May 11, 2009

Thailand Adventures (Day 1)

Here I am. Waiting for the first of many trips to get to Thailand. I was hoping to hold off on writing till I got to at least Vancouver, but they always tell you to get to the airport at least 2 hours early, so you can wait and shop at the duty free I guess?

Got through security without a hitch which is a nice change of pace for me. Anyone who knows me well, knows that me and airport security were never a match made in heaven. Luckily my Dad has become a really paranoid dude when it comes to traveling. He was the guy who informed me that not more than a week ago, Thailand was in a great big upheaval between protestors wanting their current Prime Minister out, which turned into a big ordeal with the military getting involved and a few civilians dying. Little did my Dad know, that just made me want to go even more!

I mean how often in our sheltered little boxed-city-life do we get to say we were there when history was being made? I’m not one for violence, but something like this just gets my blood going. I hate being on the other end of the media and not getting a full understanding of what is really going on in the world. But I’m getting off topic.

Like I said, my Dad is a paranoid kinda guy, and he is also aware of my past dealings with airport security. So, he informs me that I might want to pack any and all liquids in plastic sealable bags before getting on the plane. Well, $2.00 later from a Safeway and all my shit that could fit in a Ziploc Bag was sealed up shut. My camera? Check. My passport and money? Check. All my headache/sinus/cold/flu meds? Check. My PSP, my pens, my shampoo and toiletries, all sealed up. I was a hermetically sealed up dork.

When I said goodbye to my friends and family before this trip, I thought for sure I was going to get a little misty-eyed at the thought of leaving everyone. Not a drop was shed. That is until I closed the door on my room at work, and locked the door to my apartment. The hell is that all about? Maybe there’s something about saying goodbye to freedom or my home that hit me, maybe it was the idea of leaving behind my comfort zones, who knows? But yeah, I could feel a frog in my throat at those two points.

Before going on any trip, there is always something unknown that I freak out about. Not like panic attacks or anything, but just something that gets me a little anxious about a flight. Sometimes it’s the take-off, I just don’t like the feeling of a plane lifting off the ground. Sometimes it’s this moment of dread like I’m never coming back. But on this trip, the one thing I was so extremely self-aware, or self-conscious about, was the potential ass sweat that I would have sitting in a plane for an extended period of time. Come on, you never want to be the guy someone sits next to who reeks like a Scottish toilet. Or be sitting in a pair of jeans that feel…musty. So yeah, bring on the terrorists, I could care less. Just don’t give me crotch rot on this trip.

This sounds like a joke but I’m being very serious. I even went out of my way to ask friends and family what I should wear on the plane to avoid this plague. So as I sit here writing the first few words of this journal, I am clothed in jeans, a wife-beater T-shirt, my zip-up hoodie, runners and my ball cap. I figure the trip from here to Vancouver is going to be the trial run for wetness. If I think I can’t handle it for the connecting flight, I can easily change into something else. Shorts, long-sleeve shirt, and maybe underwear might be a good idea?

The night before this, I was taken out for a last night on the town with all of my co-workers. When we got to the bar, a co-worker informed me that she had a surprise for me. She had brought a friend. A friend…who had an “interest” in me. Somehow between seeing me on a tape of my co-workers wedding and seeing my little Facebook write up, she decided I was a half-decent looking guy and was heading out to meet the real deal tonight. So naturally I go from good-time, crazy ass Jason that we all know and love…to babbling idiot who realizes he looks like shit.

Luckily I got over the whole rush of being on a “set-up” and saw the girl for the first time across the room. You know how they say, you can always judge the way your friends view you by the people they set you up with? My friends…think I am the bomb! This girl was beautiful! Tall, blonde, thin, wicked smile, great sense of humor…and what a nice bum! Yes, I Jason Brasher have become an ass man. Don’t get me wrong, the butt comes second to the face, cause if you’re not attracted to the face, it makes waking up next to that person really awkward. But yeah, the whole night I kept having to work it out in my head, this girl was interested in me!? By the end of the night, she had my phone number and by the time I got home after the trip, we were going to get together. Not a bad start to a much needed vacation.

Okay, so I’m finally on the plane now and heading out to Vancouver. I am seated next to a hippy who must be going back to the homelands he came from. My worries about crotch stench are given the back seat for now. Cause if anyone can smell something coming off of me over the reek of this dude next to me, they must have super-smell. Dry as a bone down there right now. So far, so good.

Looking out over Canada is something to behold. You can just make out the lines of the dirt roads that separate all the farmlands from one crop to the next. It makes the whole province look like a great big patch-work quilt. Now that we are finally seeing the end of winter, all the snow has pooled up in spots across the land. Connecting to rivers or floodways that move south, making the land look like the skin on a senior with liver spots and veins rising to the surface. Some of the larger rivers are half frozen over still, and other parts seem to have dried up, leaving a pathway where water once ran through. The wrinkles of seasons past I guess? And after spending countless months blanketed in an overcast cloud of grey, it’s nice to have the plane rise up out of the clouds and have the chance to see blue skies again.

