As some of you know, my wife and I were recently in Thailand. We were, in fact, there while People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) closed down the airports in Bangkok. Once that happen, we (a long with 349,998 people) were pretty screwed getting back home. The following is a rough account of what we went through to get home. It is a bit long, but enjoy it anyway.
By way of an introduction, the following is a map of roughly where we were and where we went.
Tuesday, November 25th – The Fun Begins
PAD takes over the main airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi, as well the older Don Meung airport. They have a bit of a throw-down with the cabbies at the airport. This involves golf clubs, sticks, and whatever else everyone get their hands on. They demand to know when the Prime Minister is returning to Thailand, which turns out to be Wednesday. I figure that the PM will come back to Thailand and work things out with PAD. Oh so wrong was I.
I cannot begin to imagine what it was like for the people at the airport waiting to fly out. Truly terrifying. But then again, PAD people were dressed rather festively and they did set up a bunch of food stalls. It might have been fun… for about 5 seconds.
Wednesday, November 26th – What, me worry?
So the Thai Prime Minister returns to Thailand, but instead of flying back to Bangkok where the welcome committee was stationed, he flew to an air force base near Chiang Mai. We had seen this base a week prior. The PM states he will not dissolve the government and he called on PAD to leave the airports. Stop or I’ll say stop again!
Hoping that this would resolve itself, we did nothing to prepare for what was coming.
[Some friends from Approva were in town from Pune, India. They had read my trip report on our company trip to the beach in Dapoli and found it hilarious. They implored me to post it up on tuesday night.]
Day 1 – A Good Start
After Shamshu (or Uncle as he is known in the office) picked me up at oh-dark-thirty, we headed to the office. There in watching everyone try and get organized, I introduced him to the expression “herding cats.” I knew I was in for a good time when I noticed dried vomit festooned on the side of the bus. Shortly after, Shamshu asked, with a slight malevolent grin, “Do you get the motion sickness?” I do, Shamshu, I do indeed, but I had prepared for such a situation by doping up appropriately.
So off we went, about 2 hours later than we were supposed to. And by off we went I mean to say, we started fighting through traffic in Pune. Both buses stopped a while later to pick up more people. (There were two buses. Hare Krishna, seen above, and The Short Bus, which will be taking a prominent role in a moment.) In the crew that we picked up at the second included Shishir, Kaustubh, and Aniruddha. After much back and forth, it was decided that the drinkers and smokers would take The Short Bus and everyone else would ride with Krishna. So off we went… again.
Queue Bollywood sound track at earsplitting decibels. After an hour of that I did make out the distinct sound of a beer being opened. Okay, I’m thinking, this is a good old fashion road trip. Kingfisher in hand I sat back and enjoyed the drive out of Pune and into the hills. Stopping at a Tata Power Generation control reservoir I got a good sense of the landscape reminded me of Southern California.
On the way back to the bus I saw something hanging from the open engine compartment. Shamshu called it lemon chili and it was, supposedly, for good luck. Keep that good luck charm in mind.