Beginning the journey home

Another late day – the bus didn’t come until 8:30. We’re leaving lots behind – the Thai staff will sort and distribute everything – some things will go to the Burmese, some to the Thais, still other things to the Thai staff and other things will be saved for future working teams. Just our bungalow alone left 7 bags full of items we’re not taking home. The bus headed for Phuket – a daytime drive so we could see some of the country. We opted to just eat crackers and cookies on the bus rather than have a meal at our dining place. This whole “Burger King” at the Phuket Airport has everyone a little excited! I was sitting downstairs, listening to music and watching the view…at one point, I noticed 3 elephants standing in a yard and thought “oh look, there’s some elephants” – it didn’t really register that this was unusual. Then I recovered and yelled for Ryan “HEY – THERE’S 3 ELEPHANTS – LOOK!!!” We have no pictures of that since I was so slow in registering what I was seeing. A good portion of the drive was inland, out of the reach of the Tsunami. As we started to get closer to the ocean, we were passing piles of debris, just stacked in yards. The closer to Phuket we got, the prettier everything became. You can really tell where the biggest relief efforts have been going on. Fresh paint, fresh buildings, even passed a lot of freshly planted trees and bushes. Where the tourists are likely to go – it looks great. Got to the airport without a problem, unloaded gear and said good-bye to our bus. No more magic bus rides. Checked in and we all headed to Burger King. Steve, Ryan and I were first and were well into our hanburgers before the rest of the team walked in. (Sometimes Steve is good to have around – he knew what the line would be like once the rest headed over so we went first.) The plane trip to Bangkok is just over an hour – I am sooo glad we did it in this order, rather than flying down and taking the bus back. The Thai Crusade people flew back with us. At least one of them had never been on a plane before! And here’s one for you golfers – in the middle of the runways at the Bangkok Airport, there’s a golf course. Crossing to the next hole is a bit of a challenge while one waits for a plane to taxi by! After locating our luggage, we got into small groups and grabbed taxis to our hotel. We’re all feeling like pros by this point “oh yeah, we’re at the Gold Orchid” – we’re counting the minutes until we can get under the hot shower! We relaxed there for few hours and then left at 5:30 p.m. in 2 mini buses and a taxi or two to head to the Nightime Market. Rush hour. It took forever – over an hour…and it’s got to have been under 10 miles. The traffic didn’t move at all. Even LA traffic creeps during rush hour. The mini buses dropped us off at a different location – while we waited for the taxis to find us, the smells of the street vendors started our stomachs growling. There are carts of fresh fruit (the pineapple is so sweet) and carts full of things they’ll cook for you. Woks full of oil are everywhere and rows of raw foods are sitting out on the tops of the carts. It all smells incredible and you try to convince yourself that the hot oil will kill anything that might need to be killed. We finally were all together and we headed to a restaurant that Ted knows. Tables were set up for us and we grabbed menus to decide. My end of the table was all about steak, lobster, and potatoes. The middle was more daring – I heard “squid” and “cuttle fish” but didn’t even give it a second thought. While we were dining, a group of traditional dancers were entertaining us – the costumes were beautiful – a nice way to eat a nice meal. After, we headed out for some shopping, knowing there’d be taxis at 10 to take anyone back to the hotel. Steve and I just went up and down the immediate street outside the restaurant – there’s so much to look at…the tailors want you, the massage parlors want you…I found a 7-11 and got a fountain soda…with ice! We finished up and decided to call it a night so Steve hailed a cab. We’d all been told to get business cards from the hotel – the first cab we got in didn’t think he knew where to take us so we got out. The next was more confident and off we went. He tried to take us to another hotel but Steve convinced him that was wrong. Eventually, we found our home and headed off to bed. Our Bangkok adventure is almost over!

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