Made it to Vancouver. My pants are dry, I don’t smell too terrible, and I’m eating a decent meal at some swanky airport restaurant. I don’t know why but I’ve always had a love for Vancouver. I mean I have no reason to. Every time I come here it’s either raining or overcast, today being no exception. But I guess despite the weather I’ve collected more than a few childhood memories here to look past that.

I remember staying here with my family at the Granville Hotel on Granville Street. My Mom had heard that visiting Granville Island was a must-do in the B.C. travel itinerary. Little did she know that there is a huge difference between Granville Island, which is full of musicians, crafts, theater, festivals, and all around good-natured hippy stuff, and staying on Granville Street, which is in the downtown area of Vancouver. We found out just how different the first night when from our balcony, my sister and I watched a drug bust at 11:00 pm across the street. Shoot out and all. The next morning, taking a walk down the streets, we found almost as many McDonalds and Coffee shops as there were Porn shops. 2-1 was the going rate.

As cool as that was, the best thing about going to B.C. was the getting there. We used to always travel by train, helps when you have a Dad who works for the railways. This is the only way to travel as far as I’m concerned. Sure the airways have faster travel times and are less expensive, but traveling by train is leaps and bounds from air travel. The difference is the experience, the journey not the destination.

For one thing; Leg room. C’mon airplanes, enough with the teeny tiny living spaces. Make bigger planes and space us out a bit for Christ’s sake.

For two; Maneuverability. If you want to get up and stretch your legs a bit, you have train after train after train to explore. And I have to admit, crossing the joints of a train when it’s in motion makes you feel like you’re in some sort of Alfred Hitchcock thriller, trying to get through to the dinning cart and escape the Russian spy hot on your tail who wants to take back the secret documents that are hidden within the porcelain doll that you’ve somehow obtained. I should mention that I have to wait in this airport for 5 hours before my connecting flight and my mind tends to go off topic. Bare with me.

And the third and final reason why traveling by train is awesome; The Observation Deck.

I remember as soon as we were all settled in our spots on a train, I would take off and head down to the observation cart. I’d grab the seat closest to the front and right beside the window. I’d have my little walkman with me playing the now classic album, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” by Van Halen, I’d consume multiple packages of these little pink and white tick tack candies that they provide for you with the odd box of Cracker Jacks and suck back a can or two of “C Plus”. I’d sit there for hours rocking and bouncing in my chair watching the prairies blur past me. See the skies reflected in the lakes and look above my head to see the enormity of the Rocky Mountains before going through a tunnel and being consumed by them.

It was even better at nighttime because you’d get to see the night sky lit up in its brightest glory. Enough to illuminate the entire car. Every so often the train would slow down and pull into a small town. Through the late night haze, you could see passengers getting on and off the train. People struggling down the ramp at the station with their luggage in tow. It seemed very haunting, even as a kid, seeing all the houses in the distance. All the lights out except for the street lights bouncing off the rooftops letting you know that they exist. All the towns people asleep in their beds while you crept in and out of their little hamlet. Before you knew it, the train wheels would squeal back to life as you'd slowly leave the town in the dust.

One thing about this trip that I wish I had planned ahead for, was the amount of time I’m staying here waiting for a flight. I have a friend who lives here that I could have hung out with till my flight time came. A good friend who I haven’t seen since high school. How does one sum up a friend like Fiona?

I met her one day in high school when I came cart-wheeling into the lunch room on a fresh Pepsi caffeine-high. Dressed in my usual grunge grab and with longer hair than most of the girls in the school, I leapt up onto the table Fiona happened to be seated at. I was basically straddling her face before I realized there was someone seated there. I looked down at her and said, “Hi! I don’t know you!? I’m Jason!”

“Hi there, sparky! I’m Fiona, and you just totally cracked my back.”

After that day, a friendship so very unique was born.

She went to a different high school than I did, how she ended up at mine that day I have no idea. We never became the kind of friends that hung out every day or every weekend even. We would see each other maybe a few times in a year if we were lucky and just be totally over the top happy when we were together. She was one of those people who listened to music unknown to you, dressed in a fashion that no one else would dare to at the time. An old soul with an unrivaled vocabulary. But the real friendship came from some the late night phone calls we shared.

Every so often, in the middle of the night my phone would ring. The conversations would start with her either having a problem she needed to confide in someone with, or there was a boy she liked who was not falling head over heels for her, (which seemed completely impossible to me). But from there, we would talk into the late hours of the morning. She was the first person, well I guess girl-wise, that I could confide all my deep and meaningful thoughts to. Nothing that crossed my mind was silly or unimportant when I talked to her. My passions, my problems, my ideas, notions and everyday thoughts just spilling out to her.

She is the girlfriend I never dated and one of the few who knew the real, uninhibited “me” back then. If I had never known this girl I don’t think I would have been as open as I am today. I don’t think I would be as comfortable or as confidant about myself as I feel I am.
I hope everyone in life gets to know someone like her. Or at the very least have a friend who comes into your life and leaves as mysteriously as they appeared, leaving behind something special.

Well, it’s almost time to meet the rest of the group on this trip, so for now my pen is being put away.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! You have to keep us interested and keep us utd on things with the girl ;)