These past few months keep surprising me with unforeseeable outcomes. Many have been so amazing. That phrase of EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON is feeling like a reoccurring theme in my life.
In 2012 I joined a Facebook group called Bangkok Expats. I made a post about my back story and how I was eagerly planning my move for 2013. Mia replied to my post and we quickly began swapping stories of our Thai adoptions and our present life. I felt an instant kinship to her. Not wanting to go too deep into Mia’s personal story I can say that she is a Thai adoptee like me. She was adopted into a loving Australian family and raised away from her homeland. At the age of 21, she flew to Thailand alone to travel and discover the country. I was fascinated at how many similarities we shared. I felt an insta-bond to this lady I had yet to meet. My commute to getting to Mia and her husband Eddie’s house was memorable. Meeting them for the first time was both exciting and amazing. It just refueled my joy for having made it to Thailand.
To get to Mia’s house was an adventure in itself. I had never been to her house before and FOR THE LIFE OF ME could not locate it on a map (paper or electronic!). I was nervous to have to take a taxi for the first time. Recently, locals and tourists have felt the need to share horror stories of tourist being kidnapped or being taken on the LONGEST route possible to their destination. Mia reassuringly told me to call her if I had any hassles and gave me all the details on how much the fare should be and what possible routes the driver would take. I was feeling excited and nervous.
On a daily basis drivers of: tuk tuks, motorcycles and taxi’s honk at me or slow down to try and get me to hop aboard. I always try to look uninterested and keep walking to whatever destination I am heading towards. So the first time I need to hail a taxi I thought it would be easy! I kept scanning the traffic and standing as close to the edge of the sidewalk as possible. I knew that if I walked to BIG C and the other shops there were always vehicles hanging around waiting to drive people. I was just so stunned that no one had picked me up by the time I was almost halfway to the shops. I then spotted a green and yellow taxi (with his light on) coming out of a soi. I waved at him and he nodded his head. I confidently took the front seat and optimistically asked him if he spoke English. He said, “Little bit”! Phewff I was able to exhale. I got a good vibe off of him and the fact that he answered back in English. I was very prepared for the, “Nitto”.
Well to my AMAZEMENT my taxi driver not only spoke a little English…HE SPOKE a lot and we were able to converse completely in English. It did make me slightly nervous when he told me he had to tell me something, “I have to tell you that the green and yellow taxis are private. We don’t belong to a company”. I gave him this blank stare. He quickly reassured me that I was SAFE! He just wanted to let me know that people in green and yellow taxis own their own cars and make their own hours. So he is selective as to which passengers he takes. He bought his car from a dealer and designed the inside of it. I asked him why he chose for his car to have cable but not a gps system? He said he found them to be unreliable and got more lost with them. Not even 2 minutes into the ride I noticed a Canadian flag sticker on the meter. (OF COURSE I NOTICED it because whenever I am in any taxi I always incessantly check the number as it grows bigger and bigger!) The taxi driver told me that Canada is one of his favourite countries. For respect to the couple’s privacy I won’t share their whole lives’ histories but …again I felt like everything was happening for a reason. His wife is American, whose Dad works (worked?) for an oil company. She was born in New Mexico but did a lot of moving around as a child. Their family moved to Thailand and that is where she met him. She is now an English Kindergarten teacher. We switched contact info and was told I could call him if I ever needed a ride. I could even schedule times days in advance. So fancy 🙂
Let’s just say I am now friends with 2 amazing couples! Both women met and fell in love with Thai men and never left Thailand. So sweet. So romantic. In one day I welcomed 4 incredible people into my life. Thailand is really living up to its name: The. Land. Of. Smiles.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. So proud of Kiwi Momma for all her blogging of the Singapore/Hong Kong trip. I knew you could survive without my IT services 🙂
P.P.S. Looking forward to reading all of your NEW YORK blogs DOM! This is so exciting that you will be in your “home away from home” so sooooon!!!!
