Strangely enough, due to the mysterious ways that govern Jetstar, the cheapest way to get to Bangkok from Sydney was via Melbourne. It meant another long haul flight, but after the sixteen hour marathon from Dallas to Sydney, a nine hour jump from Melbourne to Bangkok was practically a walk in the park. Well… perhaps a long sit down on an uncomfortable bench with a book in the park, but the point is… I got there eventually.
As a student of world languages, I often take for granted my ability to walk into a foreign country and start picking up bits and pieces of the completely foreign language that nonetheless make a bit of sense to me. I had neglected to consider that this ability probably wouldn’t extend to languages in a different alphabet. Bangkok made me feel more like a tourist than I have for a very long time, and I hadn’t even made it out of the airport yet.
Fortunately for this idiot falang, the taxi booth operators all spoke and read English, so I was able to get a taxi out to my friends’ apartment. I didn’t get in until about ten o’clock at night after a long day of travelling, so after plonking my stuff down, we headed straight out to grab some street food and then called it a night.
The few days in Bangkok ahead of the tournament all looked remarkably similar. We would get up sometime half way through the morning and wander down to our preferred local restaurant for “muesli”. Thai style muesli comes with cornflakes, fresh fruit and condensed milk, but it’s not a terrible way to start the day. We’d generally spend what was left of the morning shopping and running any errands that needed running or sleeping a bit more and then head out towards Chula University sometime in the mid afternoon.
We’d stop by the food court of the local freaking huge shopping centre on the way for lunch and then train for a few hours with one of the local teams. It was nice to pit ourselves against some guys who really know how to play, both to appreciate how far we’ve come, and also how much more we still have to learn.
It was a handy routine to follow, particularly in a country where everything you think you know about day to day living has basically gone out the window with the alphabet. The one diversion we did take was to spend a morning being all touristy at the grand palace in Bangkok. Those guys really know how to decorate.
After four days, we’d successfully bonded as a team, avoided food poisoning (broadly) and we were ready for the trip to Udon Thani. Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs