Compared to Northern California, London was cold but that shouldn’t have been a problem. My warm jacket and shoes were sitting at the top of my suitcase, all ready for a quick change before leaving Terminal 1 at Heathrow. Unfortunately, it seemed that United had managed to send the suitcase to Chicago, presumably not on the flight that was cancelled. You know what I like about United Airlines? …… absolutely nothing.
I was reunited with my suitcase just in time for check-in. A few hours sleep between London and the UAE and then a seat next to ‘Miss Chatty’ all of the way to Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi Airport was busy, very busy for eight o’clock in the morning. The Russian’s had landed before me, probably not long before me but there seemed to be an awful lot of them in the queue. They were lovely people but it seems that no matter how many times they were told, they wouldn’t complete their immigration forms until they were standing directly in front of the frustrated, yet still smiling, immigration officer. Eventually I got through, but the immigration process took almost two hours and I managed to miss my connecting flight to Udon Thani. On the bright side, at least my case had arrived in Thailand with me. The prospect of a nine hour bus journey to Nong Khai on the Laos border didn’t really appeal ….. but a hot shower and change of clothes certainly did.
I arrived in Nong Khai a day late, but after a night in a hotel at least my ‘look’ and ‘smell’ were a whole lot better. I was there for the Loy Krathong festival, 21st to the 23rd of November. I’d missed the first night of the festival, which of course is the worst night to miss, but it actually worked out quite well. I was in Tha-Bo, a small town resting on the banks of the Mekong River (‘’Nam Khong’’ in Thai). I’d intended to book into a small hotel, but for two reasons that didn’t happen. Firstly there wasn’t a small hotel in Tha-Bo, nor even a big one, and my ’host’ for the visit insisted that I stayed with her and her family….. no objections from me.
Earlier in the year, I’d tried to visit the factory where Thailand manufactures is own brand of motorcycle, the ‘Tiger’. Now, my command of the Thai language isn’t great, but when I found myself touring a factory producing nothing more exciting than electronic ignition systems for Japanese cars and bikes, I’d smiled, nodded and pretended that it was exactly what I’d wanted to see. OK, I might have lied about wanting to tour that particular factory, but the smile was certainly genuine. An employee of Bangkok’s Shen-Ding-Gen Corporation is Wisa Botmark, and thanks to her enthusiasm I learned more about electronic ignition systems than any reasonable person would ever needed to know. To cut another long story short, since then we’ve spent some time together and Wisa’s family had insisted that I stayed with them in Tha-Bo.
Unfortunately, the past few weeks have been something of an electronic nightmare. Firstly my laptop decided that it will no longer connect to the internet and then my camera decided to malfunction. I’m trying to fix both of those problems but until the laptop challenge is overcome, I’m stuck with an internet café full of kid’s playing games that are as loud as they are incomprehensible. I’ll try to finish this post in the next few days but this Thai keyboard has defeated me and my hour is up …… mai pen rai