It's 9:38pm on a Monday evening and outside my hotel room, the air in Bangkok is deathly still. Little wonder really; it's too hot and humid to move anyway. I know this because I have taken refuge in my air-conditioned room, and I'm staring down into the hotel carpark, watching tourists come and go, fanning themselves with brochures they have obviously found in the lobby.
This is my first trip to Thailand, and I'm here for work - which is a lovely treat really, let's be honest. I even got to fly business class, on Emirates - so you mustn't feel sorry for me. Even in my jet-lagged state, when I feel like a human humidifier, I really did get spoilt rotten.
Sunday morning I was up early to make the final travel preparations. I've only ever flown business class once before, and that was on QANTAS, and I have no recollection what I wore that day. So I was struck with a bit of panic about how one is supposed to dress when one travels on Emirates business class. I settled on a knee-length black jersey dress, with a long black jersey cardigan over the top, with a pair of black wedged heels. On reflection, I probably looked like I was going to a funeral at 37,000 feet. But at the time I felt it was appropriate.
The airline organised a chauffeur-driven car pickup for me at 8.20am and I was downstairs to greet it on time. There was no traffic to JFK so our journey was a smooth one. Even at the airport the crowds were down, which just meant I had the fast-track into the Emirates lounge to kill some time. I've started reading "Cloud Atlas" and I kept one eyeball on that and the other on "Meet the Press", or some such current affairs show. Before long we were boarding and I snuggled into my little capsule-seat on the upper deck of the A380.
Now I am well aware you've probably rolled your eyes a couple of times already. I know how obnoxious this all sounds - chauffeured vehicles, airport lounges, business class tickets. But this never, ever happens to me normally. So when it does, I lap it up. Yes, I did have Veuve Clicquot the entire way to Dubai. Yes, I did put the seat down to a mattress bed and watch a ridiculous number of movies back-to-back. Yes, I did lay flat and sleep for at least 5 hours before overheating and waking up to the flight attendant staring at me to see if I needed more Veuve. And I declined his offer, deciding instead to enjoy a glass in the bar. On the plane. In my black jersey ensemble, with bed hair to boot.
We arrived in Dubai about 90 minutes behind schedule, meaning I had to leg it through the transit lounge and pretty much run to the other end of the airport to make the connection. But make it I did, and when I was finally on the airport bus to get to the plane, I got my first proper look at Dubai. What a contrast to places I've seen so far. Not as many date palms, for one thing. Did I really expect Dubai to be all palm trees and oases? Probably. But Dubai (or the airport at least) had this haze over it - like a fine layer of ash or sand or something. Not much green, not much activity. Then again, I suppose it was still early in the day.
Boarding my flight to Bangkok, it wasn't until we got above Dubai that I really got to appreciate its sprawl. I saw a couple of mosques with their pointy minarets, but so much of the city I could see was flat, low-slung, and seriously sprawling. The hotels, shopping malls and fancy restaurants must be off the flight path I guess. My flight attendant friend en route to Bangkok tried to ply me with a lot of Moet & Chandon, but I was wise to his scheme and fell asleep before it came to fruition. That will teach him to mess with an old lady. Moet and the last installment of the Twilight movie saga are the best sleeping pills you can find.
When we landed in Bangkok I made my way to immigration and believe it or not, actually ran into a lady I had met in March in New York. We had worked together on the World Down Syndrome Day Conference, and blow me down if she's not here for the same meeting as me this week! What a small world. And we're staying at the same hotel, so we kept each other company waiting for our luggage and then we shared my hotel car (which was one hour late, but I will complain about that another time). When we finally got checked in, the hotel treated us to a complimentary welcome drink that consisted of lemon juice, pineapple juice, and "green syrup" (which was not absinthe, although I was seeking something similarly potent). I could have stayed on that barstool for hours but my black jersey outfit was beginning to feel like a second skin and I had started to repulse myself. Bed time was declared.
And so my story ends where it began - in my air conditioned hotel room in Bangkok. My meetings don't officially start until Wednesday, so I've got tomorrow to prepare (and I have a bit of that to do actually). A complimentary fruit bowl in my hotel room suggests a healthy morning snack tomorrow, which should get me as far as the breakfast buffet in the lobby. And I suspect that will be a welcome relief, because I think it's going to be 39C and 4,000% humidity. All week.