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Thoughts of a wandering soul The "IT WAS TIME" Trip!

Technologically incompetent ninny goes to Chiang Mai

THAILAND | Sunday, 2 December 2012 | Views [537]

The next day after giving me transport options, it came down to either catch a boat to work or a motorbike taxi. Adrian seemed hesitant about letting me go on the motorcycle taxi, as you ride on the back without a helmet, but after my experience with the Macau ferry, I was most reluctant to get on the boat. Hmm...I peeked outside, saw the water taxi literally bouncing along the water and that decided it! Give me the motorcycle or give me death!

We walked to the motorcycle taxi stand and there was only one guy there. As Adrian started to tell me that I should go first and giving me further instructions, my heart started pounding. Surely he was not going to set me off in this chaos on a motorbike...ALONE!!! Umm...can’t we just wait until there are two and go together? Adrian seemed quiet and confused for a moment, but then said yes, we could. We waited for less than a minute before another motorbike puttered up. Here goes nothing! They were really small bikes, I’m sure we’ll be fine, I prayed as first myself, then Adrian took off.

It...was...brilliant!!!! OMG! It was so much fun!!! The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected and the rider was nowhere near as manic! He did weave through the traffic & split lanes, but never carelessly. And whenever we got too close to a shiny car (of which there were surprisingly many!) he would carefully inch his way next to it, so as to hit neither’s review mirrors. But once we were clear, vroom! He’d be off again! The only thing was that the bike had dodgy brake pads, which squealed everytime he braked hard. But apart from that it was exhilarating! It wasn’t a race or nuttin, but I confess I was a wee bit disappointed when Adrian’s bike arrived at our destination first. Even if mine was only a second behind.

We climbed up the stairs and I found myself at a train station which was really well set up. There was a map that showed you where you were and every other station had a number next to it indicating the cost to get there. There was even a change counter as the ticket machines only took coins. Very efficiently organised! Poor Adrian had to keep paying for everything as I was wandering around with a 1000 Bhat note and nowhere to break it.

Finally we got to his building - set in a very modern glass shopping mall set next to a kind of street exhibition. There was a skywalk from the station into this building and we had to walk through “The Tunnel of Happiness” - a covered mirrored walkway with the words “Happiness”, “Joy”, etc written everywhere, after which we stopped at a cafe for breakfast.

Yay! Chance to break my note! The lady at the counter seemed worried about the note asking if we had anything smaller. Nope. Okay, she nodded and then put it away together with our bill and walked away. Is she going to give me any change?? My anxious mind panicked before the sensible one chirped in with, of course she is, she’s gone to get it!

I dropped my bag in Adrian’s office and with instructions on how to get a Thai SIM card, I wandered off into the shopping centre. I should have realised this was going to be a difficult task. I asked for a SIM card for the iPhone and the girl knew immediately what I was after. I tried to pay with a 500 Bhat note, but they didn’t have change.

She took my phone and was changing the chip when this guy walked up next to me. He asked another girl for a card and she went to check. We started chatting and she came back and said the card he was after was not available and to choose another one, then walked away.

They don’t like us, he whispered to me. Excuse me? They don’t like us “pharangs”, foreigners because of the exploitation you know.

Umm...I don’t think I would be likely to partake of those activities I told him.

Oh yes, but some men are really sleazy, and they paint all us guys with the same brush, that’s why she’s treating me this way. It’s like, I don’t want to serve you, I’m only doing it ‘cause it’s my job.

Uh huh! In the meantime, my server, who I thought was fine, said she couldn’t get the SIM card to work in my phone and was it locked ‘cause it worked instantly in this other phone, see?

Umm...locked? Oh...maybe...can you unlock it? No, she couldn’t but if I took it to one of the smaller kiosks, they would be able to do it. Right, thanks. The guy said you can get the phone unlocked anywhere in Bangkok, but it was illegal, so they probably wouldn’t do it there.

Illegal?? Surely not, my contract was over!

I wandered over to another kiosk I’d passed earlier and asked the guy if he could unlock my phone. He had a look and said 500 Bhat, but it will take one hour. Erm...did I wanna be without my phone for that long? Never mind the cost which seemed slightly excessive!

I’ll think about it I told him after I replaced the Thai SIM with my Aussie one. What now? Gah! Why didn’t I remember to do this in Australia?? Doh! There was no help for it. I had to call upon my knight again. I texted him. Phone not unlocked, am downstairs at your office lift. How embarrassing! He must have thought I was some kind of technologically incompetent ninny!

