I am in our Bangkok apartment this week and next, with much to accomplish while I am here. This week alone I have had outside meetings every day. Today was an easier schedule however. My only meeting was to be a dinner meeting with a client whom I especially enjoy visiting. We had arranged to meet at a hotel where he would be completing a full day seminar he was attending. As the time to go hail a taxi approached, I thought it was a good thing that I was leaving just before 5 pm. That is usually a good time to dart out of the city as it precedes the main rush which gets underway by 6 pm. There was a taxi just outside and with my broken Thai I managed to get him to understand where I was going. On our street the traffic was light, and I thought my plan was confirmed. However, as soon as we hit the nearby primary road we engaged in a snarl that was relentless. Now I should mention that Bangkok traffic is notoriously snarled almost all of the time, so keep in mind that all things are relative. This was a major snarl. It took about 20 minutes to travel a single block. I knew pretty quickly that I wasn't going to make it to by the appointed time. I decided to give it a few minutes to see if it was a localized problem that we might break out of, but it simply got worse. So I called my friend to advise that we should either re-schedule, or he would be in for a wait. As soon as he heard my voice he said "I was just going to call you to tell you that the police and military types have cordoned off the hotel I'm in and some member of the Royal family has just arrived. You can't get in and I can't get out." Further, we had no idea how long this was going to last. Then I remembered that "Dubya" was in town.
We quickly resigned ourselves to the obvious and discussed a re-schedule of our meeting. I instructed the taxi driver to head back to the apartment. In Bangkok, this isn't as easy as it sounds. Traffic flow is poorly organized in most Asian cities but Bangkok is renowned for the inability to navigate based on the allowable turns, and dominant traffic flow (if you can call it that). It took another hour and a quarter to get back to the apartment. All in all, I spent just under two hours in a taxi. Mind you, I am the kind of guy that resents the time it takes to get a haircut. Overhead time is anathema to me.
After returning I went to my laptop to check email and browse news. There I found Mr. Bush's speech, which I felt somehow already invested in, so spending the time to read it seemed inevitable. It only multiplied my irritation, but then, you've heard this one before.