Sunday, June 29, 2008

Seperate Vacations...

N 13 deg 44.761
E 100 deg 33.388

Time has come for our big Asian summer vacation. In this trip, I will go to Thailand and Cambodia with my brother, his girlfriend, my parents and their home teachers (now that’s magnifying a calling). Then Anna will join us for Vietnam and then the Philippines where Anna and I will be sealed for time and eternity.

Anna and I would rather be on the whole trip together, however, it wasn’t to be. I get almost double the vacation time she gets. She just couldn’t get off long enough to be with us for the first leg of the tour in Thailand. Also, our plan would only give her about one week (maybe less) to be with her family. She wanted more. While I’m in Cambodia, she will be home with her family.

I woke up early in the morning to catch my flight to Manila for a layover on my way to Bangkok. I kiss Anna goodbye and enter the airport and I’m off. When I arrive in Manila things already look bleak. As I wait for my baggage I wonder about the benefit I’m actually getting being “elite” status. One by one I see bags that are not mine going around in a circle. Elite baggage handling my asphalt.

When the conveyer belt stopped and my bag had still not shown itself, I knew what that meant. What I didn’t know is how they could lose a bag on a single direct flight with no layovers or stops in the middle. And I didn’t have much time to argue with them about it. I had just enough time to change terminals, check in, and get on my next flight to Bangkok. After doing my obligatory cursing and finger pointing, I filled out my paper work and left them with my “stink eye.”

My street clothes were not in the bag that was lost. I had no valuables, cash or electronics in there either. But what I did have in there was valuable in another way. We are going to the temple. This is Anna’s first trip. I had all of her new, unused garments in there. I also had her new temple clothes and packet. My temple clothes and packet were in there as well. Also, my new Vietnamese tailor made suit and dress shoes were in there. It may not be worth a bundle in the world’s terms, but this was a pretty important suitcase for me.

My disgruntled mood didn’t improve when I denied the seat that I supposedly had reserved online for my flight to Bangkok. I love window seats toward the front. Nice view, no one getting up and down thereby forcing me to move, and I get to get off the plane first. So, naturally I get an aisle seat in row 75. I get put in what they call “Fiesta Class.” To me, the title of Fiesta Class sound like you get to sit in the back with the piƱatas and cattle. They might as well call it what it is, “steerage class.” I was an unhappy hombre.

The silver lining to having my luggage lost is that I was traveling lightly. Although I was in the back of the plane, I didn’t have to wait for luggage so I walked straight through customs and caught the dingy cab to my brother’s place in downtown Bangkok.

I arrive and hang out with my brother and his girlfriend, Jam. Yeah, Jam. I guess that’s a common nickname in Thailand. I should start calling my brother butter so he can match her better.

Shortly after I settle in, my parents and their travel companions, the Kings, arrive. They’ve already been traveling for a month. They started in England. Then on to France and India. They spent a week in Bangkok already and at this point just got back from a week of traveling China.

Since everybody in the group was in pairs, I was the odd man out. It was like being single again. And, in true single fashion, I got the couch. After a hot, sweaty and sleepless night we got ready to head north in Thailand past Chiang Mai.

Through the air plane flight and taxi rides I always ended up in the single seat and to the side. Being the only one that didn’t have a companion I didn’t expect much else. So far, this trip reminds me of our last family great vacation in 2005 to Europe. Ever since that trip I’ve had Anna with me for just about any other vacation. And it’s been nice. So nice, I’ve forgotten how much I prefer it. I am constantly talking about Anna and wishing she were with me. I hope this will be the last time we take separate vacations. I know other married couples take separate vacations all the time. I don’t know how they could prefer it.

For the next couple of days our entourage will relax in a natural hot springs resort in northern Thailand. We’ll get cheap 1 hour massages and elephant rides. I am looking forward to it. I know I’ll have fun. But in the few years that I’ve been with Anna I know that traveling without her won’t be as good as it could be. The events of just the first couple of days have reaffirmed the opinion that I had since I was old enough to know that boys were supposed to like girls: being single sucks.