Getting Back to Work

I took the weekend off to travel to Phitsanulok (Jet’s hometown – five hour bus drive north of Bangkok) to visit her and Ben.  I left for Mor Chit (the bus station in Bangkok) right after my class ended at 3:30pm on Friday and initially had a tough time catching a taxi to take me there.  It is not that there was a lack of available taxis (there are hundreds that pass by every minute), but the first few that stopped for me tried to take advantage of me because I was a “farang” or “foreigner”.  The first taxi stopped, I opened the door and stated “Mor Chit” – the taxi driver replied “200 [Baht]”.  I shook my head in disapproval and closed the door.  The taxis in Thailand work on a metered rate and this was a taxi driver that was trying to negotiate.  I fell victim to this the first time I took a taxi last year and was charged 300 or 350 Baht (about $8 – $10) for a taxi ride that only cost half that.  I had never taken a taxi ride from where my condo is located to Mor Chit before, so I actually had no idea what the going rate should be.  After I stepped away from the first taxi, I walked a few steps to the next available taxi (all traffic was stopped due to heavy congestion – rush hour) and this taxi driver asked me “how much?”, wanting to haggle for a price.  If I am not mistaken, it is actually illegal for taxi drivers that use meters to engage in this practice.  I shook my head again and walked a few more cars down the line to the next available taxi to which I again stated, “Mor Chit”, to which this taxi driver nodded his head in agreement.  Usually a taxi driver will either shake his head “no” if they don’t want to go there or nod “yes” if they will take you to where you want to go.  I guess I had “sucker” written on me somewhere that afternoon.  The taxi ride itself was quite eventful as all rides in taxi’s in Bangkok usually are.  9 of 10 taxi drivers that I have had in Thailand are overly aggressive, but the driver I had was by far an “alpha” driver.  He shot through traffic in all lanes just barely missing slowing traffic multiple times, which is not out of the ordinary for taxi drivers.  What was unusual was an instance when a pick-up truck cut him off just as he was about to accelerate past a bunch of slow cars, which I could tell upset him.  My taxi driver chased after this truck at very high speeds, and when the truck slowed down to get off of an exit on the left, my taxi driver sped up to pull up next to the truck in the exit lane and swerved the car at the truck as if he was going to crash into it.  Amazing.  The taxi driver got me to Mor Chit and it cost 93 Baht, but as I always find taking taxis in Bangkok, the cost of the ride doesn’t take into account the entertainment (or fright) you get that comes with it.  I arrived at Mor Chit at 3:50pm and the earliest bus to Phitsanulok was at 4:40pm, so I had a little time to rest and relax after the wild taxi ride.

The bus ride to Phitsanulok was not that enjoyable as it was an older bus and the air conditioning smelled like old, dirty socks.  It was not the worst bus ride I had to Phitsanulok (I have written about several of them last year in my blog), but was the first one I had taken this year.  I arrived at the Phitsanulok bus station at 9:30pm, where Jet and her father were waiting to pick me up.  It was already late, so when I arrived with Jet to her mother’s house, I just went to sleep right away.  The next day (Saturday) we stopped over at one of Jet’s mother’s friends restaurant to eat breakfast, which was absolutely delicious.  Curries and soups and fried chicken and rice – more than I could eat and all for about $2.  Jet took me to get a hair cut at the barber I went to several times before last summer just after breakfast.  His price had gone up from 50 Baht to 60 Baht (from about $1.25 to $1.50), but I would have gladly paid two or three times as much for his work.  In fact, last year I tried giving him a tip which he refused, which I suspect was on principle.  This barber gives a solid haircut (military-like, flat-top) along with nice, close shave.  I am not sure where I would go in Alabama to get a similar service – but I am sure that if I could find it in the US, it would likely cost at least $30.  I then went with Jet as she got a manicure (I got a pedicure) for about $1 on the other side of town.  After that busy morning, I went back to Jet’s house to play with Ben for a while and at around 1:00pm, put him down for a nap.  Jet took the time while Ben was sleeping to get pictures from our Phuket developed and put on CD’s so that I could bring them back to Bangkok on post them for you (see below). 

Ben had a little fever showing before going down for his nap, so we planned to take things easy.  We ended up going to a place where they have evening public aerobics that is next to a large playground after Ben woke up from his nap.  Jet and her mom did the aerobics while I kept an eye on Ben, who seemed to have a great time playing, climbing, and swinging.  While there, we met up with Jet’s cousin (P’ Anne) and her three little girls (maybe 6, 4, and 2 years old) who chased and followed Ben around where ever he went.  It was actually quite something as Ben was not that daring as all of the other kids and was a little slow to climb up ladders, dart across bridges, and come down slides.  Recognizing this and how the other Thai children would push Ben aside or bully him in Thai to “speed up” or “get down”, the two girls (6 and 4 years old) flanked the front and back of him everywhere he went, helping him along, up, and down, and shielding him from all of the other Thai kids.  These girls have only briefly met Ben before last year and the year before that, so I doubt that they remember him.  But their mother must have told them that they were related (I couldn’t understand what she told the children in Thai when she introduced Ben to them), but from that point on, those girls protected Ben as if he was their own little brother.  That was the most memorable part of my visit to Phitsanulok.  After an hour when the aerobics session had ended, we traveled to another one of Jet’s mom’s friend’s restaurant for steak and called it a day. 

