Thailand

Waiting to Leave

It’s not easy sitting around.  I’ve been doing too much of it lately.  One tends to overthink.  One tends to overeat.  One tends to get stuck in a negative mindset.

I’m trying not to be a dick, but I’m getting impatient.  I haven’t driven myself anywhere in five years.  I haven’t been able to walk anywhere since I left Bang Saen.  I achieved (some) financial freedom, but gave up a lot of other personal freedoms when I crammed myself in this big house in the suburbs.

And nothing is fun anymore.  Nothing gives me any enjoyment.  I’m too burned out by the dirty air, the horrible traffic, and the general rudeness of the people around me to even try to go out and kill time.  I just want my video games and space.

I think back to how this journey all began.  The only real solace I take in the midst of my frustration right now is how much better off I am.  Were it not for a rather incredible turn of events, I’d be stuck in this country just like every other asshole expat here.  That thought is extremely unnerving, especially since a bunch of people had to die for this save to happen.

I’ll try to think about that later, though.  Maybe on the plane.  I don’t want to think about anything at all right now.  Forty-eight hours from now, I will begin the final preparations for my departure.

I can’t wait to get the fuck out of here.

Latte? Americano?

I went to the 7-11 this morning for some laundry soap and paper towels.  There’s a girl there that has always been flirty with me, but I don’t really mind.  The alternative is that everyone glares at you, so you kinda pick and choose your battles.  I already went through my glaring phase with these people when I asked a woman if she was putting sugar in my coffee, and to say that it’s ‘uncomfortable’ would not at all do justice to the concerted coldness that Thai people can show.

I haven’t been drinking their coffee lately, however.  A few weeks ago, I got an alarming blood pressure reading, so I immediately took steps to remedy the situation by cutting out espresso.  That’s what they serve at 7-11:  straight espresso.  Thai people work all the time, and they are perpetually tired.  What they call coffee is often far higher octane than what we are used to.

So, this nice flirty girl used to ask how many coffees I want when I would visit.  I would normally grab two lattes, especially when I was writing all day.  It was a daily thing, and it was actually something I enjoyed doing because I thought it made the population a little more at ease with the big white dude who seems to be rich but dresses like he’s a pauper.

Last week, she asked me if I wanted my usual, but I explained to her that my blood pressure was high and that I had to stop drinking coffee.  I used broken Thai and hand gestures spliced with simple English, and she seemed to understand.  I still thanked her and smiled, because I know saying “no” to a Thai person is the absolute worst thing in the world.

Today she did the same thing, but I just wanted to get in and out today so I pretended to not hear.  When I got to the counter, she asked again if I wanted coffee, and I did the same thing:  I made the gestures, I used my broken Thai, and I indicated that I couldn’t drink coffee because of my blood pressure.  Even the young man at the counter could immediately tell what I was saying, as he actually told me he hopes I feel better after our transaction.

But she pushed the issue.  What about green tea?  What about pink milk?  We have other things!

What about you shut the fuck up and let me go home?

Thai people never know when they’re taking too much.  They never know when they’re being rude.  They know nothing of social cues or what makes us uncomfortable.  Why should they care?  It’s their country.  We want to live there, so we have to do everything their way.

I am ok with this in theory.  It has been a great lesson in observation and social empathy.  I never really possessed the latter until repeatedly making mistakes over here.  However, it’s how they don’t budge that has now been one of the major factors that has me sick of this place.  They get bored, they get too excited, or, worse yet, they like to demonstrate their control over you.  They love reminding you that you are stuck doing things their way.  I’ve never seen such puerile overcompensation before in my life.

So, I can’t really tell what kind of game this gal is playing with me, but I know that I’m tired of it. I’ve tried to have interactions with these people, but every time I don’t read their mind and do it precisely their way, they get pissed off and try to influence everyone’s opinion about me.  It gets old.

I think I’ll just wait and catch a cab to Paseo next time.  I’m starting to prefer their cold indifference to foreigners.

Forced Interaction at Mega Bangna

Sasi and I were at the mall today. We were at the New Balance store and I was trying on a pair of shoes, when out of the corner of my eye I can see a white dude and his Thai wife eyeing the store from just outside. My heart dropped a little when they entered. The man was talking loudly, and he looked like he was trying his best to be seen and heard.

