Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Burning Questions: The Goodbye, Krabi/ Chulalongkom Day Edition

And what, pray tell, is Chulalongkom Day? According to Wikipedia, 23 October is a national public holiday in Thailand commemorating the passing of King Chulalongkom in 1910. I'll have to consult Wikipedia again to find out why Chulalongkom was such a swell guy that he gets the holiday props that the U.S. so seldom bestows upon its icons. (Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have to share their day, making Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ the only two with birthday honors all to themselves.) I might not have known that today was a holiday at all had I not noticed the lack of food vendors lining the normally bustling-in-the-afternoon sidewalks of Narathiwat Road as I was coming home from the airport. Burning question No. 2: Why must public holidays always mean that I go hungrier than usual?

When travel guides estimate the cost of getting to and from the airport, why do they always leave out pivotal incidentals? The motorway fees to get from Don Mueng airport home today totaled 105 baht (60 baht + 45 baht, or $2 + $1.50), which was slightly less than half of what the meter read at the end of the cab ride, which, at 220 baht (or $7.30) was exactly what Travel 3Sixty, AirAsia's in-flight magazine said it would be, and with those pesky motorway add-ons included, just slightly over one-half of the 600 baht ($20) it cost to get from Krabi International Airport to one of the hotels on Ao Nong Beach. Though sky high by Thai standards, as private airport transportation goes, $20 would be practically a steal in the wild wild West, where you'd never be able to buy a five-star meal for $3 or so from vendors lining the road outside of your hotel, on any given night of the week, as so many tourists were doing in Krabi, much to the chagrin of the greedy owners of all those half-empty restaurants along the beach, including the waiter who inexplicably knew my name and called me by it every time I walked by. (He must have read my tattoo.)

Why is it okay to transport liquids inside your checked luggage but not in your carry-on? Are airlines worried that the liquid could be something flammable that you might use to set the cabin on fire from your seat? And why do they never seem to have a problem with shampoo, small containers of lotion and roll-on deodorant? As I made my way to the other side of the security scanner at Krabi International Airport and noticed all the confiscated water bottles, I was relieved that I'd properly hydrated before checking out of Vogue Resort & Spa. My relief turned to disappointment, though, when the airport employee operating the scanner informed me that I couldn't board the plane with the three adorable mini-bottles of fruit wine (kiwi, apple and blueberry flavor) that I'd bought at the souvenir shop yesterday on the way back from Tiger Cave Temple and that the saleslady had wrapped so nicely to prevent spillage in my carry on. At 55 baht each, it was only a $5.50 loss, but I wish I'd had at least one of them last night to top off happy hour. Oh well, hopefully, the security guy, who looked like he could use a drink, will take them home and enjoy them tonight as I suggested he do before heading off to the gate, liquid free and, frankly, a little bit thirsty.

Are all of those rules and regulations that cabin crews announce pre-flight really necessary? I mean, if you take off with the Byrds "8 Miles High" blasting on your iPod, will catastrophe follow? I've tucked away my mobile phone without turning it off before a flight, and as far as I know, the pilot got off the ground without a hitch, and I lived to tell the tale today. And this afternoon, while flying home from Krabi to Bangkok, I didn't realize until halfway through the hour-and-20-minute flight that I'd never bothered to fasten my seat belt. Once again, I lived to chuckle about it. It was a smooth take off, though. I wouldn't suggest anyone try that at home -- or the next time you fly!

Do people in real life ever say things like "It's not what it looks like," "Nothing's going on here" and "Let me explain" when they're discovered in a compromising position? I know that burning question has nothing to do with Chulalongkam Day or traveling, but after seeing that tired scenario play out on some program I was watching on TV at Vogue Resort & Spa, and on way too many shows over the course of my lifetime, I had to ask. Just once I'd like the caught-red-handed party to say something cheeky like, "Well, why don't you pull up a chair and watch?" That wouldn't be particularly realistic either, or very nice, but at least it would be entertaining. Personally, I don't have any experience with being interrupted in flagrante delicto except when I've been discovered with my hands in the cookie jar (literally!), but if anyone ever caught me, say, joining the mile-high club, en route from Bangkok to Melbourne (where it would probably be most likely to happen, as Aussie guys toy with ability to resist temptation), wouldn't "It is what it is" be a more reasonable response than "It's not what it looks like"?

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