"It's like you are sleep walking. Soon you'll wake up to find this is all one long, long dream"
Says my sister in law as we walked down to a popular road side resto.
It's been 40 hours since I touched down in Bangkok. The jet lag carried over from NYC-LA TED whirl wind exacerbated multi-fold since. Any chance I get to stay stationary for a short moment runs a high risk of immediate shut-down. It's a weird dream-like state where you are aware of your surroundings, but also not, all at once. My inner immune system screams vulgarities for this self infliction.
This is my second Thailand trip this year. I'm here for 72 hours. It's an ambitious 72 hours.
1am: N+J picked me up from Suvarnabhumi airport. I'm always proud that this is the airport that the Thais greet the world with. Neo-Thai architecture at its finest. We bee-lined to the famous pick-up truck with roasted pork egg noodle - a late night special for the inner city owls. Priority 1. We get back to N+J's condo, chatted, and part ways into our bedrooms. At this point I'm wide awake so I pulled out the computer to try to catch the last session of TED. I really wanted to see Brene Brown. But alas, the Internet was too spotty for a live stream in my room. Futzed around till 4am.
Time for hair and make up. The bridesmaid dress is in order. If I had the foresight to bring under eye concealer the pictures will probably look better. Oh well. 10am:
Full Christian mass wedding ceremony at the church. The building is an ornate Thai temple gutted with a giant gold Jesus in the middle. Definitely a strange surprise. The mass is conducted in English, with the actual wish speech to the bridge/groom done in Thai. There is a lot of kneeling, sitting, standing combination going on alongside various music and preaching. No one is allowed to wear sleeveless clothes. And the bridge and groom do not kiss. Nat (the bride) looked gorgeous. As for me, orose is not a good color for my complexion. But I am pretty proud to be Nat's bridesmaid. 3+hrs and a few photos later, we're back at the condo, exhausted. 4pm:
Decided it would be a good idea to have the bro call dad to arrange a meet up instead of doing it myself. Because I'm chicken shit like that.
7pm: a quick jet lag nap later we're back out again for the reception. Thai wedding reception is quite formulaic. It's always held at a hotel ballroom. Everyone dresses up in suit and long evening gowns. There's usually finger food and small open bar. You get in, sign the book, drop the envelope, line up in an area they call "gallery" where professionally shot pictures of the bride and groom doing lovey dovey poses scatter about. Sometimes you'll also see ice sculptures here (why? No one knows. This time they had two little teddy bears). The line leads to an area where the bride n groom stands to take pictures with everyone. It's a tiresome feat for the couple, as most receptions typically have over 500 guests. The guests mingle amongst themselves, taking more group pictures and catching up. This is where I see all my college buddies in one place -- easy to keep in touch with everyone over a single evening. Some time over the course of the evening the parents and the couple get on stage to share speeches (you can never hear what they say, because the mingling gets noisy and no one really pause to listen). Then they pull out a giant sword to cut a giant tier of ALL fake cake. Actually the cutting isn't even real. It's more like going through the motion of scoring a decorated pile of styrofoam. Thais consider it rude to not be invited to the wedding if they know the couple (or their parents or their extended family) in any capacity. You can imagine how the event can get very big and very impersonal very quickly. The more intimate gathering typically occurs at the after parties where the bride n groom's close friends gather for real drinking and dancing. There's no official after party gathering tonight tho. If I ever get married one day, you can guarantee I'll never a Thai style wedding reception. 10pm:
N (of N+J) doesn't know she's got a surprise birthday coming. We disguised it as our own wedding after party. The crew migrate over to Hyde & Seek - a cool gastro pub at the base of hotel Plaza Athinee nearby for food n drinks. A super fun night mingling, getting totally drunk, and eating ridiculously awesome salted caramel coffee cake from N's cousin's bakery. 3am: I'm now awake but beyond exhaustion. Time for bed. SUN 10am:
up again, rolling around in bed with N, chatting, giggling. We head over to the temple to do a birthday prayer for her. Funny how certain things you use to do so often in your youth becomes foreign now. Uttering the prayer used to be a daily chore. Now I can barely remember them. The temple knows this so they provide a read-along board.. Except I read way too slow. Mumble mumble. An amazing brunch with N's family at the Four Season hotel was followed by a visit to my fam. I was way too ambitious for my own good. It didn't take long to detour from the mom visit to an afternoon jet lag nap instead. Bro woke me up a few hours later (felt like minutes really) - and we were on our way to meet dad. 6pm:
I grew up with dad and brother for the most part of my memorable life. It was never conventional, never complete, but it also was never horrible. Most people who know the full story often wonder how I survived the family drama in a way that seems like I'm unaffected. Perhaps it's a case of still water runs deep.. I don't know. Anyway. Dad and I had a major brawl some 12 years ago and for more reasons than I care to share. We never talk since. This meeting was more emotional than anything I've experienced. We met at his favorite Japanese resto nearby. He always liked Japanese food. I still remember my first time eating sushi in 1st grade with full-on wasabi. That was his doing.
Dad was happy to see us. He's much older. Much fatter. Much happier. He said he almost died last year from cancer. He's proud of us. How far we've come in life. That he would love to be a part of our lives again. And he brought my favorite mangoes - the breed we used to grow at our old house 3 decades ago. He picked them himself from his garden. I hardly said a word. Nothing came out.
We parted ways. I was in a blur. Bro then drove us back to visit mom next. Mom was walking around the front lawn when we pulled in. She sort of expected me already so she wasn't surprised. "you got fat" was the first words from her. Hello was too normal I suppose. The next 30 minutes comprised of the usual lecture.Have you found a man? When will you marry? You are running out of time to have children? They will be stupid if you have them any older. And the finale: "I'm buying an iPad. "
There it is: the first 40 hours. We parted ways with mom and made way to get a meal with just my bro and his wife.
I'm not sure what to make of anything at this point. If this really has been a sleep walking dream, it sure is an exhausting one.
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