Ben must surely have his two-year molars coming through as this is the third time in less than 30 days that he has had a high fever.  First it was a week before we left for Thailand, then it was a few days after we arrived in Thailand (when we were in Phuket), and now about two weeks after we have been in Thailand.  Jet recalled Ben having his re-occuring fever multiple times last year in Thailand that would only occur during the times that I visited them in Phitsanulok.  So for some fun, Jet blamed my visit as the cause of Ben’s fever this time.  I wonder if there is something to it.  The next day we were supposed to attend wedding for another one of Jet’s cousins, but with Ben in the condition he was in, we just stayed close to the house and I played with Ben for much of the day.  We did take an hour in the afternoon to visit Jet’s aunt’s house on the other side of town where one of Jet’s mom’s workers accompanied us, climbed up several trees in her aunt’s yard for us, and took down several coconuts and jackfruit.  And then just as quickly as the weekend came, it passed and I was on the 8:15pm bus back to Bangkok.  I was able to get some sleep on the bus, so when I arrived at Mor Chit at 1:00am and caught a taxi back to my condo, it was hard to get back to sleep.  I ended up just staying up, preparing for class that day and getting some work done.

So that is about where things are right now after a busy weekend.  Jet told me this morning (Tuesday) that Ben has gotten over is fever, which is about right as it lasts just under 3 days in length each time.  Jet will be coming to Bangkok this weekend with her sister who will be leaving back for home in Switzerland.  I also have my dental surgery planned to remove my remaining wisdom tooth – I just hope that it is as seamless as the first wisdom tooth they took out when I first arrived in Thailand almost three weeks ago.  The midterm exam for the first class I am teaching is on Friday, so I have that day off as the exam will be proctored by someone else at the Hua Mak campus.  Hopefully I will have the chance to get some more work done.

One thing that I have been trying to do is take more short video blogs to share with you about my time here in Thailand.  I took a few over the past few days, one of me at Mor Chit (Bangkok bus station), one of Jet’s mom’s house/business, one of the street market by my condo, and just one of Ben from the weekend with his new haircut – Ben really liked watching the one of him over and over.  One question I often get is how are McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. different than in the US, so I think I will walk around the mall today and get some video of those fast food places so you can see for yourself.  If you have other things you would like for me to video and share, let me know and I will try to get it up in the coming days.


4 Responses to “Getting Back to Work”

  1. Linda and Donald Says:

    We just looked at your pictures and videos. Sounds like you had quite a ride through the streets of Bangkok. That’s another reason that I would not enjoy being there. You know what a chicken I am. Glad to hear that Ben’s fever went away again. Paw Paw and I were disappointed that he didn’t seem interested in being filmed. Maybe next time he will feel better.

    No rain here in the last two days and we still have puddles in a few places. Donald talked to Mike this morning. He is having some of the tall growth cut from the ditch and the street guy from the city is supposed to come out and see if the city can help to prevent water from backing up and flooding yards. There is a system in the gulf being watched for possible tropical development. We don’t need it here now. I really hope it goes where it is needed. We need a few warm, sunny days to dry out.

  2. Andy Says:

    Linda – I forgot to write in the blog that on Sunday, Jet was asking Ben where Pookie (Jet’s sister) was; she was in Bangkok with friends. So how did Ben respond? He kept asking where Mee Maw and Paw Paw were.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Andy (tell Jet we say Hi too),
    You are way more adventurous than I am. I can barely leave WI! Well live is adjusting to Christi. I am so out of baby mode, that I think she is taking “advantage” of me. As we are finishing up the school year, the days seem to go by with her just taking a bunch of cat naps so I don’t get much done. I am definitely going to make a greater effort to get her down for regular naps. She is smiling now. The boys are actually the best with her. They both come running when she starts fussing and most often are able to get her to settle down. (A Nuk and bouncy seat are often involved too.)
    Scott has been working at UW Whitewater the last couple of days. I guess you could say he is helping get it ready for you : ) He has been working with some other guys to rip out and then install a new dishwasher. (The really big kind.) Apparently, he said that Hobart has 2 more dishwashers to install at UWW this summer.
    It sounds like you are pretty busy with your classes. Wow! Midterms already.
    Take care!

  4. Sukhumvit Hotels Says:

    Great post! I like this blog and good article also.

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