Nee quit her job last week. That same day, they called her and told her she could have some time off, without pay, to get herself a car. With that, she decided to take their offer. She couldn't get to work without a car and taking her so far on a motorcycle was beyond my abilities. I prefer to have us both in one piece.
We spent Thursday and Friday looking at used cars, some at lots with others supplied to us by our friends in Sun Sai. Getting out there involved again another two songtauws and then something called a rote peung or bumblebee car. It turned out to be an old man with a crutch riding a motorcycle attached to a roofed steel-tubed side car with a bench for two to sit on. I had to help him jump start the bike as he couldn't due to his poor leg. Our friend said we should pay 10 baht per person except when he saw me the price went up to 15. We chugged through the countryside at the breakneck speed of 30 kph until we came to the house.
Our friends had called a local mechanic who knew of a couple of used cars he could show us. Both were older model Toyotas, in good shape though the prices were too high for us. I wanted to look under the hood of the last car so I pulled what I thought was the hood lever only to find it was an anti-theft lock and the mechanic hadn't brought the key. He never showed annoyance, though I knew he was. Thais rarely show anger.
We ended up both riding on the back of our friend's motorcycle, three of us rolling among the banana and mango trees. She had ridden since she was 17 and now is retired. She never wobbled or showed any difficulty I had suffered riding alone earlier in the week.
Next week is the Thai New Year celebration, Songkran, and Nee's employer is closed for the week, so we decided it was time to finally go back to Bangkok and retrieve some of our belongings. I also need to see immigration as my visa will run out before I might get hired and I need an extension. Going south is done by plane, bus, train or car. The plane was too expensive, and I had had a bad experience on a long bus ride here a few years ago; we have no car and thus we decided on taking the train. It was a slow lumbering ride through miles and miles and miles of rice fields and banana orchards, with towns so small that Mayberry would look like New York City by comparison. Nee overheard a conversation where she heard that the train was running 2 hours late. We had already been on for 12 hours so we bailed out at the old airport and took a cab ride to her niece's place.
The next day we had to go honor her deceased parents at an annual ceremony and then were whisked away to the neighborhood with many clothing vendors along the street. The neighborhood reminded me of Chiang Mai with all the tourists and junk for sale and we were able to find plenty of good clothes to pick up at great prices.
To thank Nee's family for all they have done for us since we started this journey, we took them all out to dinner. We wanted someplace next to the water and were taken to a restaurant that was built in piers over a man-made lake. There were piers without cover, more near shore with a Quonset hut type roof and then more rooms out of the weather completely. We began dinner with beer and some appetizers when I noticed lightning south of us. Suddenly, large drops of rain came falling that quickly turned into a wind-swept downpour. Everyone ran for the Quonset hut dining are to start their meal over. We began to drink beer again when the wind came up and blew the rain well inside the cover. We all retired to one of the rooms and finished our meal together as a big family. We also had much beer.
Today, I am back at our house in Bangkok, the one I mentioned before without air conditioning. We agreed to have it installed today and then Nee ran off with her brother while I stayed home to unpack. Strangely, going through all the boxes we so carefully packed and repacked last January looked foreign. I opened one box after another wondering why I would bring such things. I found sweaters and coats and wool socks and gloves which are all worthless here. I found out baking gear and cookbooks and now we have no oven. I found my tools though I have nothing to fix and endless other things I could have just as easily left in Washington and never seen again. One box I avoided at first, not wanting to break into it until finally I got my knife and cut the tape. Inside I found what I had missed most about moving. Not my bike, though it is also sitting in its box here in the living room. Not my books or tools or anything like that. I found my baby Taylor guitar. I pulled it out of the box, opened the case and held it for a time. I tuned it by ear as my tuner is in a box somewhere. And then I just started playing. I am not good at remembering songs so I usually cheat with a book, but I couldn't find them, either. So I played what I could remember, sang what I knew and lost myself in it.
I gave up so much to be here. This small box of wood with it taught six strings has brought me back home. I know I can make it if I have music.
Our neice, Nong, talked her girlfriend into selling us her 6 year old Honda Jazz. The car has a lot of miles on it but she obviously took great care of it so we decided to buy it.
Now I have a machine to carry my guitar.