My Arrival In Thailand
“What brought you to Thailand? What makes you continue living here?” These two questions have been discussed a lot on here lately. I think it is a really cool topic so I will try to address both points. This story will address the first
point and give my take on my first night here. I’ll write another submission later on detailing the factors that make me decide to stay here. I’ve actually been in this country now for about 15 months.
My best friend had just come back home after a yearlong teaching stint in Japan. We met up and ordered several pitchers of beer. He told me of his adventures and I was very intrigued by what he had to say. I sheepishly said that I’d like to travel at some point. Then he asked completely out of the blue, “Actually I am going to go to Thailand in a couple of months. Want to come?” I contemplated this very briefly. My entire thought process was, “I am not doing anything special where I live. As long as this place has the internet I can do exactly what I am doing now for money. I’ll also regret it if I never get the chance to travel and now is as good of a chance as I can imagine. Worst case if I don’t like it I can always just fly home.” I agreed to go with him just like that – on a complete whim.
I knew *NOTHING* about Thailand, just roughly where it is on a map. I only bothered to learn about a few things before going – making sure they had internet, the expected price on a few things and learning about the idea of face. Up until this point I’d never even been outside of North America. But for whatever reason I was feeling adventurous so I sold or gave away almost all of my possessions and gave up my lease. I had it set in my mind that I was going to live out there for a year unless I really hated it. I really have no idea where this idea came from but that was the plan I had set in my mind.
I remember quite well that first night I landed in Phuket. The humidity hit me right away when I stepped out of the plane. I knew vaguely about the climate but didn’t really expect that. The air felt sticky and had a very exotic odor. Then I realized that it was the middle of the night yet it still felt very warm. This was the first moment I realized that I was embarking into a strange new world.
After navigating through immigration we found our bags and began our negotiations with the taxi drivers. We must have looked very green because none of the other arrivals were getting nearly as much attention as us. We had – no exaggeration – 10 Thai guys following us around. They seemed to be working as a team and not bidding each other down. “You want limo?” with the whole group smiling. We were quoted 800 baht to go to Rawai. This seemed reasonable to me and so we lugged out bags to the back of a nice looking car. Once we were loaded in the driver turns around and says, “One thousand five hundred baht”. Being a man of principle – fatigue of a 24 hour journey be damned – I immediately called him out on his shenanigans. He wasn’t being agreeable and we ended up having to unload our bags and found a new taxi for the more reasonable 800 baht.
The ride down was really memorable to me. The first thing I noticed were all of the motorbikes on the side of the road – and on the left side – with the taxi passing them very fast and very close. “That doesn’t seem all that safe,” was one of the more common thoughts I was having. This thought got compounded when the driver stopped only briefly at the first red light before whizzing through. All of the buildings seemed dirty and run down to me. And everything seemed very dark – the street lights didn’t seem to help this fact at all.
As we got closer to Rawai I noticed more and more exotic looking girls. They varied in age and appearance quite a bit. Some of them were sitting in front of 7 Eleven. Some were on motorbike. And some were sitting at bars with Christmas lights. The one thing they all had in common was that they would all smile at me immediately if we made eye contact. I had read about the food, the beaches and the low cost of living. But I’d somehow managed to miss any of the reading about the girls. I was intrigued.
Nice start, but pleeeeeeeeeeease…..get to the "action"!