, thank you.”
“Attention please, a Bluetooth has been found. Owner please contact information. Thank you.”
My two hours of free wifi has apparently just been expended. There’s no way I’ve been here for two hours.
It’s nine thirty. The European bros have each finished their two beers and are walking toward the escalator laughing and high fiving each other with sleepy, tipsy eyes. The pink girl and her mother are gone. I wont be leaving any time soon. My flight is at seven this evening. It’s nine thirty.
This is the second leg of a long and relatively cheap journey from the north of Thailand to the island of Koh Tao, where I will finish out my trip. I took the overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok last night. The train left at five thirty. I thought I’d get some reading and writing done, but I fell asleep in my chair almost immediately. I stared out the window for half an hour, watching the green go by and the sun descend into a sea of clouds and then I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I woke, disoriented, to a tap on my shoulder by the manager of Chiang Mai to Bangkok train car number two. He pointed to my shoes on the floor. I thought he wanted me to take my bare feet off the seats. I turned slowly to put my shoes on, but that wasn’t it. He pointed over my head to what I had figured out before falling asleep would turn into a bed. He wanted me to get up so that he could make the beds. I got up and left my backpack in the chair. He pointed to it. I took it.
He started working frantically, pulling levers and rolling out folded brown mats, sheets and fresh white pillow cases, hooking the mint green curtains to the poles above the beds, and soon he was finished. He moved on and did the same for the remaining 7 sets of beds in the car with astounding efficiency.
I stood for a moment, looked around for something to do other than climb up the rusty blue ladder to my bed. There was nothing else. It was bed time.