What a great blogging community I am helping to create. Go Suma go!
I woke up to my delicious breakfast of: sticky rice, fresh fruit and coconut yogurt. (As I type this I notice little ants crawling all over my keyboard – They better stay clear of my fingers or they will be squashed or blown away!) Pi Loong brought over some freshly cut up papaya for me because she thought EVERYBODY loved it…I am the minority. That is one fruit I just do not enjoy. I did try a piece since I haven’t had a piece in years. I will admit it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being but I was not a converted fan!
After breakfast we had a look at my map AGAIN. I just feel so disoriented. In New Zealand I was trying to circle places on my map where; hostels, hotels, Babies Home and friend’s lived. In general I have a horrible sense of direction and was really wanting to get a visual of where everything was located. My Thai/English map is pretty detailed but it is still so hard to find anything. Pi Loong says there are just so many streets in Thailand! I had the address of Hope Academy School and Pi Loong said she knew where it was, but I wasn’t convinced. To her defense; she knows the Suhkumvit area really well. She was born in Thailand but has been living in the United States on and off for 18 years. I keep calling her my little American because she is so westernized now. All I knew was we had to head towards Victory Monument then walk a few blocks more to the school.
We caught a bus easily. I like how passengers pay their fare once they are seated. A bus attendant comes to give you your ticket and change if needed. What I will have to get use to is hailing the bus and climbing the stairs as it is moving. I watch people hop on with their flip flops and I worry that they will miss a step and fall and get crushed! We got off at the Victory Monument stop and thought we were going the right direction by walking along Ratchawitee Road. Unfortunately what we were not aware of was the fact that we were going in the opposite direction. We kept walking and walking and I couldn’t see ANY building numbers. Pi Loong asked a motorcyclist where to go and HE LED US a Stray BIG TIME. She had advised me to always ask a motorcyclist if you are lost because the “the streets are theirs”. They will always know the roads better than taxi drivers. Well my first experience with them wasn’t amazing. We passed a street sign pointing out different locations of landmarks. It showed that Victory Monument was behind us. At this point I had a strong feeling we were lost and going in the opposite direction. It was HOT and I was getting disgusting purse sweat! As we kept walking she informed me that the motorcyclist said he would take us to our destination but she said NO WAY! She was too scared and never rode them. She said we were learning by walking. After more walking she finally asked another 2 motorcyclists for help. I was confused when Pi Loong told me okay we would go with them. She had passed up the last offer. Now I knew we were lost. I was excited to finally be able to stop walking!
So my first motorcycle experience in Thailand was scary FUN. My friends KNOW I love me some motorcycles. The faster the better! But these drivers weave in and out of traffic like they own the road. I was peering inside peoples’ cars and inches away from touching their side mirrors. I thought it was great that Pi Loong was facing her fears and that we might actually make it. WELL while on the motorcycles our drivers stopped a few times to ask for help. So my confidence in finding the school was wavering. They dropped us off at a building and told us we were close to where we needed to go. IT WAS NO WHERE NEAR the right place. We were both frustrated at this point. Pi Loong wasn’t happy that they dropped us off at the wrong place and now we were more lost. Well we eventually did make it back to Victory Monument by way of taxi. I think there is around 5 lanes of traffic that loop around the Monument with 8 different turnoffs? That may be an exaggeration but It is one busy place. We had been so close — if we had just taken a different direction when we got off the original bus ride. Luckily we DID make it to the school. I think it took us 3 hours or so to make it but it was worth the journey. The school didn’t’t look anything like the website pictures. It is located down a soi (small side street) and I never would have found it without actively looking for a sign. I was relieved to see a receptionist when I entered the building. Unfortunately I quickly realized the receptionist that spoke English was on a break and this girl covering barely spoke. Considering it is a