Yesterday we did a layover challenge in Thailand.
We landed in Bangkok at 1:30pm, were handed a scavenge booklet with ten scavenges, and told not to miss our 10pm flight.
With a renewed vigor following a day of rest (see Halong Bay), Mark and I set off with determination to kick some scavenger butt.
Thanks to a tip from the Lawyers, we knew there was a train from the airport to center city, so we followed signs down four levels, pausing only to grab maps from a tourism booth. We changed money at an ATM, bought tokens, and missed the train by a minute.
There was another guy there waiting for the next train, and I decided to ask him one of the “poll three locals” questions. (It was to learn the meaning of chuelen and ask them for theirs).
Evidently, it meant nickname, and his was Ohm. Ohm was not super strong in English, but he was so willing to help! He spent the next ten minutes (until the next train came) helping us locate different clues on our map, and then he asked to be my Facebook friend.
What a great start!
And the day just kept getting better, with an astounding level of kindness from the Thai people. Even when they spoke no English, they would confer among themselves to offer assistance, and they were always eager to return smiles. I was beginning to think my impression of Bangkok, that it’s mostly young women being framed for drug smuggling and men wandering down prostitution alleys, wasn’t exactly accurate.
Mark and I strategized by starting at the zoo (via tuk-tuk, my first ever!) to snap a photo of an elephant and be the first to send it to Bill, then worked our way south.
We rode three modes of transportation, including a boat.
Mark got a foot massage while I located a post office (to mail a postcard to Bill’s son’s sixth grade class). David, if you’re reading, send me your address!
We ate street food at a traditional talad.
We polled more locals, including one who asked to take a selfie with me!
We asked 15 people directions for one of the possible restaurants we could eat at, leading us down a side alley, until at last it opened up to a waterfront restaurant with a really amazing view. And food. And we ran into Lawyers Without Borders, who arrived 30 min after us.
We visited the Flower Market (which was given to us in its Thai name and we had to decipher it).
And then our fears returned. Showing up in places that were closed.
We showed up at the first Wat (temple) at 5:30 to find out it closed at 5:30.
We arrived at another at 5:45, wandering the grounds thinking we were inside the temple area, only to realize at 6pm we were in the courtyard and that the temple closed at 6:00pm.
We went to a third Wat, only because someone told us it was very pretty at night and we figured we had no hope of meeting the challenge anymore.
Turns out it was open! The scavenge required us to visit two of the three temples. We knew the first wouldn’t count, but we hoped for partial credit because of the last one (which required us to walk 344 steps to the top to see the city!).
In the end, we accomplished nine challenges, with the questionable Wat experience. And we weren’t certain our picture of the elephant was the first one Bill received. Nevertheless, we were thrilled at our day well spent.
The tuk-tuk back to the train was tricked out with giant speakers and a soundboard, and our driver was the best DJ ever. We jammed the whole way back, dancing and singing, with the evening breeze cooling us off from the blazing hot day.
It. Was. Amazing.
The good news?
We didn’t miss our flight.
The great news?
We won first place on this leg of the scavenger hunt 🙂
(Just as a reminder: if you’re enjoying our travels, please visit our website and help us spread some kindness in the world! We’re raising money to donate to orphans, clean water, and refugees. $10 or whatever you feel comfortable giving! Thank you!)