Erin and I spent nine days in Thailand rehearsing, lecturing and giving workshops, thanks to Jodi Piriyapongrat of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and the U.S. Embassy there. We were primarily in Bangkok but also flew up to Chiang Mai for a few days for the purpose of Embassy Outreach in their schools.
The people in that country were wonderful to us, especially the teachers and their students. We are also truly indebted to The Three Lads--three of Jodi's students--who drove us everywhere and were in all ways so helpful, including Wheelchair Management when distances were a bit long for my crutches. The teachers received our work warmly and we even managed to make a few of the students laugh from time to time, despite language difficulties and necessity for translation. Most Thais know English--it seems to be their second language--but the younger/less educated they are, the less they know. Their kindness, however, knows no bounds. While visiting Buddhist sites, we were at the Reclining Buddha (Obama saw it some years back) and I was in my wheelchair. The steps into the shrine were just too tall for my crutches, so I was just going to stay out. The man managing the entrance called up three of his buddies and the four of them lifted me up those steps and into the building, wheelchair and all. (It was quite the sight; google it). They also did the same thing at the exit. You can't get any kinder than that and I really can't imagine anywhere else where that could have happened.
AND. . . . Jodi managed to get us housed in the Siam Kempinski Hotel in Bangkok (google Kempinski). It was the most lavish, beautiful hotel with the best service that I have ever experienced. And the included breakfasts were not to be believed. Run by Germans, natch. The handicapped room we were in was spectacular and was the finest and most efficient I have ever experienced. And the mini-bar was included, as was morning coffee service. Sigh. Double Sigh.
Did I mention the food? Well, now I did. Wonderful, but my favorite is still tom yum soup. The hotel's western food in one of their three restaurants wasn't bad either, though the wiener schnitzel left a bit to be desired. Oh. And I had to teach them how to make a martini, a task that seems to follow me all over the world.
The only bad thing about the adventure was 20-hours of flight time each way. And our return flight Tokyo-Houston was delayed seven hours, which meant spending a night in a cheap hotel in Houston. Groan.
Small prices to pay, though, for nine wonderful days. Lucky us.