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Tim should be arriving in Bangkok in another hour or so.  We put her on the S-VIP (24-seat) coach bus at the Phuket Bus Terminal at 6:30 last night; the price for the 13-hour trip was 970 baht (a one-way ticket on Bangkok Airways would have cost just 700 baht more).  When I called her a half-hour later (once I'd gotten back to the house), they were watching a Chinese movie.  The terminal itself is open-air with approx. 12 bays for the busses to park in surrounding a central (covered) island containing seats and food stands.

While we were waiting, right at six o'clock, the Thai national anthem was played (as it is throughout Thailand at eight in the morning and six in the evening) and everyone stood up at attention.  Where I was standing, I saw an American teenager (well, he could have been in his early twenties) try to purchase something at the newsstand and then become irate when the clerk continued standing at attention; he couldn't figure out what she was trying to indicate to him with her eyes and then turned and he saw that everyone else was also standing in respect.  I've gotten to the point where I can almost sing along to the anthem.

Most of yesterday was dreary and rainy.  After receiving the call that Miao's baby had been born, Tim decided to sleep for a few hours more.  I spent the working on the laptop and also called Dad & Lyn to inform them that we can now call them great-grandparents!  When Tim woke up a little after nine, we drove over to Big C in what began as a light drizzle but became a downpour by the time we reached the shopping center.  At least this time we were prepared, both of us wearing waterproof windbreakers covered with those plastic garbage bag-like rain covers.  It was almost an enjoyable ride — until a car sped by with it's left-side wheels in the little trench of water that runs down the middle of the road, succeeding in drenching us with a steady stream of water for some distance.  At the store, we bought some groceries so I'd have plenty to eat while Tim is in Bang Pa-In; I also bought a couple of the best-tasting cream cheese brownies that I can remember eating.  A last stop was at BUS Computer in the basement of the Big C building so I could get some blank CD-R's and jewel cases (I plan to spend much of this week burning various downloads and other music I have on the laptop).

Our original plan was to take Tim to the bus station by flagging down a tuk-tuk on the main road.  However, that went out the window when Lek and Jum showed up.  They decided that we would take two motorbikes, carrying Tim's large and heavy suitcase (she packs like she's going to be gone a month instead of a week) on one (Jum insisted on holding it) while we followed behind.  Then, Lek would drive me back home on one bike while Jum headed back to her new job in Patong.  Luckily, it wasn't raining when we set off.  But, just opposite from the Muay Thai boxing camp north of the TOT complex and Tsunami Victims Identification Center, the back tire went completely flat (this is the third or forth flat in the last couple of months — I think they just patch the innertube rather than replacing it).  We dismounted and Tim called Lek on her mobile (they had gotten quite a bit ahead of us); they returned and since there weren't any nearby tire shops Lek drove Tim's motorbike (slowly) back to our house while the three of us waited on the side of the road.  She returned on our Suzuki (her old one which she had given me as a gift which I'd been thinking about selling).  We continued on, stopping to add a bottle of gasoline to the Suzuki's tank.  It began raining when we arrived at the station and I gave Lek some money to go and purchase Tim's ticket (I dind't know she would buy the most expensive one but I felt better knowing she would be travelling in relative comfort).

UPDATE:  Just as I was writing this (6:50a.m.), Tim called me from Bangkok.  She sounded very happy and asked me two questions:  did I sleep okay last night (I didn't) and did I drink Ovaltine this morning (the first thing she does each morning is make coffee for herself and Ovaltine for me).  She's taking a taxi to Bang Pa-In for 400 baht which sounds like a pretty good deal (it would have cost me, the white Westerner farang, probably about the same amount to get from one bus terminal to the other within the city).  More good news:  Tim informed me that it wasn't raining there (I'd read online last night about a severe flood warning in Bangkok and the provinces).