Stay on your side of the Road

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After arriving at the bus station in Korat we decided to take a taxi to my grandma’s house. There is a huge hotel about 3/4 of a mile from my grandmother’s house. So I try to explain to the driver in “Thaiglish” if he gets me to the hotel I can show him from there. He was a nice man who charged me 80 baht when the Tuk Tuk driver quoted me 180 baht. He got me to my grandmothers after I missed the first turn and made one wrong turn. I was so thankful that he received a rather large tip.

We opened my grandmother’s (yaija) gate thinking no one was home. We walked around back to jump the fence and go rent a bungalow behind her house, only to find her in the back of her property with a machete chopping down a bush. Mind you my Yaija is almost 90! She sees us and drags us into the house. Where she unlocks my mom’s cinder block bedroom. That she starts to clean for us. There is a picture of my mom and dad hanging up in the room from when they first got married. My Yaija thinks we are staying with her. It was so hard to tell her that for $15 a night it’s easier on us soft “fallong’s” to sleep in an AC bungalow with a flushing toilet and hot water. But after my fifth mosquito bite in 10 minutes and the threat of dengue fever it became easier. My grandmother had the fortune of thirty years ago buying a piece of dried up rice field with my mom and I on what was the country part of her town. Over the past 30 years this area was bought up by a wealthy man who owns a recycling facility down the road. He now owns most of this area and has built a huge Condo building behind my Yaija’s little duck farm. Along with a row of cute bungalows that sit over a small pond. We are staying in a bungalow on the other side of my grandmother’s fence.

After checking in and discovering they don’t know the wifi password (and don’t seem to care), my phone is out of minutes, and I am now stuck at my Yaija’s house with zero means of transportation, I start to panic! My mom calls me back on my phone and I explain my situation. She calls her sister who shows up to take Sierra and I on a scooter to 7/11 so I can buy more minutes. I’m starting to have an anxiety attack about missing my appointment the next day due to a lack of transportation. The whole reason I’m in Thailand to begin with. So I call from my aunts phone a car rental company who has been doing business with Americans in this town for 14 years and can speak English. He knows the restaurant 1/2 mile down the road and agrees to pick me up in 10 minutes. It takes a while to explain to my aunt what I’m doing. She finally takes us on her scooter up the street and the car guy is there waiting. She insists on coming along. To make sure he wasn’t kidnapping us. We rent a Honda CRV for $40 a day with a large deposit I’m praying I actually get back.

Now I am driving in a country where there are virtually no traffic laws, millions of scooters, and driving on the opposite side of the car! There is a zero learning curve. Every time I think I’m turning the turn signal I’m flipping on the window wipers. This is insane! But my need for control over my situation outweighs the logic of this decision. I make it to 7/11 in one piece and purchase more minutes. I call my dad to make sure they went through. He thinks I’m crazy to try to drive in this country. I figure if he can do it why can’t I! We then proceed back to my grandmother’s house, safely and incident free!

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