Yes, this is lengthy. If you’ve ever had me tell you a story, consider this the written, rambly, exciting version of that 🙂
I like to view my approach to travel as exciting. Others might call it haphazard, but that just sounds negative.
This week, as I started my new job, my last hoosier girlfriend (Mandy) left my side and headed back to America. She said it had something to do with a job, school and boyfriend. Personally, it felt like abandonment, pure and simple. Who knew how dependent one could become on another’s
scoffing laughter in just 3 short weeks?
Before her send-off Tuesday evening, we decided to have one last adventure in downtown Bangkok the night before. In hindsight, we could have made better plans. Perchance, heading into the intensity of Bangkok, without a plan, the evening after I my first day on the job, without an interpreter, while I carried my 5 ton laptop around, and humidity is 94%, both wearing skirts, was not the best idea.
Still, travel ought to be entertaining, right? We have a great story out of it. One which I am getting around to sharing (promise!!).
Along with the aforementioned exhaustion, heat, chaos and confusion, let me add that we hadn’t eaten and the sun sets at 7:30 pm here. Once we settled on a plan to get foot massages, we spent 1.5 hours looking for a massage parlor. Neither one of us wanted to believe that the TripAdvisor.com app was right, and there wasn’t one close to our meeting point. Turns out, the app works. And alleys that don’t advertise massage parlors/spas actually do NOT have massage parlors, or spas.
Eventually, we travel to another neighborhood, catering to confused tourists, buy shrimp and waffles for a dinner (yes – that IS a balanced meal. My waffle had corn and hers had raisins.), and landed our hour long foot massages for just $8.50. This takes us to 9:30 pm and FINALLY heading home. As you may have read, I don’t live close to downtown. This was also the first time I had used public transport without a guide.
Thankfully, Mandy knew which trains to take. We settle in. Phew – here we go – 30-45 minutes on an air-conditioned locomotive and a bus or taxi home. Then it hits me. I have no idea how to get from the train station to my house. Zilch. No address. None.
I tell Mandy this. She calmly responds, “You don’t have the address?”
“Didn’t you take a picture?”
“I thought you took pictures of every sign.” Unspoken – MOD DANG TOLD YOU TO TAKE A PICTURE OF HER SIGN!!!
Yes, but not that one.
“Huh. We can….walk. Maybe. We can…”
Finally, I remember, I CAN use my phone. Especially since my roommate (Mod Dang) would have felt much better knowing i was home 2 hours ago, I’m sure she’s awake. I text her, asking for the address.
She responds. PHEW!
Finally, we get off the train, at 10:15. “Hmmm. Which direction to Max Valu? T hat’s where we can get a taxi….right?”
Uhhh. Maybe this way….No, no it was not that way. 1/2 mile later (have I mentioned it’s 85* and 94% humidity?), we are back where we started, heading in the RIGHT direction. No, Mandy does NOT have a better sense of direction than me, and that’s a proven fact.
We find Moto Taxis (mopeds!), and show them the texts, using hand motions to explain that we need to taxis. The drivers (there are 5 at this stop), discuss amongst themselves how to get there and who is going to drive. They seem to work it out, the maps drawn in the air make sense to me (hmph!), they seem confident. Tell us it will cost us a $1 each. Sounds good.
Side-saddle, I hop on the back of my moped. AAAAACH!! Hot, hot, hot searing pain on my calf. That was the exhaust pipe. On my bare skin. Mental note – do NOT wear a skirt ever again. Without seeing my reaction, the drivers tell me I’m facing the wrong way. I should be on the other side, far away from the exhaust pipe. Of course.
We settle on, try to tell the taxis to stick together, I tell Mandy, “This will be easy! Off we go! Haha”…or something like that.
Ah. Ha. Off I went. And she disappears far, far behind me. Then speeds up, zooming ahead of me. Flying over the bridge. Slowing at the turn. Then we pass them, and I notice Mandy is sitting up very, very straight. Even as I wonder if I have a 3rd degree burn on my leg and bite my lip to not scream, I think, “Gee, she really knows how to ride a mototaxi. I should sit up straighter, skirt, computer bag and all.” I do so.
Finally, the drag race slows and Mandy and I both get our taxi drivers INTO THE TURN LANE – NO NOT THAT WAY, and turn toward our neighborhood. And they stop. No, no, no – keep going (we’re only half-way there!). He looks at me quizzically, and continues. Mandy’s guy seems harder to coax – but she’s moving again. Good. Back in business.
Stop. Start – keep. GOING. Sir. Every 4 houses, my driver tries to stop, and slows at every speed bump located every 6th house. Mandy is sitting up incredibly straight, very serious looking and once again I think, “Wow. She knows what she’s doing. I’m a mess. Dude, keep going, I gave you the address already.”
Eventually, we are 50 feet from our last turn – and 300 yards from the house. I wave to him. He keeps going – stops. Really. YOUR FRIEND TURNED, SIR!!! So, u-turn, and he shakes his head at me. Really. Finally, we’re together again.
“$2” Yes, of course – 2 for the both of us. No, no – $2 each. REALLY?! Mandy – wide-eyed and annoyed – suggests I not argue and pay them already before anymore dogs wake up. Oh, yes.
I pay, and she explains that they had NOT known where we were going, only the main intersection, and it was crazy-long for them, so $2 makes sense. Okay, fine.
Now, to open the gate. I reach for the lock, and it’s shut tight. I don’t have a key. Jiggle, jiggle – nope. Shut. Mandy suggests I give her a leg up. I text Mod Dang. No answer. I call – but I only have 6 baht and you need at least 20 to make a call. Beautiful. 3 more dogs have woken up and are now growling at my dog, very near us – beginning to circle. When I leave the house in the evening, Mod Dang gives me a very long, pointed umbrella for the dogs. Today, I have a compact round umbrella, which I take out of my purse and continue to stare at my phone. Mandy tries the lock again. Nope. I reach over to give her a leg up, then nudge the gate in annoyance.
*$&# The. Gate. Is. Open.
That lock? Was locked in place, not to close the gate. Of course. We are idiots. Chosen. Redheaded, adventurous idiots who just helped lead 8 other students from Indianapolis to Bangkok, because we know how to handle ourselves. I’ll hand my credentials in, I promise.
Finally, we go inside. After I rattle the gate once more, maddening both my dog and the unfriendly circle coming from the nearby alleyway. Inside, Mandy asks, “Was your ride earlier today like that?”
“No, he knew where he was going, of course!”
“Well, when I stopped my guy said, ‘WHEW!’, like he was nervous the whole time. WE NEARLY CRASHED INTO ANOTHER MOTO TAXI! And I thought I was going die. And he said, “Phew.” I SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ONE SAYING THAT!! He’s supposed to know what he was doing.”
The next afternoon, I look in my unsent text messages and find my plea to Mod Dang, of course.
The grandmother I live with asked me how our evening went. For the sake of being allowed out of the house ever again, I don’t think I can tell her the truth. Ever.