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How it All Started (Thailand Tuesday Installment #1)

Several readers have been surprised that I am writing from Thailand and that it is a permanent move for us, not just a vacation. I’ve had questions about why Thailand and how did I decide on Thailand as well as what the move was like and what I’m doing currently in the Land of Smiles.

So I thought why not start a weekly series where I can give you all the gory details of my love affair with Thailand, the process of setting myself up for the move, selling our stuff and saying goodbye to the States and what’s happening in our life here now.

So without further ado…

I should start at the beginning which was in 1997. I was 30 years old and had never been out of the country, but thanks to hard work and some luck I was heading off to Singapore to assist with a new office opening there for my company. Needless to say I was excited and a bit nervous.

Singapore was amazing, but even more amazing was the side trip planned by one of the companies directors. The last weekend in Singapore he suggested we headed to Bangkok for a long weekend. It was a short 2 hour flight and we would be back Monday for work. Holy cripes I thought, Bangkok. I was just getting adjusted to my time in Singapore and now I was off to Bangkok, the fabled sin city of SE Asia. Of course I agreed and we headed off to Singapore Airlines to book tickets. The next morning we were in the air and on our way.

Truly I had no idea what to expect from Bangkok short of insanity. You remember that song “One Night in Bangkok“? Well so did I and I had visions of debauchery and endless parties. It turns out that is part of Bangkok, but it is so much more than that as I’ve learned over the years.

After landing we were whisked off to our hotel, The Mandarin Oriental. Yes, one of the top hotels in the world. It was good to be traveling with a company director.

A short time later, checked in and showered up I got my first real impression of Bangkok. I still remember stepping out the doors from the air conditioned and mildly British Colonial atmosphere of the Oriental. It was like being tossed into a sauna and punched in the face all at once. Even though it was December (supposedly the cool season), the heat and humidity was phenomenal. After 5 minutes I was covered in sweat, but to tell the truth I hardly noticed. Bangkok was alive.

One thing you immediately notice is the press of humanity on the sidewalks. Hordes of people moving both ways, stands set up seemingly everywhere and selling everything from the expected food items to clothes and shoes, dvd’s, souvenirs and all manner of other items. Then the sounds hit you…a constant murmur of foreign voices, motorcycle engines, horns and bells and traffic and yells. Almost simultaneously you notice the strange smells, some delicious, some exotic and some downright repellent. This is how Bangkok assaults your every sense when you take to her streets for the first (and even the 100th) time.

And in that moment I fell in love with the city. Some might claim it to be bright lights, big city syndrome but I had been to New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and most recently Singapore. All great cities in their own right, but none capturing my heart like Bangkok did in that moment.

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