The white guy was visibly impatient. There was only one sales associate at that time, and he was helping me when the white dude came in.  But the white guy kept trying to get the sales associate’s attention. I wondered to myself if he was being a dick or if he was truly just self-centered and dumb. Regardless, the guy retreated to the front of the store after unsuccessfully engaging the sales associate.

The sales associate helped me with two different pairs of shoes. I took them to the counter. The sales associate started trying to tell me about how many points I had on my One Card. I told him to use all my points, so he got on the phone to try and set up the transaction. Up came the white guy holding out one of the model shoes from the display rack. The sales associate rested the phone on his shoulder and proceeded to fetch the box for the impatient man. Apparently satisfied, the white guy sauntered back over to the front of the store to try on the shoes.

Oh my goodness THANK YOU LORD.

I thought for a minute he was going to try and talk to me. Please don’t talk to me, sir.

But just as I had turned to face the sales associate and put this annoying situation behind me, the white dude spoke:

“So those are the ones you’re going with?” he asked gruffly. I turned, and he motioned to the new pair of shoes I was wearing out of the store.

I offered him a short answer, and then turned to the counter. The sales associate told Sasi something about my points not being accepted, and then asked if I wanted to try again. I figured he got something wrong because he was distracted by this impatient white dude, so I declined. Even if that was not the case, I was just ready to go.

The sales associate began to calculate my total when the white dude walked up to the counter and faced me.

“So what do you think about all these hearings?”

Son of a bitch.

I gave short answers once again, trying my best not to even be partisan on the matter. He said something about MSNBC, so I figured there was a chance he wasn’t a member of a radical faction. Still, I wanted to leave. I don’t care what you think. You’re rude. You’re pushy. You’re not gonna get your way with me. You’re not gonna force me into shooting the shit with you because you’re lonely.

But the trap had been set.

His Thai wife started chatting up Sasi like they were old roommates. Every time I turned to see if we could get out of there, Sasi would tell me something else about the couple.

Hey, these guys are from Chonburi! Chonburi, cool. Yeah, I used to work in that city.

So then I turned to face the white dude again.

“Yeah it’s all going down hill.” Word, man. It is. Holy effing shit it completely is. And I totally did not expect you to say those exact words, either.

I turned to see where Sasi was in her interaction.

She works close to where I work. Wow. Small world, yo. Can we leave?

I turned to the white dude again.

“I’m originally from Canada. Just living off my retirement.” He hinted as being a roadie for bands. He tried to repeat it in different ways when it didn’t get the reaction he was looking for. But I wasn’t biting. I don’t give a crap what bands you carried speakers for. My shoes have been purchased. You’re a penis. Keep your stories.

I turned to Sasi, and my exact greatest fear was realized.

I nearly burst a blood vessel in one of my eyes when saw it. Sasi was smiling at me so sweetly, too. I gasped in horror, however, as I watched the gals pull out their phones. I saw Sasi firing up the trusty Line Application, where she would be adding yet another person to her list of people she will never see again.

I turned back to the guy, who was talking with a female sales associate who had just come in. Perfect. He’s distracted. Now let’s get out.

But the guy’s wife wanted to talk to me about writing a book. Alright, Sasi, that’s two strikes for you. I had to stumble through conversation with the Thai wife. It was annoying.

Can we go now?

Nope. We had to do the one thing that destroys a clean break: we exchanged names.

The dude had a weird name, too. It matched his blandness and the dumbness of his face. I think it was something like Clertch. Clert? Gortch? It was something weird like that.

AND THEN… we did the OTHER thing I didn’t want to do: We made an empty promise to visit if we are ever in town.

Yeah, lady. I want to drink your husband’s shitty beer and listen to his stories while he shows me autographed shit I will never, ever care about. He probably has a hunting bow collection or something equally masculine and stupid. I also want to see your dumb little Pomeranians who yap every time one of us makes a sudden movement. We have so much in common.

But then, the transmission was finally broken. I don’t know how the break was finally made, but I made it little secret that I was more than ready to go. I dashed out of the store, my frustration now forgotten in the face of this second chance at life.

