May 14-15:  Los Angeles to Bangkok

I actually left for the airport the night of the 13th, but I'm not creating a separate page just for that day.  Not that those last couple hours of the 13th were uneventful.  I had 6 eggs and orange juice for dinner, partly so I could avoid eating at LAX, and partly because the eggs were about to expire.  I think I bought eggs a couple weeks ago to make a meatloaf and tried to use the leftovers for breakfast, but I could never get the eggs and bacon in sync, and thus the extra 6.

On my usual subway/FlyAway ride to LAX I noticed several lasses checking me out.  Perhaps my pre-trip randiness was showing through!  Or perhaps with the suspension of stress from work and comedy and life, I might have inadvertently cracked a smile.

I was surprised that Air China is in Terminal 2, and not the Tom Bradley International Terminal.  I was even more surprised when I went to the counter and the agent (seemingly having encountered this many times) pointed out that I'm on China Air (Taiwan), not Air China (Red China).  Massive brain fart on my part.  I'd call it an epic fail, but we're not at that stage of the travelogue yet.  And I flew China Air on my previous trip to Southeast Asia and I knew the difference, so that was quite a lapse.  Still, I mostly blame Communism for making me walk from Terminal 2 to the TBIT.

At the Air China counter I saw that every girl in line was hot.  I mean every white girl.  Most people in line were Asians, but they don't count.  Already I was trying to see how early I could identify my tourmates (after the Costa Rica trip when I saw the Moore sisters at the Miami airport and correctly guessed that they'd be in my tour group).  None of the China Air hotties made it to Bangkok though.

Chinamen are so odd!  One tried to go through security with a water bottle (I mean, duh!), another went through the metal detector with pockets full of metal, and a bunch of them were standing on the moving walkway--not on the right as per standard rules of interaction, but on both sides, blocking traffic.  These Chinamen are flouting society's conventions.  It's lewd, lascivious, salacious...outrageous.

At the gate I started on Harry the K (biography of Harry Kalas) and continued to scout for potential tourmates.  One leggy solo girl in a blue jacket caught my eye...her jawline and haircut (not bad hair in a delicate genius way, just at an askew angle) were just off enough that I'd hook up with her on a tour, but not in real life.  Eh, what am I saying.  She weighed less than me.  That's a rare opportunity.  Of course I'd go for it in real life.

The LAX-TPE flight left sometime after 1:15am.  What a backward airline this is.  First of all, free food!  And free alcohol!  I had "chicken potato" (opting for that over "fish rice") and red wine.  Also, I got stuck in seat D in an ABC-DEFG-HJK config.  You'd think if I booked a flight 8 months in advance I would have picked a window seat to facilitate sleep, but China Air doesn't go for that newfangled Internet seat selection nonsense.  You get your seat when you check in.  And they called me the day before asking me to confirm my flight!  Like airlines did back in the '80s!  And using the "tele-phone" as a primary means of contact is the epitome of old-fashionedness.  I hate the tele-phone.  It's an 1876 invention that was useful and efficient many years ago, but it's become the worst method of non-emergency communication, primarily due to its lack of a backspace key.

I took a PM pill about 1.5 hr into the flight (total flight time 13:55), listened to the iPod a bit, then tried to sleep.  Don't think I did.  No dreams.  I was roused at 4am (1pm yesterday LA time) for breakfast, which was a nearly unpalatable rice soup.

According to the video map we were flying over Kobe, Japan, which sucked because I was hoping not to hear about Kobe at all on this trip.  Between work and Loud Todd's Facebook posts, I'm really sick of all this Lakers talk.  Outside of LA, it's baseball and hockey season.  At least until Flyers-Bruins game 7 Friday night.  I didn't really have a Friday because of the International Date Line, so I don't know if this game is taking place in the past or the future.

Songs stuck in my head the last couple days:  One Night in Bangkok, Come On Eileen (what happens at happy hour stays at happy hour), Relax (kind of nervous about this one in Malaysia), and various Debbie Gibson songs, including Only in My Dreams, because I met a girl a couple days ago, but it was only in my dreams.

I arrived in Taipei and my flight to Bangkok put me at the same gate as my 2005 trip (see previous travelogue).  The art displays were empty, and there was no screaming kid this time.  I went to the same bank of phones from 2005 (I realize this takes some of the bite out of my tele-phone comments above) and called Esmeralda County District Attorney candidate Chris Arabia, solely to inform him (as I did previously) that I was calling from the Isle of Formosa.

Based on what leaked in from the outside, Taipei was humid with a foggy drizzle.  It smelled old, like noodles at Asian food counters that don't sell the kind of Asian food you like.  With the climate I knew I was going to get sweaty on this trip.  Good thing I brought more than one pair of underwear this time.

Boarding the TPE-BKK flight, the girl in front of me was asked for her "overweight coupon".  This may have pertained to one of her bags, but I thoroughly examined her ass on the aerobridge and she was definitely in excess.

