Nutshell summary to date:
Got a ride to SFO from a friend on Friday night, arrived at 9 pm, waited in line for 20 minutes to check in and another 3 hours for boarding. That plane left half an hour late, arrived in Taipei 10 minutes early. Full flight on an old 747. 14 hours of movies, but they only had Chinese classical music on the headphones, so the movie was worthless to those of us who couldn't read the Chinese subtitles. Superb food and okay service. Another 3-hour wait in Taipei, where they had us go through security again. So much for the concept of in-transit.
That plane took off half an hour late and arrived in Bangkok 10 minutes late. Super comfortable brand new 777, with personal video in each seat. 30 channels, no waiting. Plus 30 of audio, plus several games. Again excellent food, okay service.
Got to Bangkok and forgot my Plan A, which was to stay there overnight and head out for Chiang Mai in the morning so I could see the sights. Instead senile me booked a train in 6 hours. Stupid stupid, but it did get me a place to sleep on an air conditioned train for less than the price of a Bangkok hotel. And I missed all the scenery on account of it was dark.
The train left 15 minutes late, arrived in Chiang Mai 3 hours late. I wonder if they have been studying with Amtrak? Trains used to run on time here.
Had lunch, took a tuktuk to the bus station and waited till 10:30 for the alleged air conditioned bus to Mae Hong Son. It left on time, but arrived an hour late - 9 hours instead of 8. Long, incredibly scenic mountain jungle trip. Went through a camera battery, glad I had two more charged and handy. The lateness was mostly due to some severe flooding earlier in the month, the repairs ongoing made the trip very slow and bumpy from Pai, the halfway point, to Mae Hong Son. Also picked up and dropped off a lot of people in very odd spots along the way (this is usual - there is no scheduled transit out in the mountain jungles).
Just as I was about to close this, the sky opened up, thunder and lightning, and I'm probably stuck here for another 20 minutes. Bummer- I was going to buy some hills tribes clothing at the night market, but now it's been rained out. Tomorrow, I hope.
Interesting aside - everywhere you go in this town, the signs are in Thai, English and Hebrew. I asked a couple of places why, they said this place is a big vacation spot for Israelies, whom they can't stand. I can see their point. Everyone I talked to volunteered this info, and then did a kind of double-take when they realized I was able to read the Hebrew, and I kinda look like one, with the beard and all. Funny.
Been listening to Thai radio. Loves songs have a new cliche. They almost all have the word "samhkan" which means "big deal" or "major". When you want to assure someone that it's no big deal you say "Mai samkhan" (no biggie). So the love songs have the infatuated one telling the unrequiting one "you're definitely samkhan to me". I like it.
Well, back to life.