My oldest son (14) and I recently went to see Batman: The Dark Knight in the IMAX theater in Bangkok. We live in Chiang Mai (about ten hours away by train).
It was his first train ride and his first trip to Bangkok.
Although we arrived at the station on time, we couldn’t leave until the train had been thoroughly washed and had all its seats pivoted in the opposite direction.
The train ride from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is a little like a plane ride in that there are stewardesses (sorry, don’t know the politically correct term – rail attendants?) They bring you food and blankets for the trip. The seats were a little rickety and difficult to sleep in – especially at 3:30a, when the attendant decided that the lights should be switched on so that all the floors could be thoroughly mopped twice over (mopping taking place off camera).
Dinner consisted of some rice and a little soup. Breakfast was minimal, as well. My son couldn’t bring himself to eat whatever was in the roll.
The amenities were the typical Thai style – all the comforts of home!
It was a little difficult keeping my son entertained for ten hours. We were going to watch movies, but I forgot the DVD drive for my laptop. So, we ended up doing our best to sleep most of the way.
Eventually, we made it to Bangkok.
From there, we took the Sky Train to get to the movie theater. My son struggled with those turnstile machines, twice stacking up the locals as he tried to find where to put his card.
Once we made it to the theater, we realized that we weren’t the only ones headed to see Batman. This line was about an hour long even though we arrived as soon as the doors opened. For some unknown reason, we were pulled out of line and put into a VIP line of some sort. I felt more than a little guilty skipping ahead of about 30 people, but it was the only way we were going to make the movie in time, so I didn’t protest.
Since we were in Bangkok all day until our train ride back home that night, we had a movie marathon, seeing Batman, The Mummy and Journey to the Center of the Earth. We could have saved our money, though. Batman was the only movie we really liked.
When I tell people what we did, they typically point out that there are cheaper ways to see a movie, and they are right. But seeing a movie wasn’t my only objective. With my oldest, it takes a good 8-10 hours just to drain off the talk about video games and movie trailers. These topics are always at the top of his mind.
The real payoff on the trip for me occurred as we walked home together from the train station. During the 90 minutes or so it took us to get home, my son began to open up about spiritual topics, about school and about girls. We had a fantastic conversation….the best one in at least a year. I almost regretted getting home.
The deeper conversation never would have happened without the investment of time one-on-one, and sometimes that requires an investment of money to make it possible. It was worth it, and I would do it again.