You’ve just gotta be a trooper

I can’t recite all the names. Jill is the girl.

And by all accounts she was.  Jill started her day trudging up and down Wireless Road with me looking for the Embassy of Vietnam (I’m desperate for a visa right about now) only to find that it isn’t even labeled with a number, or a name (I had the address)  There was nothing here to mark the place, we’d walked past it twice already.  It was a lot of wasted steps and walking here is one of the most difficult things you can do, it dreadfully unpleasant and (not to mention suicidal)  It’s treacherous, not for the meek or infirmed.

After asking several people, we actually saw someone on the street that I knew (I’m not kidding, Bruce is in the picture here, he took us to the unmarked door a few meters from where we were), he had just been there at the Embassy to get his visa too.
Jill waited patiently as I stood on the queue.  You’d think her job was the best, but in actuality, mine was.  At least I had the luxury of talking to the interesting people in the line that were trying to get into Vietnam, Jill just sat there staring at some pretty boring stuff.  Turns out this was the easy part of the day.
From the Embassy, we walked to the hotel where “my” group of guys have lunch several times a week.  Walking in this city is not to be underestimated, it takes a tremendous amount of thought, vigilence, but mostly bravery…the sidewalks are designed by Darwin and they certainly keep the unfit off of them (but they are still crowded) not to mention it is HOT here.  I don’t exagerate the HOT part.  Only the fit survive here, everything is an effort.  It is so odd that that there is nothing pleasant about this, but it is alway exilerating at the same time.  I’m hoping that Jill will chime in here to give her perspective. 
I then deliver her to a hotel where we are are going to have lunch with nine men.  She is the only woman.  She handles it flawlessly as she is quick to pick up on OUR nervousness.  In true Jill fashion, she fits right in and no one even notices.  This was the easy part of the day, and honestly it is typically when afterwards I head back to the ranch for a little siesta, but her time is limited and we have things to see.
So we set out in search of the Jim Thompson House Museum.  It is hot (did I mention how sultry it is here?).  As we walk up and down street after street, unable to find the klong (an intercity canal), she finally realizes that I really don’t know how to read a map and removes her own from her oversized purse, orients us, and sets a direction.  I’m impressed.  Ray  could do this, I have never had the gift.
We finally make it to the klong.  Using this means of transportation is designed for those under 30 and speak Thai.  Since we could confess to either, I think perhaps we held up the entire system, but we finally came to a klong stop that said “Jim Thompson House”…our destination.
Well, by the time we got there, Jill was looking quite “radiant.”  You know, 10 years younger and having the hotflash of a lifetime with no help from hormone tabs. I was looking similar, but more like an @sshole for having drug us through all this trouble.  If tempers were going to flare, this would be the perfect moment…it was pregnant.
But we did it.  I don’t know about Jill, but it was a notch in my belt.  I liked the sense of accomplishment.  I think she was more interested in the cool shower once she got home.  Whatever, we accomplished a lot.
At dinner we had a lively discussion.  It is difficult to not judge this place using Western values, there are too many things that just don’t correalate to how we see them.  So many things that look so ridiculous to us are just the normal here.  I’m still trying to give it some time.  Ther are 14 million people living in Bangkok in VERY close quarters.  I believe that perhaps they have devised some ways to deal with this that I don’t really understand yet. 
I think Jill is looking to Friday when she flies back to LA.  But on the surface, she’s being a real trooper…sweat and all.

3 thoughts on “You’ve just gotta be a trooper

    • They are mostly retired and winter here in Bangkok. Seems it is much cheaper here than going to Florida, Arizona, or California. Most of them spend between 3 and 5 months per year here.

  1. I am soooo glad that we did everything we did this day – I was pretty pitiful by the time we got to the Thompson House. I’d like to think that I have reached a new bar in my sweat tolerance and stair climbing skills, though. 🙂

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