This section doesn't have any picture galleries; I only added it because the story seemed incomplete without some account of how we got from Siem Reap, Cambodia back to Lexington, Massachusetts, but to call that "Part Four of the Angkor section" didn't seem right.

Bangkok, One More Time (Tuesday, November 29)

When it was time, we said goodbye to the friendly Peace of Angkor staff and ran the gauntlet of five-star hotels back to Siem Reap International Airport, where we were surprised to learn that we had to pay a departure tax equal to the tax we'd paid on arriving. At that point we had less than $100 US in our possession, so we had to cash a travelers' check at the currency exchange. Fortunately, they didn't charge singificantly more than for this service than the currency exchanges in Thailand, and since dollars are an officially accepted currency in Cambodia, we were able to cash our dollar-denominated travelers' checks without having to take riels first and then pay a commission to convert them to dollars.

The airport had a shop run by Artisans d'Angkor, the outlet for the guide's brother's work. We weren't interested in adding any more stone pieces to our baggage, but Dorothea bought a couple of small items. She also bought some coffee for the monks at a refreshment bar, and the young woman who sold it to her suggested that she also take some candy, as the alternative would be to receive the change in riels — pretty much useless for anyone about to leave the country.

In Bangkok, we all took a taxi to Saladang Place, and Jayanto and Punnyo came inside with us. This time the owner, Khun P, was in residence. Alerted by the front desk, she came out to meet us and escorted us to our quarters — a very fancy suite on a high floor, from which we had a view of Lumphini Park, with a statue of King Rama VI at the nearest corner. No sitting on the bed this time — the amply furnished living room/kitchenette had a bedroom on each side of it. Khun P visited with us there for a while. She spoke English — very good English — most of the time, but when talking with Jayanto about her spiritual practice, she switched to Thai. After the visit, she had her driver take the monks to their usual quarters under Khun ST's auspices.

Our flight back to New York was due to leave at 1 AM on the day after the next (that is, in about 30 hours) so, although we had booked two days at Saladang Place, we wouldn't be spending the next night there. On the other hand, we knew we'd be busy with last-minute details, so if we wanted a memorable last dinner in Bangkok, this was our only chance for it. So we decided to return to Bussaracum. We flagged down a taxi near the Boots drugstore on Silom Road and told him where we wanted to go, but our mispronunciation of Thai was too much for him, so Dorothea gave directions en route. Fortunately, she knew the Thai words for "left," "right," and (most important at the moment), "straight ahead." She kept saying that as we passed one side street after another, watching the signs until we spotted Pan Road just ahead, and she said "left" in plenty of time to make the turn. When Bussaracum's sign came in view, she said "tee nee!" knowing that this meant "right here!" because she had recently met a Thai woman whose family had given it to her as a nickname.

We arrived at the restaurant in considerably better shape than we had the last time. The staff remembered us and gave us the same attentive service. We had an excellent dinner there, and went back to the hotel in another taxi, whose driver — to cap the evening with a final triumph — did understand "Saladang" when we said it.

Flying Home (Wednesday, November 30 – 
Thursday, December 1)

Jayanto and Punnyo came to Saladang Place at about two the next afternoon. We had some gifts for them, and Jayanto had one for us. It was a beautiful small Buddha image, based on an Indian original, that was cast in bronze by the Thai artisans who cast the Buddha image for the temple at Abhayagiri Monastery in California, and it's the same except for the size. A number of these miniatures were cast as gifts for donors, and the artisans had asked Jayanto, who was there at the time of the casting, whether he would like one. Not for himself, he said, but he’d like his mother to have one. He'd been saving it at Khun ST's monks' residence for more than a year. We were moved and delighted, though we had some concern about adding it to our baggage — even a small bronze image weighs quite a lot. (In the event, however, we managed without difficulty.)

During a long afternoon of hanging out together, we got all our bags packed and, with the help of Khun P and her front desk staff, arranged for a van to pick us all up at 9:30pm. Dorothea and I went across the street for an evening meal at Jantanee, the small restaurant where we'd eaten on our first night at Saladang Place, and soon it was time to load everything into the van and plunge into the Bangkok traffic. It took an hour and a half to reach the airport. After the monks helped us check our luggage in, it was time to say goodbye to them, and we sent them back to their quarters in a taxi.

For whatever reason — probably wind direction or other weather conditions — the Thai Air flight followed a different route than the one we'd arrived on. Instead of heading almost straight north, it went northeast, skirting the Asian mainland, passed east of and parallel to the Japanese islands, and crossed the Aleutian chain and northwestern Canada en route to New York. Our journey home began at one AM on December 1, and when we walked through our front door before eleven, it was still the morning of December 1 — thanks to the magic of the International Date Line. The trip had, of course, taken 22 hours, not ten. Our 18-hour flight from Bangkok got us to JFK at six in the morning, and our flight from there to Boston took (in round numbers) from nine AM to ten. I spent some of that day sleeping, but it took much longer than it had taken us in Thailand to get accustomed to the time change. It was at least ten days before we both felt quite back to normal.

This page last updated 3-16-2007