Asia South Meeting

Getting to Bangkok

The Asia South Pastoral Group of the Maryknoll Society in Asia generally has a meeting in Bangkok in March. The meeting starts tomorrow morning and today started off as a normal Sunday in Phnom Penh and ended this evening at the Bangkok Christian Guest House.

This morning I had the 10:00 AM mass for the English speaking community and as I left the Maryknoll office I passed this woman with her load of recyclables. She is on the street every day, Sunday or not.
As I got near St. Joseph Church, the police were out taking bribes from the traffic passing by in order to avoid a fine for committing some offense the police would imagine.
On the way home from church, I passed this mother with two children, none of them wearing helmets. Her attire is not typical–and especially isn’t indicative of anything special like a tribal identity. The shawl is just to protect her arms from the sun so they don’t get dark and the long skirt is a motorcycle accessory for women that they velcro over their street clothes, again to keep off the sun.
After a quick lunch, I headed to the airport with Fr. Kevin Conroy and checked in with Bangkok Airways, a self-proclaimed “boutique” airline noted for offering a lounge to their economy passengers as well as the business and first class.
Phnom Penh International Airport isn’t much to look at on the outside but I was noting how different it is now from when I first landed in 1997 when the old terminal roof was sagging after being shelled in a firefight in a military coup the week before.
Part of the 300-mile route from Phnom Penh to Bangkok follows the coastline of the Gulf of Siam. That’s helpful if the day is clear and the pilot doesn’t know how to read a map.
We were thirty-five minutes late departing Phnom Penh but surprisingly there was almost no line at Bangkok passport control and we actually arrived at the baggage carousel before our baggage did. From there it was a one-hour taxi ride to the Bangkok Christian Guest House in town.