Seventeen hours later we finally made it to our destination! No one is entirely sure what took so long. There was rain and considerable traffic heading out of Bangkok but nothing that should have nearly tripled our time. The bus was a nice one, with private video screens and plenty of leg room and cabin service just like an airplane, which was good since we were stuck on it for longer than I was on my flight to Tokyo. What we, in America, would answer with much cussing and threats of lawsuits, the Thais dismissed with one of their ubiquitous smiles, a figurative shrug of the shoulders and an utterance of “Mai pen rai”, essentially “it is what it is” or “que sera”. The culture here is much more laid back and forgiving than it is in the States. “Thai time” runs about 20 minutes (give or take an hour) later than the stated time, schedules are often lax suggestions. But the national mood is continually unruffled. Anger is rarely shown. So when we were met at the bus station by one of our co-teachers, a freakishly tall Dutchman, the matter was basically laughed off with a “Welcome to Thailand!”
The rest of the evening was spent taking a trip to Tesco (the European version of a Costco/Walmart baby only better) for sheets, pillows and other supplies and settling into the place I will call home for the next 5 ½ months. There are 3 other girls who teach at Paramin School who are living in the same building as us 2 newbies and they were more than happy to take us shopping and out to dinner on the backs of their motorbikes, the common mode of transport in these parts, and help get our feet back under us that weekend.
It’s been another rough week of adjustments and settling in. More to come!