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Monday January 29, 2007 // By Sandy

Day 16+: Airports

The sequence of planning this trip went like this: Decide to go to Thailand; Buy plane tickets to Thailand; Find and buy tour packages that fit within this schedule. This worked out remarkably well. The only real glitch was an eight-hour gap between the last flight out of Koh Samui to Bangkok and our 6:30 AM flight home later. There was no way around it. Luckily, the fancy new Bangkok mega-airport features a dayroom hotel, so we thought we’d catch a few winks there between flights.

Calls to make reservations in the weeks beforehand were met with no answer, which made us a little wary. This ended up being a blessing, for upon arriving at the Bangkok airoprt, we discovered there was no way to get to the dayrooms. We tried. We stared at the airport map. We asked some pleasant but rather unhelpful security guards. We left baggage claim in search of it, realized the hotel was back on the other side, then snuck back in, but still couldn’t find it. We finally realized we were not welcome there. The dayrooms were in the international wing and were for international travelers, which, until we checked into our international flight (not possible until 3:30 AM), we were not. On to Plan B: the Novotel Aiport Hotel.

One long trek across the parking garage later, we walked into the very luxurious lobby of the Novotel. The clerk was helpful; they clearly got this kind kind of crazy request all the time. $75 for four hours, she said, resisting the urge to cock her head and wink. We passed. On to Plan C: All-nighter! Woo!

Tactically speaking, this made a certain amount of sense. By staying up that last night, we were getting a head start on the jetlag readjustment routine. If we could stay up until 6:00 or so, we’d take our seats on our flight to Tokyo and immediately crash. Then stay awake until Chicago, get home around 6:30 PM, and crash again.

It didn’t exactly work out that way. We made it through the one night without crumbling — surfing the web in the Novotel’s business center, playing Scrabble and German whist at the airport coffee bar, buying some last minute souvenirs in the glitzy duty-free mall at 5:30 AM — but it was the falling asleep that caused trouble. By 6, our bodies were suitably ticked, and wouldn’t let us catch more than a few minutes of sleep on the plane (which got out just in the nick of time, apparently). Then there was the three-hour layover in Japan, and the eight hours after that to SFO, halfway through which I gave up my battle and popped in a Lunesta. The next three hours were bliss.

It’s funny what a day of travel can do to a mind. Plane rides from San Francisco to Chicago used to seem long. Now, four hours would be cake, even if our only provided piece of entertainment was The Guardian and a seven-year-old episode of Friends. I finished my book, Sarah knitted for a spell, if a bit deliriously, and we got an hour or two more of winks before landing. My mom, bless her heart, not only met us at O’Hare, but brought along blankets and flannels for our tropically-dressed bodies.

Even after all that, we were disciplined enough to keep ourselves up for just a bit longer, in order to hit our proper bedtime and keep the CSTRP (CST re-acclimation project) on track. Thankfully, good old Tivo had some Offices saved up. We hit the sack around 10:30, exhausted but happy to be home, and thrilled at the familiarity that the next morning would bring.

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