I finished Harry the K on the plane, just in time for landing at 11:20am.  I went through immigration and--can you believe this--they asked for my passport!  And I had to fill out an arrival card that a stewardess gave me just because I was white!  I mean, come on, having to show my this Thailand or Arizona?

Got a taxi and en route I asked the driver if there was any news in the last day about the protests in Bangkok.  He either didn't understand me or pretended not to.

At 12:35pm I arrived at the Hotel De' Moc.  On the hotel web site the meta tags include “gay hotel Bangkok”, which prompted j2's former president Gary Hickox to comment “that should make a man out of you”.  No mystery on this tour about whether I'd have a roommate, because I paid extra for my own room.  I can't go back to having a roommate, especially when he gets in the way of me banging Foxy Oxy.  I lucked out and got set up in the Somerset Maugham suite.  (Even if you've heard One Night in Bangkok hundreds of times, you probably don't get that.)  I checked the sheet in the lobby...our tour leader is Dek, but no names were listed, which I hate because it's easier to get to know people if I have the names up front.  According to the web site there are 13 people in this group (ultimately there were 14).  There are 4 Gap groups staying in this hotel, and one group has only 3 people.  That's horrible.

Towels in my room.  This photo is a tradition, aimed as a taunt at a certain someone.

View from my balcony.  Gilded temples at distant left.

Left view from my balcony.  There was an even more derelict-looking wasteland down below but I couldn't capture it.

The air conditioning in the room was nice, but I rather enjoyed the humidity on the balcony.  It cradled and comforted me like cabbage does a gołombek.

I'd had 3 meals on planes and wasn't hungry, and I'd been to Bangkok before and had no sightseeing plans, so I took my contacts out and tried to nap, which I did off and on until 4:45pm.  Showered (hot water only), freshened up, and went down to the meeting.

I'd booked this tour with the expectation of a favorable female-male ratio.  So did a bunch of guys, apparently.  Sausage fest.  Six guys, 5 girls, with 3 more guys joining us in Ao Nang.  But it is a young group (a YOLO tour with an 18-39 age limit that Gap tried to retroactively enforce on me, but I argued my way into staying on the tour, citing such things as my zest for life that Heather Turman has also identified, and my general mutual attraction with girls who aren't 41) so it's still good, unlike that old Yugoslavia group a couple years ago.  I'm the only American in the group; there are 3 girls from Northern Ireland and the rest are from England.  The 3 guys joining us later are reportedly from Australia.

We went out for our first group dinner.  I had beef with Penang curry.  I would have rather eaten scorpion, but I've learned that showing off by eating exotic food doesn't pay off.  My last time in Bangkok I ate crickets and a grasshopper, and I learned afterward that Kristen was planning to buy me a drink if I did it, and I've been trying to collect ever since.  One year in Clearwater she avoided buying me the drink by leaving Bright House Field early because it was quote-unquote "cold", and another time she left because of--get this--a swarm of bees.  Bees!  Then she ran out of excuses and moved from Clearwater back to Philly, knowing that I'm tied up with Wiffleball whenever I go to Philly.  But just like Timothy Princeton White's $2,328 debt which I wrote off from my taxable income but which remains due to me, that drink shall be mine.

The Irish girls went back to the hotel (tired I think) but the rest of us went out drinking on Khao San Road.

Sign next to one of the places where we were drinking.

There was a nasty chick sitting in the massage pool.  You want customers, put a hottie in there.

Khao San Road.  I think I have a similar photo in the 2005 travelogue.

Oh yes.  This girl was going around selling flowers, like those irritating cunts who sell Girl Scout cookies.  Whatever her age, she seemed a lot older in mannerisms.  When she rolls her Disney-style eyes, she can convince anyone to do anything.  When she turns 12, she's going to make a ton of money as a whore.  I paid her 20 baht for this photo, and it probably wouldn't have required much more money for some better photos.  But Gap has rules about this, and I do have a lower age limit.  Grass on the field, at least.  (Apparently there's a cricket version of that saying, but I forget it.) lower limit.

Lots of guys on Khao San Road were selling suits.  What traveller needs a suit?  I need one for a wedding every 5 years or so.  Why the hell would I buy one on the spur of the moment in Bangkok, regardless of price, and stuff it in my bag for the next 2 weeks?  I'd rather make my own suit.

At some point tonight Joe asked if I come from the same area as Tom Hanks, because I look and sound like him.  Nice.  You are as astute as Rebecca Cave and Eli Bogie.  Also someone guessed 28 as my age.  Generally guesses go about 10 years younger, but the last 3 have been 28, 25 and 28.  I guess it's a compliment, but it seems like looking young should have some positive value in society, and it seems to have a negative effect for me.

[Sorry if the tone of this travelogue changes here, but I just took a long break from typing to revel in Roy Halladay's perfect game.]

This was probably the best opening night of any of my 10 group tours.  I counted 10 drinks for me.  A dude-heavy group does mean more drinking.  To bed 2am.