Preview for our trip to Thailand

My daughter in the Peace Corps has posted this video chronicling some of her experiences during the month of January, as apology for not blogging as often as she should:

Please accept this video in exchange for my lack of blog posts/ updates recently. I figure if a picture says a thousand words then a video says a million and that about makes up for my many months of silence.

For my wife and me, this video acts as a sort of trailer, previewing what we are likely to see and hear when we visit Thailand next month.

Yes, we’ve decided to take the plunge and go, both because we haven’t seen our youngest (in person, not counting Skype) in a year, and because, you know, when will we ever get the chance again?

So for the last few months, whatever free time we can find has increasingly been tied up in preparations. First, we had to get new passports. Then, we started the incredibly challenging process of deciding what to take with us.

Why is this so challenging? Because someone involved in this expedition, not yours truly, decided that we should take only what we can take in a single carry-on bag, to avoid the possibility of having to chase checked luggage all over Asia.

This is fine for members of the gender that washes their smallclothes out in hotel room sinks and hangs them on the shower curtain (perhaps some of you gentlemen have noted behavior of this sort). But that’s not my style of travel.

My style of travel was in vogue during the Gilded Age, and involved steamer trunks and servants to carry them and hiring entire floors of the best hotels, and people such as Henry James and E.M. Forster writing books about one’s experiences.

We traveled in a modified form of this fashion to England awhile back. It was the dead of winter, so I packed everything conceivable, most of it into a wheeled suitcase that was almost, but not quite, as large as a steamer trunk. Plus a backpack-style laptop case, into which I crammed said laptop, accessories, drugs and toiletries and a change of clothes in case the big bag should be lost.

Not so this time. Everything must go into a backpack only slightly larger than the laptop bag. It arrived yesterday — an Osprey Farpoint 40, guaranteed to meet the carryon regulations. I’ll keep you posted on efforts to pack it with all I’ll need for 17 days.

If I sound discontented over this challenge, I am not. I see it as an opportunity to strip down to essentials, like Nick Adams in Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River.” If you’ll recall, the war-rattled Nick has to justify the decision to indulge himself with a jar of apple butter by rationalizing that if he’s willing to carry it, it’s OK.

I’ve already decided not to take any apple butter — so you see, I’m making great progress…

3 thoughts on “Preview for our trip to Thailand

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, technically, Nick said “I’ve got a right to eat this kind of stuff, if I’m willing to carry it” with regard to a can of pork and beans and a can of spaghetti.

    But he also carried apple butter, and I thought that a more likely candidate for rationalization than the other items.

    Here is an estimate of what Nick carried. I will carry less…

  2. Chris

    My son spent years in Thailand and after reading your blog entry, he wrote the following:

    I enjoyed all of this, beginning with the punning title of the blog and continuing through the video. Liked everything about the video, from its amateurish production and editing through the reminders of Thai cooking, Thai rural life, coconut milk, the Skytrain and Chao Priya in Bangkok and even the tacky stage shows of kids.

    It will be mistake to bring only a carry-on to Thailand, where it will be in the high 90s with peak humidity and daily monsoon rains. Of course, one can and Mr. Warthen probably will buy lots of inexpensive spare clothes once there, if only for something to wear while the sweat and rain dry from everything else.

    Which raises a variant on Warthen packing plans. Go with the carry-on. But buy a big checked suitcase in Thailand and fill it with all the stuff (clothes, souvenirs, etc) they’ll be bringing back.

    They are going to have a great time. Interestingly, Thailand is even more of a mess than normal of late. Still under martial law, with the ruling general bridling when our Assistant Secretary recently suggested it might be time to restore democracy soon.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thanks for sharing that, Chris!

      I’m thing about checking one bag, as we need to take presents for our daughter’s “family” in the village where she is. We’ll actually be spending a night or two with her “grandparents.”

      This is a decidedly non-touristy trip…

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