'Mai Pen Rai' means 'never mind' in the Thai language. It is the only Thai we know, a phrase learned ages ago and used infrequently, serving as a fond reminder of that Southeast Asian country.
During our two-day stay in Bangkok in February we found ourselves using it on several occasions.
|Street scene in Bangkok - portable eatery heading to its set up spot|
In fact, it came to mind during our first couple of hours in the country, beginning with the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel. Our driver spoke as much English as we did Thai. Not a good combination, we decided, as we set off while he was trying to tell us something:
|Rooftop restaurant and bar at Marriott Sukhumvit|
We were headed to the Marriott Hotel in Sukhumvit (the name of both the street and the neighborhood where this Marriott is located) when the driver, -- by then, speeding down the freeway -- finally got across to us that he needed an actual street address to get us there.
Our mobile didn't work in Thailand and the one thing I hadn't jotted down on my somewhat anal-but- useful, handwritten list of hotels and flights, confirmation numbers and details, was the street address for this hotel. After all, there is only one Marriott Hotel in Sukhumvit.
Oh, mai pen rai, problem solved when he handed us his phone and a Google search got him the address and Google maps got us there.
Arriving at the hotel, we had no baht (Thai currency) and the driver didn't take credit cards. We uttered another mai pen rai as the hotel's doorman assured us the front desk would provide payment and simply charge it to our room. It apparently wasn't the first time that travelers have arrived baht-less in Bangkok.
|Our room with a view - Sukhumvit Marriott|
Bangkok is where we boarded the cruise ship that took us to other ports of call in Southeast Asia. It was a perfect departure port as Bangkok is near and dear to our hearts. It was here -- many decades ago -- that we first considered having an expat experience. And for many years our expat daydreams were of a life in Thailand.
|Electric wires drape sidewalks and streets|
Bangkok, like New York, is a city that never sleeps. It's almost 13 million residents fill sleek, modern high rises and mid-century structures that stand side-by-side throughout the city.
|A mix of old and new|
Massive numbers of electrical wires droop and drape overhead as pedestrians make their way along congested sidewalks lined with mom-and-pop businesses and eateries that spill out onto the pathways.
|Eateries line the streets|
The mix of smells and sounds that assaulted our senses awakened our Thai love affair.
|Street eats across the street from our hotel|
As we made our way along neighborhood sidewalks the smells of street food cooking on small portable barbeques combined with the heady aromas of spices and fruits offered for sale. Car exhaust, honking horns, flashing traffic lights, passing bicycles all contributed to the kaleidoscope of sensory experiences to be had just outside the hotel.
|You snooze, you lose on Bangkok streets|
Rolling on the River
|We could see our ship in the distance docked on the Chao Phraya|
|Morning coffee on the Chao Phraya|
|Tugboats accompanied us just in case we needed them|
|River scenes on the Chao Phraya River|
|Thai Buddhist temple|
|River scenes along the Chai Phraya River|
|Modern freeways and bridges contrasted with other river structures|
|The Scout and The Scribe - a toast to Thailand|
|We were entering the Gulf of Thailand|