Awww thanks everyone! I can't tell you how happy it made me to receive so many supportive emails. I guess my last post really freaked some people out. It sounds terrible and in some ways it is terrible but in time I'll have everything figured out and living in Thailand will be a piece of cake. Being in a new place with a new language and new customs can be very overwhelming and frustrating. Little things like eating and buying a pair of shoes consumes so much effort that you feel exhausted by the end of the day. Everyday will make it a little easier as I become used to what to expect and learn my way around.
Yesterday was hard for me. It started out o.k. We went to the mall by our house to go to an ATM and to get a new watch battery fixed. Getting the watched fixed was no problem; the guy at the watch shop was super nice and it only cost $2. We went to the ATM and I couldn't get any money out. I thought maybe it was just that bank so I went to another one and it still didn't work. We were on our way to downtown to do some sight-seeing so I figured there would be more ATMs that accepted international bank cards so I decided just to wait.
We took a river taxi into downtown because we heard that it was more direct and faster because there was no traffic. It may have been faster but it smelled terrible! They should call them sewer taxis. The water kept splashing on me and I thought I might die. It was an interesting experience and a new perspective (thats what I tell myself to be positive). Once we got off the boat we thought we would try to take a tuk tuk (mini taxis) to Jim Thompson's house. We found some tuk tuk drivers standing around and we asked him how much it would cost to get there. We were expecting something around 40 baht (about $1) but they looked at us and said 150 baht (about $5) which doesn't seem like a lot in American standards but is outrageous in Thailand. Keep in mind that you can buy a fancy dinner for 2 for 200 baht and an air conditioned car taxi ride would cost about 60 baht for the same distance. This was my first experience with someone obviously trying to rip me off in Thailand after two weeks with people being generally honest and helpful.
It didn't look that far on the map so we decided to just walk there. Boy was that a mistake! We ended up walking through a really crowded touristy area with people running into you and trying to sell you stuff while you are surrounded by funky smells and the heat from the street vendors cooking making it feel like it is 100 degrees outside with 100% humidity. By the time we made it to Jim Thompson's house I looked like I had been hit by a bus, dragged for miles and left to soak in a puddle of my own sweat. We ran for the gift store and just sat there enjoying the air conditioning.
Jim Thompson's house was really nice. He was an American architect who moved to Thailand after World War II and built his house with a blend of traditional Thai architecture and art with Western style. His gardens were amazing with beautiful orchids and lotus flowers and ponds with koi and a giant sting ray and some crazy meat eating fish. It felt like we were in a little tranquil oasis in the middle of a bustling, sweltering city. I never wanted to leave. You can check out the pictures by clicking on the link to the right that says "My Photos on Flickr".
Afterwards we went to the MBK marketplace which is a huge mall that is supposedly really cheap. I tried to use 3 or 4 different ATMs there and none of them were working. I was so tired and so frustrated at that point that I just wanted to cry. People were everywhere like bugs. I get really claustorphobic in crowds and I just couldn't deal with it. All the weeks frustrations were coming down on me and I was scared because I had no idea why I couldn't access my money. Finally, in a moment of clarity I realized that I was trying to use my credit card and not my ATM card to get money out the bank. You can imagine how stupid I felt and also how relieved I was when it finally worked. Normally, when something like that doesn't work you stop and try to think of all the reasons why it won't work. I just assumed it was because I was in a foreign country and didn't even stop to think "Hmmm, maybe I'm just using the wrong card." Duh!
After a long day yesterday I was really glad to be home. Home is really a relative term. Just two weeks ago I was longing to be at home in California and yesterday I was longing to be at home in Bang Kapi. I really appreciate our little area now because everyone is so nice here and I know how to get around in this general area.
Instead of just moping around today I felt motivated to do some things to make me feel more comfortable here. I found a bus map so we can plan our sight-seeing trips better so we don't have to walk for miles in the heat. We went to a real grocery store and bought real food to eat for dinner so I'm not eating cookies and potato chips for sustenance. I got a reading lamp so I don't have to read by the green flourescent light in my room. I bought comfortable shoes to wear to work so I'm not dying climbing the 4 flights of stairs. And I think next week I'll finally be able to start studying the language so I can say more than "Hello" and "thank you."
Don't worry about me. I'm strong. After all, if I can pay off all that debt in 2 years, I can do anything!