My heart is racing with excitement. I stand motionless in a sea of people. No one else seems awestruck by the lights, sounds, and smells that meld around me. But I am elated. I have finally arrived. The Bangkok International Airport Baggage Claim Area #7.
Seriously. That’s how I felt when I got to the airport. Despite having been in plenty of airports in foreign countries before, the fact that I was finally in Thailand, after all those months of agonizing and planning, thrilled me. I was jet-lagged, dirty, and purely happy.
Before leaving, I was anything but happy. I was terrified that I wasn’t brave enough to travel alone. I’d never done it before. I’d never been to Southeast Asia before. My doubts nearly floored me as I boarded the plane. But 20 hours later, I got my backpack and headed into the pick-up area feeling confident for the first time.
One of my biggest insecurities was that I was arriving very late and would have to take a taxi to the hotel alone. Not that taxi drivers are in the habit of kidnapping people, but I felt sure that as a WOMAN ALONE AT NIGHT, something bad was bound to happen. But my driver was perfectly nice. We both commented on how hot it was (super very hot) and set off into the city.
At one point, we exited the highway and drove into a fairly deserted gas station. No lights on, a few abandoned cars, slasher music in the background. All my confidence drained as I was sure this was the part where I got kidnapped. But, as it turns out, it was just the part where he got gas. Because we went to a gas station. There is such a fine line between healthy fear and irrational paranoia. Fifteen minutes later, he dropped me off at my hotel very un-kidnapped.
A young Thai woman greeted me at the door as I was unloading my bags. She looked past me and asked, “Alone?” When I told her that I was alone she looked pleased and nodded her head, a little impressed. She helped me check-in and asked if I needed a map. I told her I did as it was my first time in Bangkok. She replied with a slightly astonished, “It’s your first time and you came alone??” Well. I guess I did. She gave me a huge smile and said, “Good for you!” Though I’m not sure how impressed she’d be if she knew the escape plans I was plotting at the gas station, I couldn’t have appreciated her words more.
All I’d done was get from the airport to my hotel, but I went to bed feeling like I’d conquered the world — or at least the road to Bangkok.