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‘The land of the smile’

Matt Lauer shares his thoughts from Bangkok, Thailand, day four of his worldwide tour.
/ Source: TODAY

Nearing the homestretch of my journey, the ride from Paris to Bangkok was a long one. We left the set and headed to the airport as the show ended — waving goodbye to the Eiffel Tower and the romantic “City of Light.”

THE FIRST LEG of our plane trip would take us to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for a one-hour fuel and crew change. This airport is known for its huge duty-free shopping, so we indulged a bit during our stay. Soon it was back on the plane for the six-hour flight to Bangkok.

Our arrival was smooth — and very quickly out of the airport one thing was clear — the temperature would be our biggest obstacle on day four. It was almost 90 degrees with at least 90 percent humidity — scorching both in the sun and in the shade.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I headed straight for a suite where a tailor was waiting to take my measurements. No, I hadn’t run out of clothes to wear. This was for something special. Bangkok is known for its tailors who construct entire suits in 24 hours. For me (and an appearance on the “Today” show) he would do it in just six. He would present the suit to me on the show.

After my fitting, I was able to have some lunch and take a last look at my notes. I would be interviewing Princess Ubohn Ratana at the Grand Palace. I wanted to be prepared.

We took a small boat up the river for the trip to the Palace. In Bangkok, traffic can be a real problem. Using the waterways can be much faster.

I arrived at the palace and was in awe of its beauty and elegance. The buildings glitter with gold and tiny windchimes hang from every eave, tinkling in the wind. The massive stone and marble structures intensified the heat, we would still have a couple of hours before nightfall.

We did the show from 6-8 p.m. local time.

It was the perfect time of day as we (and the viewers) were able to see the transformation of the palace from daylight to nightfall. As our show lights lit up the statues and corners of the buildings, we were transformed. It was breathtaking.

At the close of the show, I was handed an envelope, indicating my destination for day number five. For those who saw the show — you likely noticed by my reaction that I am looking forward to it.

My trip is almost complete — can’t wait to share the final day.