While I do complain about my lengthy commute (50-75 minutes each way), I must say that it beats driving myself for that amount of time every day. Only sometimes do I wish I had a car so I could take a different route to work or back home (I inherited my dad’s need for change of scenery — he rarely takes the same route twice in a row); a car might also be nice when I buy a lot of groceries, since carrying heavy bags hurts my shoulders. Anyway, the BTS SkyTrain is fast and convenient, and while I had to buy a fleece (in Thailand!) for the frigid temperatures and while it only gets me about 2/3 of the way to work, I do love it. Our apartment is attached to the Thong Lo station by a covered walkway, which is dreamy during monsoons. And the taxis I take every mornings are always there for me, and there are a handful of drivers who know me now, know my route, and are happy to get me to work five days a week. After a chance meeting with an English-speaking retired teacher on the campus where I teach (she used to teach at the Thai program; I work in the International Program), I learned how to catch one of the millions of commuter/carpool vans I see driving on the highways in Bangkok all the time. My new friend taught me a couple months ago that for 10 baht (as opposed to the 60-70 I might pay for my afternoon taxi ride), I can hop onto the van bound for the Mo Chit BTS station and be there in the same amount of time as a taxi. Sweet deal! I’ve thought about figuring out how to catch a van to school, but 1) I’m shy, and 2) I feel loyal to my drivers!
I tend to read on the BTS part of my commute. I just finished a David Sedaris book, and now I’m reading The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck. But in the taxis and vans, I get a little motion sick trying to read, so I listen to a lot of podcasts – Radio Lab, The Bugle, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, 60 Second Science, The California Report, Fresh Air, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and This American Life. I highly recommend every single one of those and am open to suggestions for more! Recently I started putting NPR All Songs Considered’s Tiny Desk Concert series videos onto my iPod to watch on the way to work, and while I’m the elliptical too. Artists and bands go to this little office to perform three or four of their songs. My favorites have been Macklemore, Chris Thile (there’s one with him and Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Myer, and Stuart Duncan; and one with him and Michael Daves), Phoenix, Josh Ritter, Nellie McKay, and Adele….oh my gosh and many more! I highly recommend you check these out either online or for free from iTunes.