Oh well, if that was all & my SIM card problem was solved, I’d be okay with that. We had a brief discussion and I recalled vaguely that I could unlock it over the net. I tried on his computer and long story short, ended up with it unlocked, but lost all my apps in the process! Sigh...oh well, I was thankful for small mercies! I’d live without ALL my apps til I was home again.

While the phone was unlocking, Adrian suggested we go to lunch. As hesitantas I was to leave my phone alone in an unattended office, he told me no one could come in, and even if someone did break in, there were far more valuable things to steal than my effectively a paperweight phone. He had such a reassuring way of putting things. Fine. Lunch awaited.

Having been in Asia for about 5 days now and not eaten much Asian food at all, Adrian decided we had to eat Thai. I let him order for me and got a green curry fried rice with marinated pork and salted fish. Hmm...while he assured me it was great, I couldn’t help but notice that my neighbour had ordered the same meal and left most of it uneaten. Oh well.

The food came quickly enough, and while I had contracted a promise to help with finishing the meal, I surprised myself by eating it all myself. I then happened to look up and into the kitchen window, and wait, could it be? There was a woman in there...putting into a juicer what looked suspiciously like guava pieces! I squealed in delight! I want! I informed Adrian. Be a good chap and make it happen :p which he did, and I was presented with the elixir of heaven.

It tasted absolutely divine! People (myself included) who’ve had packaged “guava juice” have no idea what you’re missing out on. That disgusting, sweet pinkish good is nothing compared to the real thing. This tasted so much like guava that you expected to crunch on the fruit any moment. It tasted like exactly what it was - liquid guava. There were a few tiny pieces of the fruit that I gobbled up, savouring every crunch & juicy goodness. I was well and truly sated and would have liked nothing more than to curl up somewhere and purr and sleep. No such luck!

I collected my bag from the office and thankfully the trip to the airport went smoothly & without incident. Once I was on board, an older man got on and sat one seat away from me. He had got on with another similar aged man and I wondered if they were friends or partners. A few minutes after sitting, he said hello and we started chatting.

He was German and the other guy was his brother. At first we just spoke about the usual stuff - did he live here?

Yes, he had been in Bangkok for a year now and had moved to Chiang Mail. What did he do here?

He was retired. Oh, what did he do before?

He was a sports writer. Ha! Now that’s quite interesting. I tell him about my trip and ask him more and find out that he’s been to South America where he followed the German Football team for three months to report, used to play professional football himself when he was young, had one of his team mates die in a drunk drive incident when he was in his late teens and it was a wake up call for him that he wasn’t invincible and that he should think about the future.

He never got married, never had kids, has been single for the past 18 years, but currently supports a “bar girl” who he is not intimate with. He also misses his friends who are all back in Germany, as are his two brothers, but he goes back every year for Christmas.

I asked how he liked it, and he seemed okay, but he said he just missed having people he could talk to. He said most of the people he knew here were good to go out with for drinks and laugh with, but he couldn’t talk to them.

I understand that, but in a lot of ways, he made some interesting choices and it seems like he’s been true to himself and done everything he wanted to, and has no regrets, and in most ways he seemed...content. I ask if he missed company, and he told me about his most recent relationship (currently no longer) and then he spoke about change in people and how so many people didn’t do what they wanted, or even knew what they wanted because of fear of change.

I asked if he missed not having kids of his own and he said no. I think I believe him. It was a really interesting & moving conversation. He was so matter of fact about everything. I guess one could say it’s a German thing, but he seemed passionate when he spoke of his travels and this blog that he’s putting together and the lack of change in others.

We parted ways at the airport and I had a lovely driver take me to my hotel. It seemed different at first to the pictures on the web, but then I guess, what doesn’t? Upon closer inspection I recognised parts of it, like the wood crosses on the gables, the mediterranean looking pool with it’s dark blue tiles and terracotta colouring around.

I went to my room which was on the second floor and right next to the laundry area. As soon as I walked in, I thought, oh, this is nice. the room itself was also a warm orange colour with a double bed in the middle. There was a TV and a safe and an A/C. I immediately turned on the A/C and went to the bathroom while I waited for the room to cool down. They had some kind of concrete and iodised copper thing happening in the bathroom which I’m not convinced worked, but it was functional enough. It was only seven thirty, but I was tired enough that I didn’t want to venture out anywhere.

I played the on again, off again game with the A/C before finally going to sleep.

Tags: chiang mai, life change, phone

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