Winter in Thailand. We left the beginning of December this year. Since it was our second time around you would think that things would be much smoother. You would think. Instead of flying Detroit to Korea and then onto Bangkok, we decided to fly East through Paris. This allowed a more even flight time for each leg. Also, the Air France seats seemed a bit more comfortable, which is important when you are sitting next to an obnoxious flyer in the window seat.
The Detroit to Paris flight started out painful as we spent an extra 2 hours on runway in Detroit with equipment failure. It got worse when 1 hour into our flight, a passenger annoyed everyone around her, and the staff stuck her in front of us. Reward bad behavior with a row to themselves. She proceeded to lean her seat all the way back and complain when our knees and the seat function would not allow her to transform her space into a business class full recline. With great effort I kept my comments somewhat in check because Amy was concerned we would end up in some Instagram video.
For those looking at picture of Max the dog, no, he did not ride in the seat, so don’t send me hate mail, it was only a photo op when exiting the plane. The entire flight he was somewhere on the floor. Once we landed we found him in first class under a seat, and gathered him into his bag. The next flight to Bangkok was packed, but went pretty smooth.
We arrived at 10am local time (12hrs ahead of East Coast US). I went to bed and slept until 6am the next day. It took about a week to fully adjust to local time zone, but I fully admit I was in no rush.
I bought a used scooter on Facebook before we left. It was to be delivered the day after we landed. With no car, without a scooter, I was stuck in the house all day and wanted to limit the extent of that. I was not excited about buying something without testing it out, but I really did not want to be taking taxis across town looking at scooters when I first arrived.
It was dropped off and the first couple weeks were smooth. I added some bells and whistles to it, and zipped downtown and back and forth to the gym. On Christmas night we decided to take it downtown to see the lights. It broke down outside a massage parlor. I offered to go in and look for help, but Amy thought it was better if she handled since I did not speak Thai. I did not think that would be a problem for me, but I lost that argument. The security guard used his scooter, and had one foot on my scooter to push it 1 km to a bike shop. As if driving a motorbike in Thailand was not dangerous enough, we upped the stakes by traveling at 30 mph with a guy buzzing around me and every 5 seconds he would crash into me and push me my foot peg.
The bike shop could not figure out the problem, and the guy who sold it to us (claimed we had 30 day insurance on repairs) was not helpful. We left it there and found a cab home. Later that night they called us and said it was fixed. I was a bit suspicious of the claim, especially when they said it was just a wire chewed through by a rat. While the rat was legitimate excuse in Thailand, we did not have rats at our place and it just didn’t behave like a cut wire. Anyway, the next night we cabbed down, paid $20 and rode it back. 5 Minutes from the bike shop, it broke down again. This is frustrating, not only for the obvious, but also the way Bangkok is setup. It is such a huge city (10 Million) that every km is like a completely different city. Each with its own alleys, prostitutes, and other idiosyncrasies. So, basically we were in the middle of nowhere again. You have to find another person to help push your bike through traffic, another random bike repair shop and figure out if everything is on the level. And when I say “bike repair shop” I don’t mean the local Meineke Auto Shop. I mean a guy with 2 or more scooters laying around in various states of repair and a third Frankenstein offspring of the other 2. He will be perched on a stool next to the bike, like a farmer drawing milk from a cow’s udder. There will be one lightbulb hanging off the roof, illuminating the proceedings. It is funny how quickly you adjust. Last night I was trying to stay alive while this guy from the brothel is pushing my bike through traffic, and tonight I am complaining to Amy that the guy we found tonight to slingshot us was not going fast enough! After about 2 km he kept complaining to Amy, concerned about getting hit by traffic and how much farther would it be. I just yelled at Amy to get him to keep going! I kept motioning further ahead. Truth be told, I had no idea where a bike repair shop was, but I was going to ride this wave all the way to the beach (our front door) if I could. Eventually, Amy was yelling at me how the guy wanted to stop, so I took pity on him and we pulled over and I released him from servitude. I found a bike “guy” cause that is a more accurate description than an actual “bike shop”. He had no advice. I just pushed it back to the house and there it sits until after the new year and I could get someone to look at it. The great sight unseen bike experiment was a complete failure.
It is very difficult coming from a western culture to Thailand and expect things to get solved with the same efficiency. The above is an example. Another is the gate lock issue. We have a big rolling metal gate blocking our garage
The U-Bolt lock had only 1 key. I needed a couple more. You don’t just go to Home Depot and stick it in a self-serve kiosk to get copies. I went to the market where a guy with a cart has set up shop. When he can not help, or he disappears from cart for an hour, you go down to street to the next neighborhood and find their key guy. It works very similar to bike guy. Kinda like medieval times. Each town has a blacksmith, a cooper, carpenter, etc. We get there and he gets his tools out and spends the next 20 minutes carving out a key.
I should have taken the actual lock to check his work, but I assumed too much. After he makes 2 copies, putting all the blood and sweat into shaving it down, it does not work. We take the key and lock on a journey back a day later and they say it is better to just get a new lock. Something that takes 15 minutes back in the US, might take a few days to sort out here. It is a good exercise in patience. I fail miserably at these exercises. I have already covered in previous entries, the patience required to drive here. Each time before I start the car I must say to myself, “You are going to see a lot of things that will upset you. You will see a lot of unsafe and illegal moves. You must not react.” Riding a scooter is so much easier as you do whatever you want, but as we outlined above, that right had been taken away from me.
Our first couple weeks were busy updating the house. Last year we furnished with just the basics (couch, bed, TV) and this time we are starting to fill in the gaps
Frequent walks up to our favorite food stall
A couple weeks into our trip, we took Amy’s parents and drove up to the National Park of Khao Yai. Download Khao Yai Trip Planning. I rented a car from the airport for the 3 Hour trip. On the way north, I stopped at a field of sunflowers
I don’t get it, but they love walking around fields of flowers and berries here. Asians are absolutely obsessed with taking pictures for Instagram. I mean everywhere you go you are surrounded by teenage girls in weird outfits, taking short videos running up to and away from a camera on a stand. Some also subject their boyfriend to film it all, also a sort of “camera-on-a-stand”
Our next stop was a winery for lunch. A bit strange, they had this huge vineyard, but were selling Australian wines in their gift shop and restaurant.
A coffee shop after lunch and then on to our lodging for the night
The next day we entered the park, stopping at a few vistas for pictures, then taking a short hike around the visitors center
There is a gibbon somewhere in the below picture
Another 1Km hike to a waterfall. The stairs proved difficult for Amy’s father, but we were in no rush (Not her father in picture on stairs).
In the below picture is a Hornbill bird…somewhere.
That evening we had dinner at the spectacle that is Midwinter. Followed by a stop for desert at the Chocolate Factory
The next morning we stopped at an art museum before heading back to Bangkok
Coffee Shop for iced coffee. In this heat, it is a must.
Around Christmas we also took the car downtown Bangkok to visit Chatuchack Weekend Market to find things to fill the house. We found a few things, but when we returned home we decided it was easier to just go to IKEA and buy online from the Thailand version of Amazon. It goes against every fiber in my being to decorate in this manner but did not have years to amass the useless crap we needed for upcoming visitors.
Staging area for useless crap
Until Next Month