Saturday, April 13, 2013

Goodbye Thailand

My last morning in Thailand was more eventful than I would have guessed. Even though my flight didn't leave until almost 1 PM, my hotel insisted that I should leave at 7 or 8 AM due to the water festival celebrations. Since the airport is only an hour from my hotel, I opted for 8 AM.

Sure enough, as I started to walk out the door to checkout just before 8, the phone rang. It was the front desk. They were going on and on that I was going to be late for my flight due to the festival. And no amount of "I'm walking out the door" would stop them.

I had the same driver as before. Same glitzy car and same dance music playing. We encountered no traffic on the drive and I started to wonder if my early departure had more to do with the driver's holiday than my flight schedule.

We stopped for gas once and encountered two groups spraying water from hoses at the cars going by. I was relieved that nobody opened my car door like I'd seen yesterday. I couldn't imagine anything worse than a day soaking wet with wet luggage in the airport. The driver once rolled his window down to participate. Luckily, I remained dry. We made record time and arrived in about 45 minutes including a stop for gas.

Inside the airport, I went straight to the Air Asia line to check in. This is where it gets strange. Almost immediately, one of my classmates from business school walked past me. His name is Jonathan and he is the only other person from my Pepperdine MBA class from Oklahoma. He lives in LA and the last time I saw him, it was randomly in an airport- the Oklahoma City Airport.

I was totally shocked. I hadn't even had breakfast yet. And in all honesty, when I travel, I tend to see people who remind me of other people, so I often have to do a double take before I say hi. Jonathan was totally calm and simply said "I'll be right back." When he came back, it was with his wife Mary Ruth. They just got married and are on their honeymoon! It must have been a bit odd for her to meet a random Pepperdine person at such a tiny airport in Phuket, Thailand. It was random enough for me. I snapped a quick photo (shown below) and they were off to their flight. Congrats to them if they're reading this!

On a side note, I'm very good at recognizing people I know. Too good sometimes. I even spot friends driving on the highway in their cars. Not from what the car looks like, but because of the person in the car. I once spotted my friend Claire from Pepperdine in the Kauai, Hawaii airport as she was boarding her flight. She screamed out something along the lines of, "oh my gawd!! Oh my! I will call you!!! I have to go!" and ran onto the plane. It will be interesting to see if any other similar encounters happen on this trip.

Back in the Air Asia line, I learned that I could not check my luggage for another hour and a half. The Air Asia employee was confused about why I was at the airport so early at all. This baggage rule kept me from going to the gate early and in turn, chatting with Jonathan and Mary Ruth more. Oh well-- at least there was one bright spot in the early morning.

I decided to get some breakfast. There was a Dunkin Donuts in the airport, so I gave it a try. Airports have been the only time I've allowed myself to eat American food or fast food for that matter. All the donuts were facing into the airport. Each customer takes a set of tongs and puts all the donuts they want onto a tray. Then, at the counter they put them in a bag for you. It was one of the more precarious food situations I've seen in an airport, but the donuts tasted good.

A final note about my time in Thailand... Multiple friends have compared this part of my journey to Eat, Pray, Love. I guess in a way, you could say that it is. I certainly had lots of time to think and to rest. I had planned to do yoga. I found a really interesting studio in a little house on stilts. Unfortunately, it was closed for the holiday. Maybe next time!

And I'm off to my next destination!

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