We arrived in Bangkok at some ungodly hour at a bus station we were 100% unfamiliar with. We wandered around trying to get our bearings and figure out how to get to the city center. Eventually we found where the city buses stop and waited there for the buses to start rolling. I think it was 6am when they arrived and we took the only one we were familiar with. It took us to the MBK mall and from there we were able to decipher how to get close to the hotel we had booked a few days before. We were super excited because the whole time we were in SE Asia we had been really budget travelling. We rarely treated ourselves to fancy accommodations so we could make our trip last longer and have more money for diving and adventurous things. But we made a pact that we would find a nice hotel for the end so we could unwind and prepare for our journey home. The hotel we booked wasn’t the fanciest place ever, but it had an all you can eat breakfast, a rooftop pool and our room was HUGE. Which was perfect for laying out our crap and figuring out how to get 7 months worth of souvenirs and clothes into 4 bags. Anyway, we ended up having to walk a ways to get there, but it wasn’t too bad. And luckily they let us in our room early. I went straight to bed, while Ethan figured out how to get back to the storage place where we had left two bags. By the time he got back I was rested and ready to take on Bangkok one last time.
That day we headed out to Chatuchuk market. It is one of the largest markets in all of Thailand and you can buy anything your heart desires there. We were headed there for gifts for our families and for things that would remind us of our time in Thailand. We had amassed quite a collection of things from the other countries we went to already, but hadn’t gotten any Thai things because we knew we wanted to go to Chatuchuk. We spent the better part of the day there and had a lot of fun trying to find things for everyone and trying not to get lost. There is so much going on it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but we stayed calm and got what we needed. After the market we headed back for dinner and relaxing by the pool.
We also visited Khao San Road again (the backpacker hub), to get more souvenirs and get one last look. We also had to make one last trip to the mall for DVD’s and of course Pizza Company. As our days were winding down, I came to realize that I really enjoyed Bangkok (a much different view than my first impressions of the city). I still am not a huge fan of big cities, but as big cities go Bangkok is definitely on my favorites list. Once we figured out how to get around and were comfortable doing so, it really wasn’t as overwhelming as it first seemed. At this point we finally felt used to the heat and smells and were sad to be leaving.
We spent the better part of our last day organizing and packing. We slept very little in anticipation of our return flight. I was super nervous that we weren’t going to get a spot (buddy passes!! A blessing and a curse!) and really didn’t want to have to delay getting home. We got the airport, but they weren’t able to tell us whether or not we had seats until we got to the gate. We made our way through security and got up to the gate. We got our tickets (phew!) last and boarded the plane, but were really confused when we looked at the tickets. They were 12 A and B and we were way past 12 in Economy. Then we realized that we had secured first class seats! Allllllriiggght! We plopped down, while everyone stared. They were all dressed in business attire while we donned our baggy Thai pants, Ethan’s Red Wings Jersey and my really gross sweatshirt. It was 6 hours to Tokyo and it should have been a lovely and relaxing 6 hours. We each got our own pod, with a fully reclining seat and our own TV screens. They were even handing out mimosas and breakfast was delicious. I, however, was too revved up to enjoy it. I was so anxious about the next flight I could barely breathe. We touched down in Tokyo and didn’t have to run this time, which was great, but we did have to worry that there weren’t any seats. We sat down next to a girl who was also flying by buddy pass, but she was able to tell us that she had heard there were a few people who hadn’t shown up yet. Luckily none of them did and all three of us got seats. It was 11 hours of hell in a middle seat, but we made it to Detroit at 2pm. Deena and Steve picked us up and we stepped out into a lovely late April snow. I wasn’t even mad. We went straight to Panera and I had real macaroni and cheese for the first time in 7 months. It was heaven.
There ya have it! The end of a once in a lifetime adventure through South East Asia. It was all made possible by:
-all the wonderful Thai people we met in Thawangpha and those who we never knew their names that helped us out of several sticky situations.
-all the teachers we met and made friends with.
-and last but never least Emily, Shannon and Alexis who stuck with us and trusted Ethan to guide us through our month or so together. We love you guys and couldn’t have asked for better travel companions!