I find myself sitting in a plush armchair deep within the vast expanse of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s grand lounge, nursing a meticulously crafted Bloody Mary that might be just a tad too potent, even for my taste.
Contemplating whether to replenish my plate with more of the delectable Thai dishes artfully arranged on the extensive buffet or await the arrival of tender Wagyu at 30,000 feet, I decide to settle for a bag of freshly popped buttery popcorn, a treat the bartender has just prepared for a select group of loungers, to which I miraculously belong.
Despite the coziness of this bustling lounge, my thoughts drift to the late afternoons and early evenings spent strolling through the vibrant streets and alleys of the genuinely down-to-earth, working-class neighborhoods along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. I reflect on the delightful interactions with locals in restaurants, massage parlors, barbershops, food stalls, and the tiny terminal where we’ve boarded the little white ferry at least twice a day.
Today, my morning was dedicated to a visit to the barber, where I indulged in a head and beard shave executed with such grace and precision that it might have impressed even Herbert von Karajan. Following this, I spent an hour in conversation with an iconic Thai photographer who had worked for fashion magazines in New York during the 1980s and 1990s.
Before returning to our hotel, via the aforementioned ferry, I treated myself to a fantastic massage from a lady who, at some point in her life, might have been a professional wrestler.
Despite numerous visits to this consistently captivating country, my ability to communicate in Thai is embarrassingly limited (and perhaps a bit pathetic). Nevertheless, the roughly hundred words and dozen or so phrases I have mastered consistently elicit surprise and wide smiles from the Thais I converse with.
By making an effort to be exceptionally polite and at least attempting to socialize in their native tongue—with, as I’ve been told decent pronunciation—I feel that I’m reciprocating the same level of humbleness, respectfulness, and politeness that I often experience as a guest here.
In a couple of hours—two and some change—we’ll be boarding our Airbus, embarking on approximately 12 anxious hours high above the clouds before descending to what is arguably one of the world’s finest airports, Kastrup International.
From there, we’ll take the train across the Öresund Bridge, and after reaching Malmö Central Station, we’ll grab a taxi to our apartment. I know that once my house key clicks into the lock and we step inside on what will undoubtedly be some seriously wobbly, jet-lagged legs, this amazing adventure will be over.
Now, I think I need another Bloody Mary. And some more popcorn.