As we rounded the corner and certainly out of earshot of the couple, I finally just blurted it out:

“Holy shit those people sucked!”

Sasi just laughed about it, but I was pissed for a few minutes afterwards. Those guys made us do the whole friggin’ dance, too. The trap was so well executed.

Which was a little weird, by the way, because the man tried to come off as an Alpha to a store clerk who was way too young to be even remotely receptive to this behavior. After he tried more than once to talk with me, it was clear the dude really did want to have a chat. He looked socially needy. It was kinda sad.

But I just don’t care. There is no rule that says we have to chat you up. We’re not going to find common ground. You know what it takes just to get to this damn mall. You know we must have other shit to do.

Anyways, I’ll leave it at that. I could go into the reasons I don’t like expats and these kinds of couples, but just like earlier the point is moot. I just hate that we were so effectively flanked like that. It was some stone cold bullshit.

Mail and Message Boards

So here I go again on the Thailand blog.  I’m gonna try to keep everything going this time.  I didn’t exactly do very much today, so I am scrambling to justify my existence by scratching out a chapter in Confessions and then blogging so that I can say that I did some writing.  Of course, it is now midnight, which means I only actually did an hour of work.  Shame on me.

Anyways…

I am having a little bit of trouble with some vitamins that I ordered from eBay.  Sasi and I are trying our best to take hold of the reins and get ourselves healthy, so I went a little click happy and ordered a bunch of herbs and vitamins for us.  So far, everything has come in except for one thing, four bottles of GNC’s Women’s Ultra Mega.  Sasi received a phone call two days ago saying that the package was being randomly inspected, and then a day later she was called again and said that they cannot release the bottles because they had things that were not approved by the Thai FDA.

Now, some of you will probably roll your eyes at the following tirade, but I think some of you know that this whole thing is some stone cold bulljive.  I know that rules are rules, but this is not exactly a place where anybody follows any.  Ever.  Somebody somewhere wants a bribe.  I was an idiot and had it sent FedEx, so they saw the value of the package and decided that they had a chance to make some money on it.

And you know what?  If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  But don’t assume I’m just talking out of my arse.  I’ve personally witnessed shakedowns on visa runs by greedy ‘tour guides.’  It’s not uncommon.

I checked online, and people have had the same issue.  A few of them even said all it took was a bribe.  Well, having to just abandon $150 of vitamins without a fight isn’t exactly my style.  Sasi has a relative who might be able to negotiate their release, but regardless I am in another one of those situations where I guess I kinda learned my lesson the hard way.

But let’s talk about those message boards before I split, because these things always crack me up.  On the thread I was reading about getting vitamins shipped over, a very helpful expat posited that if the person asking the question had a better diet, he or she would not need any vitamins.

Remember how I said these things crack me up?  Well, I lied.  They piss me off severely.

I’ve tried to use message boards in the past, and there is always some dipshit out there who’s just there to tell people that they are Thailand-ing wrong.  People ask about anything, and there’s always one guy who tells you that you should know better.  Don’t do this.  You’ll offend them.  Figure out Thai custom, you brute.  Do it their way.  You’re a jerk for not doing it their way.  It always sounds like some bitter prick who is not even enjoying themselves out here who gives these shitty answers.

Anyways, it looks like I might be out $150.  Living in Thailand is frustrating as hell.  I love the privacy, I love the exchange rate, and I absolutely love who I married, but crap like this just pops up out of nowhere, and it always serves to remind me just how little of a say I have in my own life out here.

And for all those little smart-asses who like to use patronizing language on the message boards, I know it isn’t any different for you.  You haven’t cracked the code.  I don’t care if you speak the language.  You get jerked around just like I do from time to time, only I bet that you’re the kind of person who gets all indignant and acts like they owe you for being such a great guest.

So I guess I’m done bitching at imaginary people now.  I wrote today.  The box has been checked.  Hell, I might even post the chapter, because it looks a lot better than the original.

But for now it’s time for bed.  I have to head out for groceries tomorrow with our taxi dude.  It’s something you have to set aside half a day for, if that’s any indicator as to what the traffic is like out here.