The Longest Day
My 22nd of September started as I tried to keep up following my boss and two of our late-middle-age clients through the frenetic night market lining the very narrow sidewalks of Silom Road in Bangkok. We then turned and circled around through the streets of Patpong. If you don’t know (I didn’t), Patpong is one of the three infamous sex districts of Bangkok – although it is probably the most well-known and aimed at foreign tourists, and largely got its start as a R&R location for American troops during the Vietnam War. The oldest member of our little group turned to me and said, “my eldest daughter said to me ‘Dad, if they talk to you about ping pong, they don’t mean table tennis’”. And right they were, as near-continuous hawkers get in your way, grab your arm, etc. saying “ping pong, ping pong”, all with seemingly similar small laminated signs that say “Show” or “Sex Show”. I won’t go into details, and have refrained from posting any pictures (I was too on-alert to take any, but as you can imagine there are a few on the Internet), but read about it here if you would like. For some odd reason, the signs made me think of the generic diner menu (as found in New Jersey and environs) – all seemingly come from the same source!
Right – not necessarily the appropriate way to mark the celebration of 5 years of marriage! But we certainly weren’t looking for such a show; in fact, my boss (who lived in Bangkok for several months about 15 years ago working on the planning for the now-completed project we were there to visit) was looking for a quiet bar he remembered. Well, we didn’t find that, and instead wound up at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub, where a Thai Beatles tribute band was playing…we managed to find an outside table with a view over the bustling sidewalk market, which turned out to be an alright place to recap and sum up the week’s work.
After wrapping up the last bits of Friday night on Saturday morning, I returned to the hotel and talked to Astrid back in London – where it was of course still the 21st – and then had a good night’s sleep. After a leisurely morning and catching up on some other work that had been ignored during the Bangkok meeting, I carried out the difficult task of repacking for the trip to the US. I’m proud, though, to have fit what I’d need for the next couple of days of travel into my smaller bag – and all without my expert packing consultant – and then headed for the airport.
The flight to Hong Kong felt ridiculously short – just 2:26 – and upon landing I set off to accomplish three important missions during my short layover – a shower, a call to my colleague working Saturday to prepare for next week, and a call to my beautiful bride, where it was then late afternoon. When we said good-bye, it had actually just slipped into the 23rd, and I boarded my 00:30 flight from Gate 3 at HKG, to cross the Pacific on a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER. It is an odd circumstance, it seems, to artificially extend a day by nearly 14 hours…when I boarded the plane, a flight attendant said “Good Morning”, and after take-off they announced that they would be serving supper (the menu confirms that brunch will be served before landing).
Now, as I write this over the frozen North Pacific 32 hours after the day started, with Anchorage in distant view on the airplane’s map, I’m still on the 22nd of September, having crossed the International Date Line sometime a bit ago while sleeping. Now, 2/3 of the way through the flight, I see a real mixture of people trying to experience day or night. It was of course dark when we took off, has been light outside now for a lot of the flight – with just a faint silhouette of light framing the airplane window – and will be dark when we land at around 21:30 on Saturday the 22nd in San Francisco.
After arrival, I will get to enjoy a couple of more hours of September 22, 2012, and continue to celebrate that beautiful day five years ago, when Astrid and I stood on a floating dock in Newport Harbor and said “I Do”. Even though we are physically on completely opposite sides of the world at the moment, our hearts are joined, and I send my love and anniversary wishes through the day and night sky to my love, the best partner in the whole wide world!