language school to Learn Thai you would think they would have had someone who spoke more English than she did. She kept trying to get me to fill out enrollment forms. I was trying to tell her I was already signed up and paid my fees. I wanted to know the class schedule and if I needed to sign in? Pi Loong was trying to help translate but it was making the girl more confused. She was on the phone a few times to tell the receptionist they had lost my paperwork and she didn’t know what to do. At this point I BEGAN TO WORRY that maybe I wasn’t signed up as a student and my middle man had organized my visa but not my tuition fees. I was trying to get a hold of him and he wasn’t answering his Thai number. That made me nervous. I WAS NOT GOING being scammed was I? The girl was asking me for my passport and if my paperwork had gone to Laos? Thankfully another staff member that spoke English cleared everything up for me. He informed me you simply show up for classes. Again, that seemed odd. How did they know I had paid a year’s worth of tuition if they couldn’t even locate my paperwork? Oh well not my issue. What did rattle me a bit was when the staff member was asking me why I didn’t speak Thai. He was asking me what level of Thai I felt I was. I answered that I was definitely a beginner!! He didn’t seem to believe me. I explained that I was raised in Canadian and therefor never learned Thai. Hence the reason why I had enrolled for classes. He thought it was funny that I didn’t know Thai. Like he was expecting me to be fluent in it. Kept asking, “Really? Really why don’t you know it”? Hopefully these classes pay off! After at least an hour of unnecessary waiting we were finally able to continue our day.
We caught the BTS Skytrain back to the BIG C near the hotel. At this point it was around 4:30 and I was exhausted and sweaty. I was hoping to go back to the hotel and shower and grab a quick nap before meeting a new friend Kaimook at 7:00 at MBK. Pi Loong thought it was best we go on the BTS Skytrain and head over to MBK now. I half-heartedly agreed. I had not planned on looking or feeling the way I did to meet a friend for the first time. I wanted to freshen up but it wasn’t really my call. I would get totally lost without Pi Loong’s help so whatever she was saying goes! I bought a pass for the BTS and tried to catch a couple minutes of sleep. We got off at the Siam stop…and then Pi Loong started to ask for directions. We weren’t lost this time..just needed a little push in the right direction. I felt the need to apologize to Kaimook when I saw her. She had come straight over from work and was dressed in a lovely skirt and blouse with gorgeous heels! I was in my denim shorts and tshirt…with frizzy haggard looking hair. It was quite the contrast. She laughed it off and said I looked like a tourist. Oh man I will need to class up the wardrobe once I am employed 🙂
Photo found on google images
MBK is 7 story shopping mall that is VERY popular to both tourist and locals. There are so many different shops and gadget booths. Kaimook was my technology angel that night. We went to her friend’s stall so we could get the “friends discount”. I got my internet all sorted out. I traded in my locked iphone 4 for a gently used unlocked iphone 4s. They transferred all my pictures and some of my contacts over. I had to buy a data plan for my sim card so I could get 3G internet and wifi but I am all hooked up now. It has been great to actually have an Iphone that works again. I used to have to push the home button repeatedly until it worked. Taking pictures was a nightmare because it took so long to get to the camera! I am also glad I didn’t buy an internet stick for my laptop because it can share a network with my phone. So convenient! It will be nice to be back to only having one phone! In Ne w Zealand I always had to make sure I had to have my Iphone (to take pictures and wifi) and my NZ phone J
We dined at a yummy Thai restaurant then said our goodbyes. Pi Sangwan met up with us at the hotel later that evening. It was so nice to have Pi Loong and Pi Sangwan together in the same room again!
This was a pretty long blog. I plan to keep the upcoming ones shorter. NOT full day experiences anymore. Too time consuming trying to stay current on my blog and journal!
Thanks for reading
xox Amanda Sumalee
PS. The 3G internet is great when it is working. Unfortunately for me it is pretty sporadic. Just decides when it wants to work! Luckily there are a lot of free wifi areas close to the apartment and most bus stops have TRUE wifi host spots which is my service provider.
PPS. Remember you can click on ANY of the pictures to make them bigger and clearer 🙂