Small Thailand Dilemma

24 Dec

So I’m off to Thailand in a few minutes. I haven’t posted in a long while due to this trip and the Christmas Show at work taking up most of my time. Here’s a quick story about some difficulties I encountered when planning this trip to Thailand.

I called the bus company to secure a trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. There is no online booking, and I needed to leave late at night immediately after arriving in Bangkok. The night buses and trains are a good way to have a cheap place to sleep while simultaneously getting to your destination. So, I’m making this long distance phone call and am under the impression that the receptionist speaks pretty good English.  She tells me the reservation number and tells me to go to the 711 and purchase the ticket before 7 am the following morning. The receipt will act as my bus ticket. I kept saying, “I’m in Taiwan. I can buy the bus ticket at 711?” And, she said, “Yes… [directions repeated].” So, Carrie and I head down there.

The machine that does everything from print, to recharge your phone’s SIM card is in Chinese, so I ask the employee to help me. She looks confused, and I’m not surprised. I’m confused too. I can’t believe a machine at what I still consider a gas station, can buy a ticket for a bus ride in another country!

She fiddles around on there, but she finally puts up her arms in a gesture to say, sorry no can do. I then make another international call to Thailand. They keep passing the phone around when I say, “Can someone speak in Chinese?” I guess that expectation was ignorant of me, but Chinese is the most common language, and I am calling an Asian country… ? They don’t say “No, we don’t speak Chinese” because people in these parts are too nice. You don’t hear the word “No” a lot. If anything, you’ll just get a tiny “no” head shake. Anyway, I hand the phone to the 711 employee when I think they’ve assented to put a Chinese speaker on the phone. And she tries to talk in Chinese with no luck. She ends up talking in broken English on my phone to a Thai receptionist who only speaks broken English as well.

Sigh.

Finally someone tells me in English that I have to be in Thailand to purchase the ticket at the 711. Maybe the Thai receptionist just thought I was another dumb foreigner who was getting Taiwan and Thailand confused?

So, what did I do? How am I going to get form Bangkok to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand? Well, a way more expensive plane trip of course. It’s about $75 U.S dollars, and it’s the high tourist season there. And, it saves me about eight hours.

Hopefully I don’t follow up this post with one titled, “Large Thailand Dilemma”. And, Jonathan (Carrie’s brother), I’ll try not to get kidnapped.

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