It's like stepping into an oven!

It took a long time, but now everything is up and running! On September 28, 2006, Bangkok's new airport went into operation; the Suvarnabhumi Airport. During its startup phase the new airport will handle 45 million passengers per year, later up to 100 million passengers. We would like to wish the operators of the new airport a good and above all safe start with their operations.The headline isn't mine, I read it somewhere on the internet. With this sentence the author describes how he felt upon visiting the idyllic climatic spa city of Bangkok. Like every traveler, I also got clued-in via the internet prior to making my first trip to Asia and stumbled upon the unknown author's aforementioned travel report.

What a wimp, I thought. I had lived in Los Angeles for a while and thought I had experienced the maximum smog and air pollution. Keeping the author's rosy comparison in mind, I finally got out of my comfortably air conditioned airplane and strolled through the pleasantly cool Bangkok Airport. Almost chilly, I passed through immigration, customs, etc. etc. and made my way in the direction of the glass sliding doors at the exit. Bangkok, here I come! With a contemplative smile, I thought about the allegedly wimpy author, that sissy.

The door opens and it is like I have been hit on the forehead by a baseball bat at full force; my heart stops beating, I gasp for air and stagger in a daze. I think to myself, oh God this is like stepping into an oven, no it's like stepping into a convection oven into which is pouring the exhaust pipe of a 38 ton truck that didn't pass inspection! A policeman with a gasmask smiles at me. Still dazed and with my last bit of energy I make my way out of the convection oven into a taxi refrigerator.

Dear unknown author, I'm sorry! You are not a wimp! For now I'll spend 4 days in Bangkok and then go on to Koh Samui. Man, this is really an amazing, exciting vacation. Not the usual Lake Garda crap! Once I had acclimated myself that evening, I went on my first outing to Sukhumvit. Of course I knew that it is hot in Asia, so why should I complain about it. But this smog is unbelievable. At night you can even see it in the light shining from the headlights of cars.

So, the hotel's glass doors are opened for me by a friendly Thai, I take a step outside and am once again hit in the face with the baseball bat right in the middle of my stupidly staring tourist face.

Apparently it doesn't get cooler at night, I think. Nope, it doesn't. So I set off, a couple hundred meters up to Sukhumvit. I'm not yet out of the hotel's driveway, when I'm overtaken by the pleasant smell from a nearby grill. Who is grilling around here, I think to myself, when then I see it: a street grill with hundreds of sate skewers, each one more tempting than the next. I can barely control myself. Man do they smell good and so many of them … Must have, must have, must have, I think. I point at every kind of skewer and get them wrapped in paper pressed into my hand. As I joyously chew on my skewers, I think about the travel tips I read on the internet. Never buy skewers on the street… the chicken meat is not properly cooled … if you're lucky then it might be chicken and not rat, mouse, cockroach, spider, blah blah.

I look at my skewer. I remember another piece of advice from the internet: only eat things that have wings, then you'll know that at least they're not rats. I look at my skewers again. No wings to be seen. I step into Sukhumvit Road!
So, look at that, I think to myself, that's how it is in Asia. It's really quite exciting here. Up until now I was a fan of America, but I was familiar enough with that, I didn't have too much money left over this year and vacation in Europe? How un-cool. The really exciting thing about Asia is that it is really so much more different from Europe or America.

The smells, the people, the climate, the food, the prices, the atmosphere, almost everything is different from the usual and familiar. And I can experience all of these impressions on my first outing. Oh yes indeed! And there's the first Girly Bar, so I hop right in and order a "Singha" like a man of the world. They speak English here, cool, so there won't be any language problems. I'm really glad to finally be able to sort out my thoughts and impressions in the bar, which isn't so easy with the girls and an elephant prancing around in front of the open air bar. Another Singha please, wait there's also pitchers, alright! One pitcher of Singha please! 200 Baht please, the girl replies!
I observe everything going on around me and drink the tasty, ice-cold Singha. Yes, I like it here, now I'm slowly starting to figure out how things work. I order a slice of pizza.