It’s definitely been awhile since we’ve posted in our blog–blame the busy second term!–and we have much to say. Currently, we are in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in anticipation of our annual conference and taking a bit of a vacay. So far, we have enjoyed Mexican and Thai food (not at the same meals), Starbucks (Seattle, represent!), the warm weather, and a decent amount of walking and picture-taking. In spite of his reticence to leave the preferred frigidity of Mongolia, Eric is enjoying himself. 🙂
For awhile now, we have felt fairly confident in our abilities to travel and live overseas. After all, Ulaanbaatar is home now, and we can get around and communicate in limited Mongolian just fine there. We no longer feel like we are at risk of insulting people at every other moment and, generally speaking, feel like we are acceptable outsiders and not outright idiot foreigners. Yesterday, we felt like idiot foreigners again (or idiot farang, as we are in Thailand).
Last night, I had a doctor’s appointment about two and a half kilometers away from our hotel. We decided to save money and walk there instead of paying for a taxi/tuk-tuk/sung-tow. Google Maps predicted it would only take us a 30 minute walk to get to the clinic, but we gave ourselves an hour and a half just to be safe. (Hey, we weren’t total idiots.) You know how Google Maps gives you walking routes but oftentimes you think you can come up with a better route? Yeah…
So we walked alongside a busy arterial–not quite a freeway–until a wall blocked any sort of safe passage. At that point, we were unsure about what we should do, but then we noticed a walking path through some foliage about thirty feet to our right, saw a Thai man walking towards us on said path, and decided to press on. *shakes head* I wish now that I had taken pictures of our “path” because we ended up walking through tall grass and had to keep ducking under low-hanging electrical lines. The whole time, all I could think of was, “We are in the tropics. The tropics have poisonous snakes. I’m in flip flops. I’m going to die.” (Growing up in Africa will do that to a person…)
We finally made it through our pseudo-jungle trek and realized that the GPS on Eric’s phone was no longer picking up our location. So from that point on, we had to proceed based mostly on Eric’s intuition and our interpretation of the street signs. We took a wrong turn at one point, discovered the error while standing next to a street-side cafe (this is important later) and had to double back.
Miraculously, we made it to the clinic right on time, only to find out that the doctor I was supposed to meet was unable to come in that evening and that the nurse had tried to reschedule our appointment. Because we had a contact in Thailand make the appointment for us, they did not have our contact information, so they had been unable to confirm with us. Footsore and somewhat delirious, we thanked the nurse for the updated information and walked out, shaking our heads.
Because it was then dusk, we definitely wanted to hoof it back to our hotel so that we weren’t out too long after dark. (We make pretty obvious tourist targets.) We ended up taking the road that we had turned down in error earlier to get us back to a main road and avoid trekking through the tall grasses again. Now, I don’t speak Thai, but I am fairly certain that the folks chilling at the street-side cafe were laughing at the lost farang when we passed them for the second time in about 20 minutes. 🙂